Environmental Defense Fund: New Sushi Selector – What’s Good, What’s Not

Now sushi lovers can make informed seafood choices that please the palate and safeguard the oceans. Environmental Defense Fund’s new Sushi Selector lists choices by Japanese and English names, and ranks them according to whether fish are caught or farmed in an environmentally responsible way and if their contaminant levels pose a health risk.

For sushi aficionados, that means both pleasant surprises — and some disappointments. Popular items like toro (bluefin tuna) and unagi (freshwater eel) are on the Eco-Worst list, as is most sake (made with farmed or Atlantic salmon). These species are either overfished, caught in ways that destroy ocean habitats or kill large amounts of other sea life, or they are farmed with methods that pollute the ocean or threaten nearby wild fish populations.

But such choices as sake made from wild-caught Alaska salmon, hotate (farmed scallops )  and hirame (Pacific halibut ) are Eco-Best choices, in part because they come from abundant, well-managed fisheries or — in the case of scallops — are raised using eco-friendly aquaculture methods.

One caveat: Sushi is rarely labeled with species names, where the fish came from, or whether it was caught or farmed. Ask your server, chef or sushi purveyor for this information.

  1. Robert

    Thanks for this useful information.
    I regularly indulge in Sushi.
    Next time, I will have to see what fish is being served and ask for the what, where and how.



  2. Jeff - ScienceSays.net

    Monterey Bay just published a sushi guide as well, it seems like there’s a concerted push right now to clean up this food industry.

    Just an fyi though – toro is actually a quality of meat, the omega-3 laden belly fat of coldwater fish. While the best and most famous type comes from bluefin, bigeye tuna and a couple of other species are used.

    That said, there’s no denying that bluefin tuna are in utter crisis anymore, and the Japanese demand for that high quality meat doesn’t seem to be waning (American sushi-goers rarely are aware of the importance of toro, so American restaurants can’t justify the price, and tend not to buy bluefin toro except at super-high end places like Nobu)

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