I’m crazy about the fish tacos at El Pescador in Highland Park. But I haven’t been back there in months because I’m afraid to ask the question: where was this fish caught? The last thing I ever wanted was to be one of those people they make fun of in Portlandia! I’m guessing that the fish they use is either tilapia or cod. While market tilapia is sustainably farmed, cod is questionable. If it’s farmed, it’s all good. If it’s wild-caught, that’s a whole can of worms. Where was this fish caught? Was it caught by a bottom trawl? Longline? All I can expect to get at a mom and pop taco shop is a quizzical look on the server’s face. So for now, I guess I just won’t eat it.
Overfishing is totally real. It’s estimated that only about 4% of the average population of prized bluefin tuna still exist in the ocean.
I know, some people go the other way and just decide to eat it all, and I’m not mad at that. But we don’t have to totally throw our hands up over the issue. Luckily, the Monterey Bay Aquarium (one of my fave places) has a super handy resource: Seafood Watch. You can go to their website or download the app on your smartphone and browse and search all types of seafood to find out which ones are sustainable and which to avoid. Yes, I totally geeked out on this and looked at every single one, from abalone to wreckfish. And yes, it’s still confusing as to which ones you can buy at the market or order at restaurants unless there is someone there who really knows all the facts about the fish they carry. But this is a learning process and I’ll help. I’ll do a series of articles that will demystify the issues of farm-raised and wild-caught fish, which both have their pros and cons. I’ll help you figure out what the heck gillnetting and suspended culture are. So, stay tuned!