WBEZ | seafood http://www.wbez.org/tags/seafood Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 'Shark Week' fuels shark-meat feeding frenzy at restaurants http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/shark-week-fuels-shark-meat-feeding-frenzy-restaurants-110632 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/mako-tacos_slide-f11f760df53a04ca706a264b9f1bfffb35b87775-s40-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Discovery Channel set <a href="http://www.deadline.com/2013/08/shark-week-snaps-up-ratings-records-for-discovery-channel/" target="_blank">viewership records</a> in 2013 as millions of people tuned in to watch sharks feed, sharks attack, extinct giant sharks and researchers catch and tag sharks. Discovery&#39;s &quot;<a href="http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/shark-week/tv-shows/tv-shows.htm" target="_blank">Shark Week</a>&quot; returned on Sunday, and this year, to the dismay of conservationists, restaurants and markets nationwide are feeding the frenzy with a slew of shark meat promotions.</p><p>Shortfin mako shark, a slow-growing fish whose numbers are declining, seems to be the species of choice. It&#39;s being featured on menus all over the country &mdash; at <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DocMagrogansOysterHouseUniversityCity" target="_blank">Doc Magrogan&#39;s Oyster House</a> in Philadelphia; <a href="http://www.sybergs.com/MENU/MAINMENU.aspx" target="_blank">Syberg&#39;s</a>, a small restaurant chain in St. Louis; <a href="http://www.sandbaraz.com/site/" target="_blank">Sandbar Mexican Grill</a>, with locations in Chandler, Ariz., and Phoenix; and <a href="http://gtoyster.com/pages/about.php" target="_blank">GT Fish and Oyster</a> in Chicago. In Louisiana, has a special on blacktip shark fillets at $4.99 a pound. Twitter is meanwhile over Shark Week specials, which often feature shark tacos and shark-themed cocktails.</p><p>Michael Clark, a sales rep with Fortune Fish And Gourmet, a seafood supplier outside Chicago, tells The Salt he has never seen such high interest in shark meat.</p><p>&quot;In 12 or 13 years, we have had virtually nobody looking for shark, but this year [for Shark Week] people are jumping all over it,&quot; says Clark, who is currently carrying Atlantic shortfin mako shark sourced from a supplier on the East Coast of Canada.</p><p>Shortfin makos are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature&#39;s &quot;<a href="http://www.iucnredlist.org/about/overview#introduction" target="_blank">red list</a>&quot; of species at risk of extinction. The Atlantic population is declining and &quot;<a href="http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/161749/0" target="_blank">vulnerable</a>,&quot; with numbers estimated to be as low as just 30 percent of the species&#39; historic levels.</p><p><a href="http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/161751/0" target="_blank">Pacific</a> shortfin makos are also slowly disappearing, according to the IUCN, though their population may be in better shape than their Atlantic cousins. The Monterey Bay Aquarium&#39;s <a href="http://mobile.seafoodwatch.org/fish/103/shark" target="_blank">Seafood Watch</a> program calls shortfin mako from California and Hawaii a &quot;good alternative&quot; to more vulnerable options, but generally recommends against consuming shark.</p><p>Conservationists working to protect sharks are disappointed in the shark-eating craze being fueled by Shark Week.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s opportunistic,&quot; says Sean Van Sommeran, founder of the <a href="http://www.pelagic.org/" target="_blank">Pelagic Shark Research Foundation</a> in Santa Cruz. &quot;[Restaurants] are using the celebrity of sharkism to sell more tacos than they normally would.&quot;</p><p>Angelo Villagomez, with the Pew Charitable Trusts&#39; Global Shark Conservation campaign, notes that the Atlantic shortfin mako&#39;s &quot;vulnerable&quot; IUCN rating is the same as that of the polar bear. &quot;But you wouldn&#39;t want to eat polar bear tacos,&quot; he says.</p><p>In fact, some restaurants have specifically chosen not to serve shark during Shark Week because of customer concerns. The Lancaster Taphouse in Saskatchewan, for example, planned to serve mako shark last August. But an outcry on social media caused managers to turn tail and yank the item off the menu, <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/morningedition/episode/2013/08/05/shark-not-on-the-menu/index.html?cmp=rss&amp;utm_source=twitterfeed&amp;utm_medium=twitter" target="_blank">according to</a> CBC News.</p><p>In spite of declining populations, the number of shortfin mako sharks landed by fishermen has actually been on the rise since 2006. That year, American commercial fishermen reported catching about 222,000 pounds of the fish, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. By 2012, that figure had grown to nearly 389,000 pounds.