Sustainability Made Simple

Sustainability is a simple matter of the combinations of small decisions we make every day. One of the choices that we have the opportunity to make regards the amount of seafood that we serve. Portion size can be the most effective tool we have to begin to create a more sustainable relationship with our ocean. A complete meal of delicious crispy broiled broccoli lightly spiced with chili flakes and buttery, nutty, aromatic jasmine rice pilaf can be such a compelling meal that – oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention the broiled salmon that was served with it.

In this country we tend to read menus from left to right placing the most importance on the protein, or the center of the plate as it’s called in restaurants. What if we read menus in the opposite way, giving much of the import to the accompanying vegetables?

When I shop for dinner for my wife and I, we usually decide what greens and grains to cook first and then go pick up 1/2 of a pound of whatever sustainable seafood is the best that day at market. Not only are we participating in better nutrition by eating more vegetables, our meals tend to be cheaper, and we are placing a minimum impact on our ocean by eating only what is enough. And we still get the great satisfaction of delicious meal of the seafood we crave. By savoring the seafood that we are lucky enough to eat, we actually participate in the delight of it to a greater extent.

Reducing our portions of seafood and increasing our consumption of vegetables is a step we can all easily take. We can start tonight and it requires no skill or advanced learning of sustainability issues. Actually, we should do it simply because it is better for our bodies and our wallets.

Sounds like an easy sell to me.

-Barton Seaver

Blue Ocean Institute Fellow

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2 Comments on “Sustainability Made Simple

  1. Changing consumers’ habits is anything but an “easy sell.” This naïve approach does not address the problem of overfishing commercial seafood species. Limiting access and catch, controlling waste and bycatch, and providing certain habitats off limit to commercial harvesting is a much wiser solution.

    The seafood INDUSTRY is no different than any other commercial enterprise in that they are out to maximize profits. Do you think that they will just sit idly by while their profits diminish?

    We need to strictly REGULATE fisheries to achieve the desired goal of sustainability and not leave it to the whim of consumers.

    Michael A. Vaughn

    • We know all that, Michael. And for 20 years we’ve worked the regulatory ends of these issues too. This post was about the relationship individual consumers have with their own dinner choices, ways to be aware and improve. That is a much bigger part of creating a climate that supports the right regulations than in might first appear, because for many people—especially for many people whose main interest is food, not the environment or ocean—awareness of the problem starts with what it means for them. —Carl Safina

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