Eating Fish

Ok, now its the fishmongers turn-

I am a fishmonger.  I didn’t know I wanted to become a fishmonger until about 2 years ago.  I don’t come from a fishmongering (?) line of relatives, I didn’t grow up near the ocean and, hell, I can’t even catch a fish with a pole to save my life.  Having grown up in a land- locked region, my family hardly ate fish (clam chowder, fish sticks, and lobster on fancy occasions was the extent of it).  Three years ago, however, I was persuaded to dedicate my passion and work to fish.  I was extremely fascinated to learn about something that I just didn’t know about.  The most vast wild source in the world was out there and all I had to say for it was “bumble bee tuna.”  The results, one of the most rewarding and bottomless topics of knowledge and diversity I’ve ever encountered.

Let’s face it- we as Americans are not fish eaters.  It isn’t a necessity, it perhaps never was.  Eating fish is a privilege-  a luxury some might chime in.  High quality fish in America is usually more expensive than land proteins and usually harder to seek.  A lot of us associate good fish with fancy restaurants like high end sushi bars or ‘suit and tie’ dining environments.  Also, the attention the media has placed on land animals and meat products, I feel, has hidden seafood.  A lot of people have fear (I know I do) of buying fish or seafood on their own.  Countless times I have asked grocery stores, companies and other suppliers of the source of a particular seafood and was told that the information was unknown.  Is the (commercial) fishing industry that secretive and ‘fishy’ that they can’t reveil what really goes on?  Yes, probably.  When buying seafood one must be concerned about how long a fish has been out of the water, whether or not (and how long) it has been previously frozen, whether or not coloring or preservatives have been added to increase shelf life and just the principle of those who are trying to sell the product to you to not knowing the source of the product.  As important as it is for us to support and buy responsibly from the land, equally we must learn and make the right decisions from the seas.  Too much of the low priced seafood offerings from restaurants, grocery stores and other shops take short cuts and buy from distributors that buy from other companies that buy large lots of fish that were caught under environmental destructive practices.  Methods such as commercial trawling and spotter planes using technology to locate and capture a huge mass of fish are depleting our last vast source of wild food and creating a global food scarce as the human population rises.

As a fishmonger I spend alot of my time researching and going out of my way to find out where each fish that I sell (and support) comes from, how it’s caught and how long it takes to get to me and how fresh it is when I sell it.  I won’t sell fish that is more than 7 days out of the water.  This makes it extra challanging to me as a fishmonger to buy and select product, utilize or eat myself without generating loss or waste.

I like to suport local as well.  By buying more local or regional, especially in the case of seafood, you are cutting out the middle guy and are more able develop solid relationships and trust with those who sell to you.  In the United States (other countries as well)  state, federal and even regional fishery boards are made up of a team of scientists, environmentalists, fishermen and anayists that regulate and control safe, sustainable, and fair fishing laws.  Technology advancements methods such as tagging and radar are showing us where there are alot of a specific species and also where species lack to control and protect areas where the regenaration rate is lower.

Over the next posts from me, the fishmonger, I will lend to responsible vs. unresponsible fishing methods, sources for sustainable seafood and information, and just notes on people and places that are doing the right thing.  As Bubba from Forest Gump put it, “Thats about it..” (for now..)

-Austin

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