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Sustainable foods: what do you avoid?

chowser Dec 28, 2008 07:52 AM

While I have avoided shark fin soup and chilean sea bass (though I was happy to hear that WF carries Monterey Bay approved csb), I thought this thread has been very informative:


I haven't had sea cucumber in years (easily over a decade) but didn't know it was near depletion. It's good to know and another thing to add to the list. I've been thinking there' s so much cumulative knowledge in the CH world, it would helpful to have a thread that has all the foods CHer avoid and why. So, what have you, as a socially conscious issue, stopped eating and why?

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  1. n
    nkeane RE: chowser Dec 28, 2008 08:55 AM

    Sturgeon and Blue Fin Tuna come to mind. The latter being fairly well known as an endangered species and suffering from extreme over fishing. Sturgeon on the other hand, doesnt get the attention that other fishes get. They have one of the longest reproductive cycles of any fish(sturgeon trivia: they are hermaphrodidic and they are one of like 5 species of fish that make multiple spawning migrations in their life). When a fish doesnt start reproducing until it reaches about age 20 and their eggs are so highly prized in certain communities(Russian) it sets them up for doom.
    I live in the PNW and there are pockets of immigrant Russians that have in recent years been caught running Caviar smuggling rings! They go catch Breeding size sturgeon(about 4 feet and larger. larger ones are the most prolific and ofcourse, highly prized.....they reach 12-14ft in the Columbia, weigh in excess of 1000lbs and can contain 75lbs of eggs!) gut them and throw the carcass back(a la Sharkfin poachers). Its disgusting, but our govts. handling of them is even more repugnant........they get a "fishing violation"! Which means they get their fishing license revoked!??

    Sorry for the rant, This is a subject that hits very close to home for me. If we allow the Columbia River Sturgeon population to be decimated, we will lose one of the most majestic living Dinosaurs we have left!

    4 Replies
    1. re: nkeane
      chowser RE: nkeane Dec 28, 2008 09:06 AM

      I'm actually looking for the rants. I think there's so much out there that people locally see that the rest of us don't.

      1. re: nkeane
        alanbarnes RE: nkeane Dec 28, 2008 10:08 AM

        Ditto on the sturgeon. There used to be enormous numbers of those leviathans swimming around the bays and rivers here in NorCal. They were so plentiful that during the Gold Rush, bars would serve caviar for free - like peanuts. Now the populations are just about gone. At least here, someone convicted of felony conspiracy to illegally take sturgeon is subject to a $15,000 fine and three years in prison.

        That said, there is some sturgeon aquaculture that's going on, and the fish farmers tend to be pretty heavily involved in conservation efforts. So if you have a chance to buy farmed sturgeon, you may actually be doing a good deed.

        1. re: alanbarnes
          Passadumkeg RE: alanbarnes Dec 28, 2008 03:21 PM

          Sturgeon is returning to the Penobscot River here in Maine.
          Wild Atlantic salmon and cod may never return in large numbers.

          1. re: alanbarnes
            lcool RE: alanbarnes Dec 29, 2008 04:41 AM

            The people farming sturgeon in the US and Italy are doing a good job.Have mostly achieved no-harm egg gathering,very rational/sustainable.
            Yet turn to the alligator gar,treated like a trash animal for ?? sport,because it is ugly.
            Where do we go next to educate?Shark fin and electrocuted chickens/best covered in the "social" thread soory

        2. Sam Fujisaka RE: chowser Dec 28, 2008 09:41 AM

          1. Shark fin, for the reasons given on the other thread.
          2. Bush meat in SE Asia (e.g., pangolin) and central Africa (that can inlude non-human primates)
          3. Nile perch sold in Europe: an exotic, the Nile perch has wiped out the herbivore fish; leading to uncontrolled algal growth and to eutrophication of the lake. The industry is controlled by a few; but has attracted many - leading to drug addiction, crime, AIDS, and general dispair around the region; and to suspected cases of the Russian cargo planes coming back from Europe with arms destined for other parts of Africa.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Sam Fujisaka
            fullbelly RE: Sam Fujisaka Dec 28, 2008 03:44 PM

            The movie about Nile perch is called Darwin's Nightmare: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwin&#...

          2. j
            jaykayen RE: chowser Dec 28, 2008 07:45 PM

            Monkfish. I see recipes in lots of books, and offered in restaurants and at Whole Foods.

