Thinking of gathering up some friends after work for a good old-fashioned all-you-can-eat sushi gorge fest? Those spicy salmon and tuna rolls will be yours. Oh yes, they will be yours. But should they be?
Well, no. If you want to be able to keep enjoy sushi well into the future, you’ll need to start thinking about the food you eat a little more. The raw food trend, which has travelled all the way from Japan and settled into our seafood-loving hearts, has some pretty devastating side effects: namely, we’re overfishing to keep up with our insatiable habits.
We get it, you’re not thinking about the extinction of sea life when you’re downing a roll or 10, but maybe you should start? Even now, the world’s most famous sushi master, Jiro Ono, is letting the world know that the fish we eat today won’t be available to future generations if we keep up our habits. Sushi now or sushi later? The decision is yours.
The biggest problem is that we love the biggest fish–species like tuna and salmon, which we’re now fishing so quickly that they’re often not fully grown by the time they become entangled in nets. Many studies suggest that bluefin tuna has decreased in population by about 95 per cent, and we could see their extinction in our lifetime. The supply has become so big that we’re relying on farmed fish more than ever, and even that method isn’t able to keep up with demand.
Is all that for a few pieces of deep-fried rolls or mayo-smothered bites worth it?
Thankfully, there is good news: sushi lovers can still get their fix and peace of mind–all you’ll need are a few small tweaks and tips.
Skip the all-you-can-eat spots
We love gorging ourselves silly sometimes, too—especially with a group of friends. But we often forget that these places should be called all you can enjoy, not all you can eat. When it comes to these generous places, we often feel the need to get our money’s worth (read: eating everything until we cannot eat anymore). Not ready to give up your AYCE? Then maybe consider…
…Changing your AYCE eating habits
Just because there’s sushi on the menu, doesn’t mean you can’t mix it up. Often, a good sushi restaurant will have other kitchen items that are just as tasty, like noodle dishes or deep-fried tofu. Or, you can sample some alternative rolls, like those delicious, vegetarian-friendly sweet potato or avocado and cucumber rolls. And most places make a mean (cooked) chicken teriyaki roll, if you’re looking for a protein-packed treat.
Have a conversation with your local eatery
Understanding a restaurant’s buying practices is the first step to responsible eating, according to SeaChoice.org. Be sure to figure out what species you’re consuming, whether it’s seafood or farmed, where it’s actually from, and how it was caught or farmed. If the practices seem shady to you, you might want to consider finding a new restaurant.
Avoid certain fish completely
We know you love tuna, but try to avoid Toro or wild Bluefin, because these kinds of tuna really need some time to catch up. You should also avoid farmed or open-net fished salmon (Sake), along with farmed and wild Ebi.
Swap in alternatives
Avoiding the aforementioned fish doesn’t mean you have to skip varieties of those species entirely. Albacore tuna (Shiro Maguro) is fine, as is wild Alaskan salmon (also named Sake) and Amaebi (wild, BC-trapped prawn).
Follow this infographic
SeaChoice has created a sushi card that briefs you on the pieces you should avoid, the pieces that are kind-of okay to eat and those that are the best choice for feasting. It’s a handy, printable option that will easily fit in your purse. We highly recommend it for your next sushi splurge.