keeping the fishies in the sea: sustainable eating

The last book I read to Miss L each night right now is “Bedtime Kiss for Little Fish.” It’s a very simple board book that we read through, and it usually ends reading time with a smile because it features her favorite animal, the octopus. She loves obviously inherited the love of sea life from me (and her Dad), as she loves aquariums both big and small.

Bedtime Kiss for Little Fish<br /> Fussy Octopus</p> <p>Client: Scholastic

[image: Debra Ziss, 2008]

Now, I don’t talk a lot about what food philosophies we practice, because, well… we don’t really live by any tried and true rules when it comes to food other than eating food that is good. But there’s one rule that I try really hard to implement, especially because it’s so tough when I indulge in my favorite food (aka. sushi): only eat sustainable fish.

This food rule is pretty simple and easy to understand. We want biodiversity in our oceans. We don’t want to overfish any populations. And we don’t want consumer demand to outweigh environmental choices when it’s so simple to just stop buying fish on the “AVOID” lists. And the thought of ruining our oceans anymore makes me sad enough to skip the indulgence in the fatty goodness that is toro. Oh wait, the price of toro helps with that too… but nevertheless…

I know I’ve pointed it out before, but the Monterey Bay Aquarium provides regional seafood pocket guides for the entire country, along with a universal sushi guide, that you can download and print out… or you can download the app to your iphone/Android device (I cheat and use when I’m shopping/eating).


I’m so not perfect at this in any way shape or form at this, just someone who is trying to be more conscious and aware, but a recent report from Greenpeace shared how supermarkets rank in sustainable fish practices. I was happy to see that our neighborhood market (Nugget) got a high ranking, and super happy to see that another local market has the best rating in California/USA (Sacramento Natural Foods Co-Op). And would you have thought that Target and Safeway beat out Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s? Sometimes the big supermarkets aren’t the evil minions of the world!


OK, so where was this all going? Basically I just wanted you to know that this is a really easy food rule to practice and implement if you want to do it. Eliminate the “AVOID” fishies from your diet and mind (just pretend they don’t exist!!! I do it with watermelon and honeydew all the time due to my allergies!) and help spread the word to friends/markets/chefs/fishmongers to forget about them too! Don’t buy them, don’t order them at a restaurant, and see if you can help them disappear from the menu and the seafood counters in your area!

I want Miss L to have an ocean that’s better than ours…


  • Laura

    Love this! One of the first food rules we adopted. In fact, since our wedding was on Cannery Row, our favor was a donation to the Aquarium, and we gave out the fish cards to everyone. (we even got east coast cards for the east coast family)

    Love that the co-op is #1! Its possible to still get sustainable fish at TJs, you just have to know what to look for. They almost always have wild caught salmon in the frozen section.

  • Janet

    I totally love this – you know it! Next time you’re in SF, there’s a really great sustainable sushi place called Tataki. It’s fabulous, and guilt-free!

    Trader Joe’s is the worst – there was that whole Twitter campaign against them, I believe. It really bothers me when people (like my Dad) say “I feel comfortable buying this because it’s from TJs.” No! Talk about greenwashing!

  • Ali @ His Birdie's Nest

    Great post, Kim! and thank you for the link to the pocket guides. J & I have been trying to eat our seafood responsibly for a while now and it’s great to see other people that feel the same way :)

  • Julia

    Fun story: I volunteered at the Georgia Aquarium throughout grad school…you know, just as something to do. I took a class called “Seafood Savvy” where we basically learned about that little pamphlet from Monterey Bay, and how to educate guests in sustainable seafood. To this day, I still lecture my dad when we go out to eat and he orders grouper! Thanks for sharing :)

  • Michelle

    Hi Kim! I think it really awesome that you are working towards more holistic and sustainable eating for you and your family. My one word of caution is that a lot of that data isn’t entirely accurate and many of the rating systems are wildly inconsistent. That said, every little bit is a step in the right direction for fisheries sustainability and the long term health of our oceans and fish populations. xo

  • Katie

    Thanks for the useful info! I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that almost all of the fish we eat are in the clear, so to say. I do eat grouper every once in a while though…sigh…thankfully my cousin has a boat and he fishes them himself every so often, so I am going to assume that means it’s ok? Maybe? Haha!