            1. Passadumkeg RE: chowser Dec 29, 2008 03:12 AM

              A humble suggestion, get a fishing license. Every urban center, nearly has downtown fishing. When I visit my bro in Nev. I get up early and fish the Colorado R in the cool of morning. Mom lived 28 mi from NYC; great fishing. Austin? Lots of state parks near by w/ no need for license and loaner equipment. Blew my daughters mind when I brought home live trout in a bucket and poached some truite bleu. These are stocked species and the experience is mind healthy. Hunting I refer to as armed hiking and is a win-win experience. Spiritual too. Meat that hounds can't buy.
              I avoid supermarket chicken and meat it endangers moi.

              17 Replies
              1. re: Passadumkeg
                chowser RE: Passadumkeg Dec 29, 2008 03:24 AM

                Yeah, my going fishing's not going to happy. It is ideal, just as my BIL's hunting, but I don't have the patience. Sit still and be quiet? I drove everyone crazy by pulling in the line repeatedly to see how far I could it. They were happy when I left for a run.

                1. re: Passadumkeg
                  Sam Fujisaka RE: Passadumkeg Dec 29, 2008 04:00 AM

                  Do you know the regulations and where to fish around DC? Waters are close, but?? Have always wanted to go fishing there.

                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                    chowser RE: Sam Fujisaka Dec 29, 2008 08:37 AM

                    In Virginia, you need a license if you're over (I think) it's 16 but could be 12. Anyway, an adult. But there are quite a few places you can fish, though you need to be very patient, at least where we've gone. There are some stocked lakes. If you stay close to DC, most people I know fish for sport and not food because of quantity/type. There are some stocked lakes. The people I know who fish for food, tend to go out farther.

                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                      lcool RE: Sam Fujisaka Dec 29, 2008 08:50 AM

                      There are 3 juridictions involved.Each has two sets of rules.Instate/resident license and instate non-resident license.I'll get back to you with the information.If you
                      get curious before my response.look under fish & wildlife or dept of natural recources
                      DC may be reciprical even in this $$$$ grubbing day and age.

                    2. re: Passadumkeg
                      lcool RE: Passadumkeg Dec 29, 2008 04:47 AM

                      and the water features at golf courses.All about liking everything about where you are.Tee
                      off at first light,play the par ? 3's ,spend the rest of the AM fishing.It has become risky in the areas where alligators are back,but they belong here also.

                      1. re: Passadumkeg
                        alanbarnes RE: Passadumkeg Dec 29, 2008 08:26 AM

                        Good advice, even for those who don't have any interest in fishing or hunting. License fees are one of the most effective ways to channel money into wildlife management and habitat preservation. I seldom hunt ducks, but I buy a waterfowl stamp every year.

                        1. re: Passadumkeg
                          xanadude RE: Passadumkeg Dec 29, 2008 11:07 AM

                          Ehh, stocked fish come with their own set of problems... Sustainable hunting and fishing is good eats (and good times)--so long as 300 million Americans don't do start doing it.

                          1. re: xanadude
                            chowser RE: xanadude Dec 29, 2008 11:14 AM

                            Wild deer and out of control kudzu. We need to change the American diet to eating things that are way out of control. It's too bad we can't just forage for non-native invasive plants because there is much out there.

                            1. re: chowser
                              lcool RE: chowser Dec 29, 2008 11:28 AM

                              Local deer wild??Mine wink when they go past.Very unwelcome and very acclimated,dropping off a long list of parasites as they go.
                              Out of control kudzu is valuable livestock forage.The US seems unwilling to allow
                              for small scale grazing,highway goats or pigs.A fairly common sight where US abundance and ?waste is not the norm.

                              1. re: lcool
                                Passadumkeg RE: lcool Dec 29, 2008 02:42 PM

                                Our deer are suicidal! Five, yes 5, have killed themselves on the front bumper of my car. (Awfully expensive road kill stew.) And you wonder why I hunt poor Bambi?
                                Some dude in the south is processing kudzu into kudzuahol and running his vehicles with it.

                            2. re: xanadude
                              alanbarnes RE: xanadude Dec 29, 2008 12:00 PM

                              I don't like the fact that invasive species have been introduced to a number of our watersheds, but I do like eating them. Wild native trout = catch and release. Overpopulated introduced brookies = breakfast.

                              1. re: alanbarnes
                                Passadumkeg RE: alanbarnes Dec 29, 2008 02:43 PM

                                Trout w/ scrambled eggs, mmm......

