Tuesday, February 12, 2013

O Cod, what's a person to do?

Three strands have come together here, causing my need to say something, though I am not sure just what.

Late last month I read an article in the NY Times about even more restrictions on cod fishing in the Gulf of Maine and on Georges Bank.  The inexpensive fish of my youth (in Massachusetts) is on the verge of extinction.   Even the fishers who resist the new lower catch limits admit that they aren't coming close to catching the current limits. You can read that whole story here.

Then a couple of days ago I saw a still ad on the corner of a web page for Carl's Jr Atlantic cod sandwich.   I don't eat at Carl's Jr. - well, I don't eat fast food, but even if I did the political history of this outlet's owner would keep me away.   But I wasn't surprised that they were promoting something from a threatened fishery.
I should have stopped there, but today I pursued more information, and turned up the ad campaign for this item - the basic simulated sex approach which this purveyor of fast food is famous for.  You can Google it yourself if you want you to see a model 5 lbs away from emaciation except for her breasts having sex with a sandwich.   I'm sure I am the only person who has looked at the sandwich, but the grilled cod is golden yellow - and frankly, all the cod I've ever cooked was white.  Hmmm.  Who even knows if this is cod?  And if it's Atlantic cod, why was the photo shoot done in Hawaii?  I suppose aging New England fisherman don't sell food to teenagers.
Another interesting twist - the print ad copy promotes the sandwich as a low calorie (the fish is grilled) treat for Lent.   Okay - why not kick off Lent with sex and fast food?

This morning NPR featured a story on the Marine Stewardship Council - and the unreliability of their ratings of seafood as from sustainable fisheries.  
I do wonder about this from time to time.  So I went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch and looked up Atlantic cod.  It turns out that most of the Atlantic cod sold in the U.S. actually comes from the waters off Iceland and the Arctic Ocean off northern Norway and Russia.   Line caught cod from there is given the green "best choice" rating.  
But how do you know where the fish is from when you buy your sexy sandwich at Carl's Jr.?  Is the minimum wage clerk there going to tell you?  Does even a supervisor or somebody a few more rings up the corporate ladder know?   And how does a fast food joint, where price is everything, afford sustainably harvested fish when I rarely do?

And then, to top it all off, Seafood Watch cites the MSC as its authority.


Lori K said...

Very good point. The no-brainer solution: Don't trust a fast-food chain to serve you healthful food. Fish takes 15 minutes, tops, to fix at home. Buy it from a market you trust, fix it at home. Put it between two toasted hamburger buns smeared with tartar sauce if you want a fast-food experience. It may even take less time than going to Carl's Jr.

Anonymous said...

I have been in corrispondence with Carl Jr for two weeks just to ask how the fish are caught. Their customer support and product development havent a clue. It is a simple legitamite question and they cant answer. If they are that inept, I cant image them being any more helpful at adressing concerns over the commercial. anyone can try themselves, call... Heidy Glad, Manager of Carl jr Product Development 1-888-688-7537 ext#7582