Green Sushi

This sushi is good enough to eat.
Photo credit: Andrea Kissack.
If you are a sushi lover, they can make your mouth water just thinking about them, bite sized pieces of Hamachi (yellow tail tuna), Ebi (shrimp), red snapper and Toro (Bluefin tuna) over vinegar sweetened rice. Can’t you just taste the raw fish delicacies right now? But, not so fast, these popular sushi items may not be the best thing you could do for yourself or the sea. They are either over-fished, farmed with aquaculture methods that pollute the ocean, are caught using methods that destroy ocean habitats or they are likely to contain contaminants, such as PCBs and Mercury, that can harm human health.

There is a new trend in town. Sustainable sushi. The Monterey Bay Aquarium, and two other ocean conservation groups (Blue Ocean Institute and Environmental Defense Fund), have come out with new advice for making better sushi choices. Modeled after the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s popular Seafood Watch Pocket Guide, the new sustainable sushi guide helps consumers make informed choices by categorizing seafood into three areas: Green (or best choice), Yellow (or good alternative) and Red (what to avoid). Just what kind of sushi you should avoid may surprise you. Until now, Unagi (bbq eel with avocado), seemed pretty harmless and a good choice for reluctant sushi eaters. Well, Unagi is farmed, freshwater juvenile eel so that definitely gets a red light from the Seafood Watch folks. You can try a sustainable alternative to Unagi at Tataki Sushi Bar in San Francisco. It may be the only restaurant of it’s kind in the country. The owners of the all sustainable sushi restaurant say they don’t want to become a niche as much as they want to influence the rest of the industry to change its’ practices. And with sushi a growing multibillion dollar industry, consumer preferences can have a big impact.

So how do you green your sushi? Try Pacific Halibut, farmed scallop or North American Albacore. Monterey Bay Aquarium biologists consider these among the “best” seafood because they come from abundant, well-managed fisheries or are raised using sustainable aquaculture methods.