The Marine Conservation Society tells us all about their new app…
When was the last time you bought eggs that weren’t free range?
I’m thinking university; you only had a couple of quid to your name and you were dying for a fried egg sarnie after a heavy night but, when you ate it, you felt so ashamed of yourself you threw it away and vowed never to buy non-free range again… No? Just me? Okay…
Anyway, whether or not this happened to you, the majority of us do know the importance of considering where our food comes from, before we buy or eat it.
a happy chicken makes a tastier egg
As an increasingly health-conscious society, we have learned to read our food labels, which can now tell us things like the name of the farmer that grew our spuds. We make a point of looking for the Red Tractor image, the Freedom Food tag, the Fair Trade icon, the Soil Association logo. We’ve realised a happy chicken makes a tastier egg and that non-GM veg really is just better for us, not to mention the planet.
But what happens when it comes to buying fish? Do you stop and think about whether or not the fish you’re eating is happy, organic, or indeed if it’s endangered?
For years we’ve been warned about the dangers of tuna-fishing on dolphins, so we know to look for the ‘dolphin-friendly’ statement on our tins; but what about all the other animals incidentally caught in these fisheries like sharks, turtles and seabirds, and the tuna itself? Is it actually okay to eat it and is there enough of it in the ocean to satisfy the developed world’s need for sushi and (ahem) tuna-and-cheese-melt- toasties?
Sadly, for so many of the fish we eat, the answer is no. There remain fisheries for many popular species like tuna, cod and wild bass that are overfished, to keep up with the colossal demand placed on these commodities. Many of our fish stocks, including but not limited to these, are under serious threat.
Put simply: we’ve caught and eaten too many of them for too long. Even where we’ve tried to remedy the situation by farming some fish, we’ve created different problems or added to existing ones.
For example, many farmed fish species like salmon, bass and prawns rely upon significant amounts of wild caught fish for their food. Farming these species actually takes more wild fish than what is produced by the farms, so the result is a net-loss of fish, therein contributing to the huge demand we place on our marine resources.
This isn’t about going veggie
This isn’t about going veggie, or boycotting the fishing industry. This is about making informed decisions, as consumers, on eating wild animals; wild animals that are becoming increasingly endangered.
After all, you wouldn’t eat Bengal tiger but perhaps you wouldn’t think twice about eating bluefin tuna or Atlantic halibut. These fish are often seen on restaurant menus but are just as threatened as animals like the giant panda or tiger. Unfortunately they aren’t as cute or sexy, so they don’t get represented. Moreover, they taste good and they’re not protected, so the cycle continues.
Available as an app or a handy wallet-sized paper guide (for the analogue amongst you), the information is divided into fish to eat (green) and fish to avoid (red). It tells you where is best for the fish to have been caught and when it is in season, as well as provides recipes for cooking them. Check out Emily Scott’s recipe for lemon sole, in season now, here.
MCS also advise you on the best types of farmed fish to buy. For instance, in the case of salmon, they suggest organically certified, Atlantic or Scottish farmed, as the best option.
What’s more, they have just launched their new sustainable seafood app with even more information, restaurant listings and recipes. So, what are you waiting for?! Download it from your app provider now and use it next time you’re out for dinner or buying groceries.
MCS is the UK’s leading charity working with supermarkets, restaurants, fishermen and Government to ensure sustainable seafood is the only option for consumers in the UK.