Dealing with sustainability in nonEnglish-speaking restaurants
I can readily check web sites or call to find out whether or not items--especially seafood--are sustainable or not at many places, but it's a problem at Chinese spots in particular.
This poses a pretty big problem, since sustainable seafood is a major concern of mine and Chinese food is our favorite, Alas, I speak no Chinese of any variety except for 2 or 3 words.
Has anyone found a way to deal with this issue?
How do you deal with sustainablity in other restaurants? Do you just ask them 'are your fish sustainable?'? or can you identify the various species by name, and possibly appearance?
If there is a large Asian grocery near you (e.g. 99Ranch in Calif), browse their fish counter. A lot of their fish is farmed (e.g. carp, catfish), others are rarities in high-class American restaurants (beltfish, milkfish).
99 Ranch lists country of origin for its fish, so you can do a little research on that country's general practices. It won't tell you about a particular batch, but will give you a general idea. Now if they had would list the binomial name so I knew just what a particular fish actually is - but that's a problem in general.
I always take the attitude that if I don't make it myself I can't worry about sustainability. I often eat vegetarian out for that reason, among others. Seriously, if you want my advice, limit the amount of meals out you have if you really care. What do you think they are going to tell you?
Most, if not all, authentic Chinese restaurants generally don't care about sustainability.
If sustainability is an issue for you, you can either stop eating Chinese, or make an exception for Chinese food when it comes to your sustainability mantra.
I regard sustainability and other ethical matters as pretty much a lost cause with most restaurants. There isnt the interest. Means I usually have to put to one side the committments I make when buying for home. But I will still be aware of the issues. Like knowing the major fish varieties which are under threat. Or always assuming that, say, veal is not raised humanely unless the menu states country of origin and I know that country raises veal humanely.