The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 11 No. 22 - March 2, 2011


Healthy fish - eat American

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Support restaurants and markets that offer domestic
seafood products. Seventy percent of seafood consumed
in America comes from Southeast Asia, and 60
percent of the 1 percent that is checked is condemned.

Restaurant owners are used to getting a lot of advice about what foods they should serve.

I recently opened a restaurant next to a gym. One gym patron offered, "You should serve sports food."

As I age my mind has developed the habit of creating shortcuts to happier mental spaces.

When he said "sports food," he was thinking smoothies and blender drinks with brewer's yeast and protein powder and stuff.

When he said "sports food," I thought of baseball and hot dogs and beer.

He responded to my happy, faraway look with, "You know - food for runners."

"Food for runners" cast me back to my lost youth. "Food for runners" reminded me of fruit we stole and ran away with.

For me and my cousins the stolen fruit was usually Old Man MacGillicuddy's.

In our neighborhood, the greatest fear of retribution and punishment was inspired by the Catholic Church not the police or the courts.

The nuns punished us at school, the priests punished us at church, and sooner or later we had to show up at both.

You could at least run from the police. Temporal authorities like the police also were restrained by limitations on corporal punishment and the nuns and priests weren't.

Old Man MacGillicuddy was a Protestant. There was substantially less risk in stealing Protestant fruit because it was less likely to come to the attention of the nuns and priests.

We would climb MacGillicuddy's fruit trees at night and eat and pick and giggle until he came out to yell at us. Eventually, MacGillicuddy would call the police. Sergeant O'Flaherty would barrel into the yard and try to catch us before we cleared the fence. Once we over the fence, we were long gone and hard to find.

It would have taken an act of God to get O'Flaherty over any fence and God was unlikely to get involved where the issue was Protestant fruit.

O'Flaherty was on the police runner's diet of beer, potato chips and his wife's corned beef. The temporal authorities skewed the odds even more in our favor by weighing O'Flaherty down with a walkie-talkie and a flashlight and a gun.

O'Flaherty is now probably on a healthy food diet. Almost everyone is moving to a diet that involves more fruit, veggies fish.

The big problem in this equation is the fish – getting good quality fish is even more difficult than we think it is.

Seventy percent of the seafood that is consumed in America now comes from Southeast Asia. Only about 1 percent of that seafood product is checked by federal inspectors. A full 60 percent of the 1 percent that is checked is condemned.

Our food inspectors are no better at keeping out inferior seafood than O'Flaherty was at keeping my cousins out of MacGillicuddy's fruit.

I visited Vietnam and Thailand last spring. Everyone is peeing upstream and the level of industrial waste in rivers and coastal waters is alarming.

Finally, all of that waste product is finding its way into too much of the seafood that is being consumed here in the United States.

To get healthy seafood, we need to support restaurants and markets that offer domestic seafood products.

We need to support our own local fisherman. We need to develop and support our own aquaculture systems.

Eating healthier means eating American fish.

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper