Last week, the New York Times featured an editorial by Paul Greenberg highlighting the backwards math of importing & exporting that goes on behind the scenes to get seafood to your plates. Despite having some of the richest waters in the world right off our shores, 86% of the seafood we consume here in the United States is imported. Adding insult to injury, as much as 1/3 of the seafood caught by Americans is consumed by overseas by foreigners. How does that make any sense? Well, as this article points out, it doesn’t.
Historic anecdotes and current data on several key species including oysters, shrimp, salmon and Alaskan pollock provide key examples of the absurd patterns that have developed as seafood sourcing has grown increasingly globalized. Using statistics provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, this editorial does a fantastic job to paint a picture of the nonsensical patterns that have emerged after centuries of developments in the seafood importing and exporting business. After providing key illustrations using these important species that we are all familiar with and enjoy on a regular basis, Greenberg summarizes,
“Globalization, that unseen force that supposedly eliminates inefficiencies through the magic of trade, has radically disconnected us from our seafood supply.“
In sharp contrast from days of old, we as a population have grown increasingly disconnected from our national food sources. As the Earth’s population continues to explode, it will become increasingly difficult to provide enough nutrition to meet the basic needs of future generations. Unless consumers wake up and ask more questions about where their food comes from, how it is harvested, and what went into getting it onto their plate, these blurred lines will continue to obscure and confuse. Given the enormously rich and historically significant fishery right here in our backyards, New Englanders owe it to themselves and the local economy to track the roots of their seafood and support the local fishery whenever possible.
Also, make sure to check out the graphic included with the article, which does a fantastic job of summarizing current data and latest seafood import/export trends. You can access it by clicking here.