Bittman apostasy

One of the few unifying traits amongst Gut Feelings authors seems to be Bittman love, which is why his last piece, on the ethical trainwreck that is eating fish, hurts us. It's honest, open and deeply confusing. What do you do when a man who knows more about buying and eating fish than you - and has written a book to that end - admits that he no longer has any systematic way of telling what is good or bad?

As Mark Bittman puts it in yesterday's NY Times:

In fact, and sadly, the list of fish that I don’t eat is much longer than the list of fish that I do. One could argue, as I sometimes do (mostly to myself), that one shouldn’t eat fish at all, fearing that if fish lovers begin consuming those few remaining species that are not in trouble — sardines, mackerel, squid — we might just make quick work of them, too. But though that may be the easiest argument to phrase, it isn’t likely to be popular, nor will it help the cods and flounders.

It is like being witness to culinary apostasy. As much as I feel like my foodblogging mojo occasionally drifts away, I don't lose my underlying faith in food.

My approach to eating fish is simpler than Bittman's couple of rules. Only eat fish that you could forseeably walk to a beach or river nearby and catch yourself. This rules out anything pelagic - shark, bluefin tuna, orange roughy, patagonian toothfish. It also means that you're forced to learn what fish is actually local (even if it is shipped in from elsewhere) and tends to favour underutilised species.


    Nice philosophy with the local fish.
    Guess that means we should stick to freshwater bass, pike, carp, river trout etc.
    But life would be boring without a little bit of raw scallop every now and then..

    The column was funny, wasn't it, because he seemed to desperately want to advise readers to hold off fish completely for a while, but couldn't quite bring himself to.
    He linked on twitter to a marine researcher who recommended that people for whom fish is a luxury should stop eating it altogether. whereas poor people whose communities have always fished and eaten those local fish should keep at it.


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