                                1. re: alanbarnes
                                  Gio RE: alanbarnes Dec 29, 2008 04:20 PM

                                  Re: "catch and release:" Nothing like catching a one-eyed trout for the umpteenth time. Just sayin."

                                  1. re: Gio
                                    Passadumkeg RE: Gio Dec 29, 2008 06:22 PM

                                    I catch & eat. We have a couple of Atlantic salmon rivers w/ short catch and release seasons. Let the poor endangered fishies alone. Was it Marth and the Vandelas that sang "Too Many Fish in the Sea"?
                                    pssst I know it wasn't.
                                    Leader of the Mat

                                    1. re: Passadumkeg
                                      Gio RE: Passadumkeg Dec 30, 2008 05:13 AM

                                      You might be interested in the following article from the NYT, "How To Handle an Invasive Species? Eat It".....


                              2. re: Passadumkeg
                                Caralien RE: Passadumkeg Jan 4, 2009 02:54 PM

                                I doubt that the people I used to see daily under the Verrazano Bridge had fishing licenses.

                                1. re: Caralien
                                  Passadumkeg RE: Caralien Jan 4, 2009 03:13 PM

                                  At present, one does not need a fishing license if fishing in salt water. I fish & crab about 20 miles from the V Narrows Bridge, In Raritan Bay, when I return to visit my mom. The same place Ive been fishing for 50+ years. Now don't get caught fishing in Mc Carter Lake w/o a license, deary.

                              3. chowser RE: chowser Dec 29, 2008 03:28 AM

                                Responding to my own thread, I avoid the basics that most people seem to: veal, foie gras/pate, chilean sea bass, shark fin soup; buy off the Monterey sea watch unless it's from WF.


                                I buy humanely certified when I can, local small farms, or by the organic rating of dairy products (just stick to the same brand):


                                But, there are definitely places I could be better, eg, when product is limited, eg. mascarpone cheese, I get where there is. I should do without.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: chowser
                                  susancinsf RE: chowser Dec 29, 2008 07:50 AM

                                  Do you have some evidence that the seafood at WF is necessarily and always sustainable? you imply you would buy any seafood there, but I don't think that just because they sometimes have access to sustainable sources of otherwise non-sustainable species (ie the Chilean Sea Bass), that means that you can necessarily trust the source of *all* of their seafood. (?)

                                  I did a quick look at their website and see a reference to encouraging (which is not the same as guaranteeing, of course) sustainable agriculture in their core values, but if there was some specific reference to guaranteeing that the sources of seafood are always sustainable, I didn't see it.

                                  Sorry, but I am very skeptical about WF. Of course, the fact that the only two times I have tried to purchase something from the seafood counter there was an attempt to overcharge me, (listed sale prices displayed right in the case were not in the computer and in one case they didn 't even want to honor them until I got a little huffy as I pointed at the sign!), not to mention the absolute cluelessness of their check out staff (after waiting in the express line behind three shoppers with more than the requisite number of items I was told that 'well, we want everyone to be happy, so we don't enforce the express line signs'), may be a source of my bias. But basically, I don't trust them.

                                  1. re: susancinsf
                                    chowser RE: susancinsf Dec 29, 2008 08:16 AM

                                    This came up in a discussion on items used on Top Chef a while back. A few CHers who I trust on this were the ones who pointed it out so I looked and found what I could online and it seemed to support it. Could WF be lying? Sure, and maybe that local farm where I buy my eggs buys cheap factory farm eggs and puts them in their own containers. At some point, I'd rather trust people and maybe be taken in than to go through life suspicious of everyone. But, I think there are enough people who are skeptical of WF that if the claim weren't true, we'd hear about it. FWIW, I can't remember the last time I had anything off the warning list. But, if I had a craving for chilean sea bass, I'd go to WF. I've had problems with WF and don't wholeheartedly embrace them. I go there as a fallback.

                                    1. re: susancinsf
                                      lcool RE: susancinsf Dec 29, 2008 08:28 AM

                                      WF has had a great deal of poor press recently.All well earned.Sloppy management
                                      and procurement as applied to fish,garlic and dairy has made the news several times this year.
                                      My WF experiences here in DC are par with yours.I know a large circle of anti-testimonial people in this area.

                                      1. re: lcool
                                        amyzan RE: lcool Jan 3, 2009 05:04 PM

                                        This is disappointing. I worked for them from 1992-2000, and they were quite serious about their standards at that time. Of course, their standards were much more specific at that time, as well.

