Returning to the UK after months in Asia, we’ve found ourselves in a science fiction story. Kindles (both of us had to ask our Mums to explain these to us), iphone 4 (with 5 on the way) and intelligent technologies that follow you around your home (did nobody else see the 1992 film, Homewrecker? No? Never mind).
Having spent months in India, where hot water and electricity were a luxury, it’s all been a little overwhelming. The western world feels like an alien place right now.
Let’s talk food (after all, this is a food blog). Our first trips to the supermarket took our breath away. We both walked around our respective local stores with our mouths slightly open, attracting nervous glances from the other customers. And it wasn’t just the prices (friends weren’t kidding when they said things had increased in the last year or so!). It was the variety that hit us most. Butternut squash and parsnips in June? Mangetout flown in from Thailand? As they say in India, ‘everything is possible!’.
And the fish. There was so much variety! Coming from a village in the Himalayas, where the only kind of fish was the sort in a tin, this was a welcome sight for Nadine. But it did get us both asking questions. Wasn’t there a problem with cod still? And swordfish, that was in danger too wasn’t it? Perhaps this modern world we’d returned too had fixed the problems, we thought…
As a girl with a little too much time on her hands, Nadine decided to investigate. Clare pointed the direction to Hugh’s Fish Fight and the mind blowing discovery that half the fish caught in the North Sea are thrown back, dead. Mum Sharkey added food for thought (sorry), with a passing comment about nuclear fish in the oceans around Japan. It crossed our minds that perhaps we’d returned to a different kind of Sci-Fi movie altogether.
But it didn’t end there. It turns out that there’s food dye in our farmed salmon. That the EU is in trouble with Greenpeace and local African fishermen for ‘stealing’ their fish, destroying their ecosystems and damaging their livelihoods. That it takes more quantities of mackerel to feed farmed fish than the farms produce in return. And that turtles and rays are under threat from tuna fishing methods.
Quite frankly, it’s a little frightening.
But at least it’s not being ignored. Everyone from Prince Charles to Elle McPherson have got involved with the Project Ocean campaign at Selfridges on London’s Oxford Street, while Stephen Fry and Richard Branston are firm supporters of Hugh’s Fish Fight. There are petitions to sign all over the place. And change is happening! Tesco and Princes have changed their tuna for a start.
All of which was a bit of a relief to find out. So, leaving the big gestures and political change to those with a bit more influence, we decided to set about finding out what little things we can do to make a difference.
Firstly, you could sign some petitions. These are a good place to start:
Secondly, if you have a little spare cash, make a donation:
Thirdly and, in our minds most importantly, change the fish you eat. Start simply:
Cut out cod, munch on mackerel, limit yourself to line caught tuna, and make sure it’s MSC certified if possible.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be running a series of posts on sustainable fish and fish farming to help you make your own decisions about what to eat and what to avoid. We’ll also throw in some of our favourite fish recipes.
Start now by buying MSC certified salmon and making Tamari & Sesame Wild Salmon with Purple Sprouting Broccoli.