</p><p>Catches of most other shark species are at all-time lows, according to Villagomez. He says this is not because of decreasing demand but decreasing shark numbers. &quot;We&#39;ve hit &#39;peak shark,&#39; &quot; he jokes.</p><p>Fishermen worldwide kill between 70 and 100 million sharks every year. Most are killed for their fins, which are sliced off the animals and, eventually, dried and used to <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/pictureshow/2011/10/21/141587542/photos-show-sheer-scale-of-shark-fin-trade" target="_blank">make shark fin soup</a>. Often, the rest of the carcass is thrown overboard.</p><p>While Americans seem to hunger more for shark during Shark Week, China has a much larger year-round appetite.</p><p><a href="http://www.wildaid.org/about" target="_blank">WildAid</a>, a San Francisco group dedicated to marine protection, has been campaigning to curb the demand for shark fins in China. The efforts may be working. According to a WildAid <a href="http://wildaid.org/sites/default/files/SharkReport_spread_final_08.07.14.pdf" target="_blank">report</a> released Aug. 4, prices for shark fins are down about 50 percent in China, where fishermen are also receiving 80 percent less money for the product. And 85 percent of about 1,500 Chinese consumers surveyed online by WildAid said they&#39;d stopped eating shark fin soup in the past three years, largely out of sympathy for sharks.</p><p>WildAid&#39;s founder Peter Knights says he isn&#39;t particularly bothered that a few American restaurants are serving shark meat, given the overwhelming global demand for their fins. In fact, Knights is more concerned about Shark Week itself.</p><p>&quot;I think Shark Week does more damage to sharks than eating the occasional shark in a restaurant,&quot; Knights says. &quot;Shark Week is all about vilifying sharks. They always have about 20 shows about shark attacks and none about what&#39;s happening to shark populations.&quot;</p><p>He adds: &quot;It would be nice if people didn&#39;t start to desire shark meat as well [as their fins], but I guess if you&#39;re going to kill a shark, it&#39;s better to use 85 percent of it rather than one to five percent.&quot;</p><p>&mdash; <em><a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/08/11/339579328/shark-week-fuels-shark-meat-feeding-frenzy-at-restaurants">via NPR&#39;s The Salt blog</a></em></p></p> Mon, 11 Aug 2014 17:39:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/shark-week-fuels-shark-meat-feeding-frenzy-restaurants-110632 Chicago seafood shoppers duped by mislabeled fish http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/chicago-seafood-shoppers-duped-mislabeled-fish-105671 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F80271781&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Seafood fans in Chicago have a high chance of being cheated when they buy fish in restaurants and grocery stores. A <a href="http://oceana.org/sites/default/files/reports/National_Seafood_Fraud_Testing_Results_FINAL.pdf" target="_blank">new study</a> by Oceana, a national conservation group, found 32 percent of samples tested in Chicago were mislabeled as another fish entirely.</p><p>But Chicago fishmonger Dirk Fucik says the false fish sales are probably not entirely the fault of retailers or fishermen.</p><p>&ldquo;The fisherman who catches the actual fish is not really the one playing games, I don&rsquo;t think,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;If he catches a red snapper, he goes to shore and sells it as such. But then once it gets to a processor, or to a broker, somewhere in that range I think things get mismarked.&rdquo;</p><p>By the time a restaurant or grocery store gets the packaged and filleted fish, it&rsquo;s undergone a covert change of identity somewhere up the chain. Fucik gave the example of a Vietnamese catfish called basa or swai that&rsquo;s imported in large amounts into the U.S. every year.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;ve never seen that on a menu, I&rsquo;ll betcha,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;So that&rsquo;s getting used for something, somewhere. Mixed in with fish sandwiches or fish sticks, or whatever.&rdquo;</p><p>The study was neither random nor comprehensive. Volunteers sought out retailers that advertised fish species considered likely to be fakes based on previous cases or regional popularity, and the sample pools focused heavily on those types.</p><p>The two-year project analyzed the DNA of the purchased samples and found that a full 33 percent of the specimens were sold under a false name. Snapper was a scam in 87 percent of the samples, and 59 percent of tuna was actually another fish.&nbsp;</p><p>Fucik thinks high-end markets like his are less likely to fall into a counterfeit fish situation, because they tend to know more about their fish and it doesn&rsquo;t usually come tightly packaged.</p><p>&ldquo;I like to buy everything whole, because then you know exactly the species of fish you&rsquo;re buying,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>If anything is suspicious, he sends it back.