                                        1. re: amyzan
                                          lcool RE: amyzan Jan 4, 2009 07:38 AM

                                          Also before they hit the BIG TIME.As a huge corporation they are quite regularly guilty of a "disconnect",suppliers are often three or four layers away.
                                          So how reliable they are is ???.about organic and even point of origin.

                                  2. l
                                    lcool RE: chowser Dec 29, 2008 04:32 AM

                                    The long list of things sustainable includes a lot of poor practices.So at what cost do we arrive at sustainable,safe,cheap and ?? what else.
                                    A large group of mainstream articles,non-technical can be found at.........................
                                    politics of the plate..Greens Of Wrath by Barry Estabrook.I don't think the complete url will fit but I'll try
                                    DID NOT WORK sorry
                                    An argument can be made against much modern farm product.20,000 acre monocultures,factory farms disturb me greatly.We avoid much factory/unknown origin
                                    food product .Not 100%,but do our ?homework as much as we can.Our largest concerns
                                    to food issues are factory animals for meat,wasteful fishing and near slavery conditions in field and factory.
                                    The real sacrifice is the time we take for info gathering and added $$ for the standards found important to us.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: lcool
                                      Gio RE: lcool Dec 29, 2008 04:48 AM


                                      Going back to read it now. This is important stuff.....

                                      1. re: Gio
                                        chowser RE: Gio Dec 29, 2008 08:26 AM

                                        That's an interesting article. I worked in that field over 10 years ago, large precut bagged veggies. It's gotten so much bigger than it was but even then, the goal was to change the appearance of the produce department where everything was in bags, even fruit. Thankfully, it hasn't come to that.

                                        The question is, at this point, without those large farms, is it possible to feed everyone? I mean, it's great to say to eat local, small farms and it's what we do as chowhounds, just knowing it tastes better and most of us have the resources. But, is that a practical solution for people in big cities who rely on their local convenient stores for the little they get. It costs more, both in time and energy, for me to go to different stores/markets/farms. There was an article about local farms here and how the farmers are shaking their heads at people from the city who drive huge SUVs 2-3 hours out to their farm for a bucket of peaches.

                                        1. re: chowser
                                          Gio RE: chowser Dec 29, 2008 08:56 AM

                                          It *is* an interesting article and a cautionary tale we ought to think about. I never did like those bagged veggies.

                                          The statement about city folk driving huge gas guzzlers out to the farms is not exactly exaggerated but.... I tell you at the local farms where we shop I've never seen a Hummer. Though that doesn't mean they're not there at all, I guess. I've been on a mission to eat as many seasonal foods grown ethically and as close to where I live as possible. That means all the wonderful cold weather greens, and root vegetables. I've also been rethinking how I shop at the local supermarket and at Trader Joe's. Their goods come from all over the world. That's a dilemma for me cuz, I loved having "imported" delicacies.

                                          I don't know how to feed the masses, but it isn't by raping the invironment.

                                          1. re: Gio
                                            chowser RE: Gio Dec 29, 2008 09:02 AM

                                            Good for you. I do it in the spring/summer/fall months but winter is harder. I do what I can and make the best choices, given that I like fresh vegetables and fruits.

                                            I'm sure the story about the Hummer was, no exaggerated, but not common. But when I go apple picking, the majority of cars are SUVs. You don't see them at farmers markets as much. I don't think it's a desire to buy local, as much as a fun outing for the family to pick apples.

                                    2. l
                                      LabRat RE: chowser Dec 29, 2008 09:19 AM

                                      Orange roughy is a species of fish I avoid. They are very slow growing, don't reach sexual maturity until the age of 20-30 years and it takes a very long time for the soft coral "forests" that form their habitat to recover from the deep sea trawls used to catch the fish.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: LabRat
                                        chowser RE: LabRat Dec 29, 2008 11:16 AM

                                        It seemed like that was on every menu back in the 90's but I don't see it much any more.


                                      2. l
                                        lgss RE: chowser Dec 29, 2008 02:01 PM

                                        All animal products. My husband and I are long-time vegans (30+ and 15+ years). It makes a lot more sense to eat the grains than to cycle them through animals. I became vegetarian and then vegan for health reasons (shortly after my father had his first heart attack at 52) then all the other reasons made sense (animal rights, environmental, etc). It takes a lot less resources to grow food for a vegan than it does for an omnivore.

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