Famed fishmonger plans a sea change

By Lynda V. Mapes

Seattle Times staff reporter
The Seattle Times

It’s already the loudest and most entertaining fish market in Seattle. But can those fish-tossing mongers at Pike Place Fish Market, a beloved Seattle icon, become sustainable too?

Owner John Yokoyama says he is determined to try, as he yanks some species, hikes prices for others, and reviews everything at his market stand from lighting to packaging with an intent to adopt more sustainable practices.

Even figuring out just what sustainable means is a tall order. Unlike organic, or country-of-origin labeling, no government policy sets minimum standards for the marketing claim “sustainable.”

Seafood is a last frontier in the feel-good food fight, and it’s inherently complex. Involving hundreds of species, dozens of gear and harvest practices, and countries all over the globe, seafood is one of the most far-flung, complex, inscrutable foods to follow from source to plate.

But sustainable seafood’s the new thing, and everybody’s talking about it. Wal-Mart is promising to use only sustainable sources for its wild seafood — a small portion of its fish on offer. Target has announced it will no longer sell farmed salmon. Safeway, Publix and other mainstream supermarket chains also are examining their practices.

While definitions vary, the term “sustainable” is broadly understood to describe practices that will enable both the product sold, and the environment that produces it, to endure into the future.

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