When in Boston, she said, it makes sense,
To go for the specialty, hence,
I've come to get scrod.
Her friend said, that's odd!
Why use the past pluperfect tense?
-My Favorite Dirty Limerick, sometimes attributed to Isaac Asimov
For those of you who are higher minded than I (this would not be difficult), I apologize for the lowering of the tone of this blog. I'd say I'll never do it again, but we all know that's not true.
By now most of you may have read the study that says that the oceans will be entirely depleted of edible fish by 2048 at present rates of consumption. Now speaking as a girl from the Massachusetts coast, the granddaughter and step-sister of fishermen, and someone who thinks that there really is no such thing as too much sushi, fish is practically an article of faith. And within my lifetime, it may all be gone. I've cut way back on fish over the last few years, because mercury and PCB contamination are bad news for pregnant women and nursing mothers, but I do miss it.
Now this is terrifically sad for me, of course - my culture too is tied up in its food - but it is really terrifying for people whose indigenous diets revolve around fish. Most Island and Arctic peoples rely on fish for a large percentage of their diet. They're already struggling with rising seas, melting ice and mercury and PCB contamination of their staple food - and now they stand to lose fish altogether.
There are 1 billion people who rely on fish or fish predators as their primary source of animal protein, and another 3 billion people who eat it regularly. But the big problems come from industrialized nations - the US, Japan, Britain, where we increasingly want to eat a lot of fish and seafood imported from far away. Our own waters are depleted, so we go off to the waters of other people, and take their fish. And the oceans cannot endure it.
This is an even bigger problem because we are entering a period in which food supplies themselves are destabilizing. Recent research documents that we are already seeing significant declines in crop yields because of global warming, and that over the next few decades we may be producing up to 30% less per acre of most staple grain crops, including wheat, rice, soy and corn. Add that to increasing desertification, increasing soil and water depletion, the movement towards using food crops for fuel, a rising population (by 2030 at present rates of increase, China alone will consume 2/3 of the world's grain harvest), and risings costs and potentially decreasing availability of fossil fuels for agriculture, and over the next 4 decades, we may well see a world much shorter of food than we are now.
You all know what I'm going to say, of course - we simply cannot afford to lose fish too. Which means we in the industrialized world have to eat less fish - period. Even those of us on coasts, who can fit fish into our local diets need to cut *way* back. I must sound like a broken record here - first I tell you to give up flying, then so much meat, now fish. I imagine people are wondering "are we allowed any pleasures at all?
Well, I've decided I can eat sushi once a year. For the rest, time to switch my beloved fish and corn chowder down to just (or mostly) corn. And that's it for most of the scrod - at least of the fishy type - the other sort, well, that's low impact, sustainable, good exercise and a good distraction from lack of fish at dinner ;-). So yes, there's still at least one pleasure left ;-).