Mislabeled Seafood & the Consumer’s Illusion of Choice

It’s likely that most Californians have read reports about the decline of fish and other seafood populations. Still, as Americans, we’re so used to having an array of gustatory choices. How many of us go to our local sushi restaurant and order smoked salmon sushi rolls, or buy Red Sea bass at a seafood counter, and think — good, it hasn’t hit us yet? Well, think again. Steve Palumbi (of Stanford U., and Director of the Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove) and his colleagues have been doing DNA tests on restaurant seafood, and have found a lot of mislabeling — a situation that disempowers the consumer.

Such studies empower the consumer only by showing them just how much they’re being disempowered. “This story isn’t about information anymore,” says Jennifer Jacquet, an environmental studies professor at NYU. “It’s gone way past that, to something deeper.” What’s most insidious, she says, is how mislabeling undercuts even the most conscientious consumer, giving them the illusion of choice. Even seafood that is labeled sustainable at the store sometimes turns out not to be, as Marko showed in a paper from 2011, and Jacquet has argued that such sustainable sanctioning schemes are potentially unreliable. What’s the good of carrying a little card around in your wallet listing the most sustainable species if you have no idea what you’re actually buying?
Read the whole article in Slate, HERE.

See also:
* Local Catch Monterey Bay (a CSF)
* Seafood Watch Program (Monterey Bay Aquarium)
* Geisha Sustainable Sushi, Capitola, CA