Ethical fish eating

We’re having a discussion down below (in the first posting on Hurricane Earl, I believe) on the problem of eating endangered fish. Island Surveyor mentioned sardines as an alternative and in fact I do eat the little darlings, but only because my parents did (and my Ma still does) so I acquired a taste for them as a young lad. I suspect Ma and I are a dying breed.

As canned fish go, Ventresca Tuna is the best, and most expensive (canned) tuna you’ll ever eat. Absolutely fabulous, carved from the belly of bonito tuna which, I believe (I’m going to check) and are doing okay  [UPDATE: this site says a bonito is a type of mackerel and are not endangered]. But some brands come from yellowfin, which are threatened. The worst off are bluefin tuna, and I don’t eat those.

It’s all a tough ethical decision for this fish lover. Farmed fish, especially from China, are filled with pesticides, I hear, and fish farms around the world seem to be big, ugly polluters – and farmed fish aren’t all that tasty. While I don’t want to contribute to the demise of wild fish by supporting commercial fishermen, I hate to put those people out of business. So, it’s a puzzle. What’s a carnivore to do?


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10 responses to “Ethical fish eating

  1. FlyAngler

    Chris – Much to my wife’s and kids’ disgust, I eat sardines, sometimes right out of the tin. My grandparents emigrated to the States from Greece where they ate many of the little silver beauties. Like you, I developed a taste for them while young and still flexible in what I would eat. I even recall eating sardine sandwiches on fishing party boats out of Sheepshead Bay back in the 1970s.

    Sadly, my wife is not a fish eater and my kids have taken a page from her book. Even the smell of an empty tin makes them “gag”.


    • Fly, I don’t believe any of my own kids have ever eaten, or will ever eat, a canned sardine. Which is bad news for the folks in northern Maine, where there used to be a sardine fishery. The ungrateful bastids don’t know what they’re missing!
      And yeah – my dad made us sardine sandwiches which were nothing but sardines between two slices of Pepperridge Farm white bread. I loved them, but I don’t think my siblings did – Anthony? Gideon? Lori? John?

  2. EOS

    I can remember my early days living on the Vineyard, poor as a church mouse, a treat was a sardine sandwich, just like you said CF, on two pieces of white bread (only tree huggers ate whole wheat anything in the 1970s). I also put anchovies on my pizza. But what I love even more are smoked oysters. Right out of the tin with a good hunk of crusty bread to mop up all the oil. ‘Dem is good eats.

    Don’t go knocking pesticides. It’s the lack thereof that brought back bed bugs with a vengeance. Who among us in the over 60 age group didn’t grow up with everything sprayed with DDT? We’re still alive, aren’t we? Cough, cough.

  3. Cobra

    I, too, ate sardines from the can when I was a boy. Anchovies, too. Hadn’t consumed sardines for a couple of decades until last week when I scarfed down a tasty sardine appetizer at a local, poncy-ass restaurant.

  4. Brit

    Sardine sandwiches with lemon juice on them….. perfect.

  5. ldm

    Dr David Williams is a big fan of sardines for health reasons.

    And a 104 year old heiress, Huguette Clark, who has been in the news recently apparently loved sardines.
    Perhaps that’s why she has lived so long. (Can’t find the link, but this is from a comment made by one of her former employee’s daughter in one of the articles about her

  6. FlyAngler

    Traditional white Wonder Bread for me! Made it easy to squish down the sides to make sure none of the little silvery delights slipped out. Brit, the lemon juice squirt was a nice touch. Being from a Greek household, my grandmother would drizzle the olive oil in the tin over the sardines before closing the sandwich.

    I put anchovies in a different class as they are integral to true Ceasar salads and pizza, and are much more widely accepted. The Greeks used a larger version (packed in salt in large tins) as an appetizer with vinegar and olive oil drizzled on top. Very fishy and delectable but, sadly, I only get them about once a year when my Mom hosts a large family dinner.

    As much as it may disgust the family, I believe a sardine and avacado sandwich is on this weekend’s menu for me.

  7. Leatrice fountain

    May I urge you to consider a new discovery (for me)
    King Oscar finest bristling sardines . . Mediterranean style. Wow. bits of dark olives and lots of delicate oil. a meal in itself.
    Riverside radical

  8. cotswood

    Eat human – there’s plenty to go around.

  9. FlyAngler

    LDM – Sardines are naturally high in the Omegas that we all need to thrive. While cod’s liver is a good source, it can only be consumed as supplements. Sardines are just as good and can be consumed easily. Anyone interested in the role of the Omegas in our diets should read Nina Planck’s “Real Food”.

    Chris, back to ethical fish consumption, I try to avoid food fish where the by-catch is destructive or where there is much poaching activity. I have not eaten swordfish in over a decade and stopped eating “Chilean seabass” due to the poaching. This kills me since I love Valbella’s seabass specialty.