My latest dining experience reminded me of something that is quintessentially Canadian. Partners Derek Valleau and Harsh Chawla of Pukka fame, team up with Chef Masayuki to open Concession Road, their latest addition to the Toronto restaurant scene. The trio are a tossed salad of cultures brought together for the love of good food and a desire to share it with others.
When carbon dioxide (CO2) is emitted into the atmosphere it doesn't just stay there -- about 25 per cent of emissions are absorbed into the ocean, increasing the acidity of the ocean. An ocean increasing in acidity is not a very friendly place for its creatures, many of which play critical roles in marine food webs and are vital sources of human food. I recently travelled to Italy and across North America investigating how ocean acidification could impact marine life. While I like to remain hopeful in most things, what I learned has made me very worried about the future of the ocean.
I used to eat a lot of shrimp, but based on my travels examining foreign shrimp farms and various unsustainable and sustainable fishing practices, now I am much more selective. Supporting more sustainable options is a good start but with the vast majority of the global shrimp industry based on destructive harvesting methods, widespread change will take a long time.
An Internet search turns up an astounding number of pages about radiation from Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant meltdown that followed an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. But it's difficult to find credible information. With the lack of data from government, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is asking the public for help.
Due to continued contamination following the Fukushima disaster, social media is now abuzz with people swearing off fish from the Pacific Ocean. Given the lack of information around containment efforts, some may find this reasonable. But preliminary research shows fish caught off Canada's Pacific Coast are safe to eat.
The health of fish is undoubted. A great source of lean protein, omega fatty acids and low in fat. But the problem today is that our fish supply is contaminated with mercury and PCB's and the oceans are being overfished. The following fish have been put into three groups. Those to avoid, those that are good to consume and those that can be eaten on an infrequent basis.
The people who eat in the Waldorf Astoria's restaurants want to know how the food they are eating came to be on their plates. You should too; especially when it comes to seafood. Fish deteriorates more quickly than any other protein. Freshness and quality are critical. Here's what I suggest asking your fish monger about your seafood purchase.
One of the first lessons I learned from First Nations communities was about the importance of respect. Without respect for each other, we don't listen and we fail to learn. But respect should extend beyond our fellow humans, to all the green things that capture the sun's energy and power the rest of life on Earth.
As a professional angler I have the ability to identify the species of fish I'm served, something I put to use when the halibut I had ordered arrived and I could immediately tell it was a snapper. Alarmed by how often this happens, I decided I needed to tell someone and try to do something about this.