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS7044_043-scr.JPG" style="height: 518px; width: 690px;" title="If something sold as a red snapper actually looks like this tilefish, Dirk Fucik says, be suspicious. (WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)" /></p><p>&ldquo;If you know what you&rsquo;re doing, hopefully you don&rsquo;t get duped,&rdquo; Fucik said.</p><p>Chicago was noted in the study for its &ldquo;unusual seafood substitutions.&rdquo; In one case, a fish sold as Alaskan cod turned out to be the charmingly-named threadfin slickhead, a fish not even known to be sold in the U.S. And while most red snapper scams substitute rockfish and tilapia, two Chicago grocery stores were peddling the far less common goldbanded jobfish and slender pinjalo as red snapper.<br /><br />Sushi venues had the highest incidence of mislabeling at a whopping 74 percent, although the total number of sushi sellers surveyed was far less than restaurants or retailers. But in the 118 sushi outlets tested, 92 percent of the fish sold as snapper and 71 percent of the so-called tuna were mislabeled specimens of other fish.</p><p>Mislabeling can mean feeling ripped off, but it can also be dangerous for those with allergies and mislead shoppers trying to pick out sustainably harvested or low-mercury fish products. Oceana, the study&rsquo;s publisher, says seafood should be traceable, and argues that current laws for seafood inspection should be more stringently enforced.</p><p>For now, the implications for the consumer are cloudy. Fucik says the best way for the fish purchaser to get to know their product is to ask questions - but if you ask whether your sashimi is actually make with snapper, you&rsquo;ll almost definitely get a yes.</p><p>And taste tests are mostly a dead end, too. Even he can have trouble telling one filet from another in many cases of substitution, and he&rsquo;s been in the business for forty years.</p><p>People who want to stay on top of their fish-shopping game can do themselves a favor by favoring fresh fish markets that sell whole fish. And if you&rsquo;re trying to go upscale with your purchases, check out average prices and ask questions if a fish product seems to be cheaper than what it should be.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS7043_036-scr.JPG" style="height: 518px; width: 690px;" title="Red snapper is red. (WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)" /></p><p>Finally, Fucik strongly recommended looking out for &ldquo;tuna&rdquo; that&rsquo;s white in color when it&rsquo;s raw; there&rsquo;s no such thing, he said, as actual &ldquo;white tuna&rdquo;.</p><p>The canned stuff has been cooked, but it used to be pink. If it&rsquo;s white and it&rsquo;s raw it could be escolar, also known as oilfish.</p><p>Escolar has a special effect on digestion that Fucik compares to the cleansing effects of <a href="http://ex-lax.com/" target="_blank">Ex-Lax</a>, and it&rsquo;s already banned in Japan and Italy for the gastrointestinal problems it can cause.</p><p>Next up in fish troubles: Frankenfish. (That&rsquo;s the derisive name for <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Health/genetically-modified-frankenfish-nears-fda-approval-debate-heats/story?id=18078157" target="_blank">genetically modified salmon</a> that&rsquo;s swimming closer to FDA approval as we speak.)</p><p>And in case you haven&rsquo;t had enough seafood malaise for the day, WBEZ&rsquo;s food blogger Louisa Chu will be with us soon to reflect on what her <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2012-08/waste-not-nose-tail-fin-101973" target="_blank">fishing trip in Alaska</a> taught her about the fish supply chain - and all the ways it can go wrong.</p><p>Follow <a href="https://twitter.com/LewisPants" target="_blank">Lewis Wallace on Twitter.</a></p></p> Thu, 21 Feb 2013 16:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/chicago-seafood-shoppers-duped-mislabeled-fish-105671 Podcast interview with the author of "Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food" http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/podcast-interview-author-four-fish-future-last-wild-food <p><p style="text-align: center;"><img height="597" width="400" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-October/2010-10-29/Four Fish Cover.jpg" title="" alt="" /></p><p>Paul Greenberg has spent much of his life around fish. &nbsp;A lifelong, avid fisherman himself, his latest book is, in some respects, going to do for seafood what Michael Pollan's &quot;Omnivore's Dilemma&quot; did for factory-raised cows and corn: it will illuminate and educate diners about what is really going on in our food supply system.</p><p>I met Greenberg for a drink at Old Town Social last week, shortly before he was to give a talk to diners at North Pond, where a sustainably-raised seafood dinner was on the agenda. Among other things, we talked about the state of fisheries in the Great Lakes - something he's been studying lately.</p></p> Wed, 03 Nov 2010 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/podcast-interview-author-four-fish-future-last-wild-food