Thursday, April 17, 2008

Earth Day

I'm a coastal girl. Born and raised in Rhode Island. I've also spent plenty of holidays with family along the coast of Maine. Fresh and wonderful seafood was a given and usually cheaper than placing meat on the dinner table. One of my favorite dishes was Grandmother Meme's seafood chowder – full of scallops, cod and haddock. Tradition had us thawing out over steaming bowls after long days playing in the snow. Warming, filling and delicious, that chowder was magical. When I moved to Boston and began my life as a poor student, my Grandmother graced me with the recipe. Not only was it cheap to make, it lasted. You could even freeze the stuff.

I don't make that chowder much anymore. Only on special occasions. The fact that I'm living in Kansas has nothing to do with it. There's just no cod or haddock to be had, at any price. And the thought of scooping some bay scallops for a quick ceviche is laughable. Fish stocks around the world are in serious decline. The magazine, Science, reported that unless we change how we fish and manage ocean ecosystems, eating seafood will become a memory. Cod is especially fragile with 90% of the population having been caught in 2003. Scientists figure we have about 40 years before my grandmother's chowder is a memory.

So what can you do? Believe it or not, you can do a lot by just doing a little. Thanks to the Monterrey Bay Aquarium, I've got a "Seafood Watch Pocket Guide." The aquarium made them for all regions of our country, and I think they're brilliant. They give you lists of "Best choices," "Alternatives," and what fish you should "Avoid" because of depletion. I've adapted my grandmother's recipe. No more cod and haddock. It's pollock and tilapia instead and it still tastes great. I figure this way, I'll be able to pass that recipe down to my granddaughter.

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