The Japanese have a ferocious appetite for fish, with unagi being a common ingredient in Japanese cooking. Unfortunately for them, they have taken their love for fish too far and have fished and eaten their freshwater eel species to near extinction.
Here is an interesting statistic: The Japanese consume 70 percent of all the freshwater eels caught around the world. In fact, one in 10 of the global fish catch is eaten by them.
According to Esquire Magazine, over-consumption has resulted in a massive decline of the elongated fish, with their numbers dropping to a mere 10 to 30 percent of their original population in just three generations.
- If Fish is Brain Food, Can Fish Oil Pills Boost Brain Power?
- Healthy Pregnancy Diet Reduces Baby’s Chances of Heart Problems
The main reason why this is even an issue is because breeding freshwater eel in aquatic farms is virtually impossible. As atadromous fish, they spawn in the sea but live most of their adult lives in freshwater. Artificially mimicking both environments, as well as the complex eel’s migratory and mating process, has proven too difficult for scientists.
Japan’s freshwater eels can be found from Greenland all the way to South America. After reaching 25 years of age, they journey to the Sargasso Sea in the Northern Atlantic to lay eggs and die.
The three species of freshwater eel that aquaculture, and basically the whole of Japan, depends on for their insatiable appetite are all in steep decline and it could takes decades to get them back to healthy numbers. Many restaurants have already shut down because of the unavailability of unagi.
Preparation requires the eels to be alive. Not only are they difficult to handle, but they also contain a neurotoxin that only expert chefs can nullify. One wrong step and the customers risk being poisoned.
I have never tried unagi (have you?), but it must taste like heaven for the Japanese to eat it as much as they do. Other sea creatures they are eating into extinction are tuna and certain sea lions and seals.
Starbucks Now Donates Its Unsold Food
After years of deliberation and planning, Starbucks has finally announced that it will donate all unsold food to those in need, starting with its U.S. stores.
The Seattle-based coffee giant gave the green light after successfully working out a way to ensure the unsold food remains safe to eat.
Named FoodShare, Starbucks’ new program will donate unsold ready-to-eat meals from the company’s more than 7,600 outlets across the United States. It partnered up with Food Donation Connection and Feeding America to effectively distribute the meals.
Despite being one of the richest countries in the world, the U.S. has many hungry months, with Feeding America reporting that an alarming 14% (17.4 million) of the nation’s households facing food insecurity.
These 17.4 million households represent 32.8 million adults and 15.3 million children for a total of 48.1 million Americans who live in homes where regular meals are not guaranteed.
Starbucks estimates that Foodshare will be able to provide almost 5 million meals in its initial year and up to 50 million meals by 2021, so you can bet it could help out a significant number of struggling households.
The company had long wanted to donate its unsold food to charity; however, concerns over the perishability of the food items — many become spoiled by the time they reach the intended recipients — required a solution that took time to develop.
In an interview with Fortune magazine, Starbucks brand manager Jane Maly stated:
“We focused on maintaining the temperature, texture and flavor of the surplus food, so when it reached a person in need, they could safely enjoy it.”
Not only will FoodShare help feed hungry mouths, but it will also go a long way to address the issue of food waste.
Food that is left to rot and decay in landfills could release methane into the atmosphere, and that’s even more destructive than the greenhouse effect of CO2.
Around 70 billion pounds of food are wasted annually in the U.S. alone, a staggering figure by any measure. In Latin America, the amount of food wasted could feed 37 percent of the world’s hungry.
Will you be eating at Starbucks a lot more now that it donates its wasted food? Let us know in the comments below.
For Love of God China, Stop Eating All the Sharks!
The Chinese language must not have a word for ‘extinction’, because in China, people seem to have no qualms about eating every living thing into oblivion. If they were cannibals, the world wouldn’t be facing an overpopulation problem.
Images from Sanya, a fish market located in China’s Hainan Province, have angered netizens worldwide. Apparently, the Chinese have been selling Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks, an endangered species, in their hundreds for food.
According to China Daily, the sharks are being sold for $4.6 a kilo. It is believed that they were killed for their fins, which command a higher price than their meat.
Of course, shark fin is the main ingredient of the famous shark fin soup, the expensive Chinese delicacy you have probably heard of or had the pleasure of eating.
Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks are the most common species of Hammerhead Sharks. They live in-between warm temperate and tropical waters close to shores and can dive to depths up to 500 meters.
The sharks were placed on the “globally endangered” species list back in 2008 after researchers discovered a perceptible 95 percent decline in their population in just a short 30-year span, mainly attributed to the overfishing of the species for their fins.
The fact that there is even an outcry is thanks to the increasing importance social media has had in bringing important topics to global awareness. Popular Chinese social media platform WeChat is said to have been the first to circulate the controversial pictures.
China is in fact is a signatory to an international treaty restricting the sale of Scalloped Hammerheads; however, the recent discovery points to a lack of enforcement of any regulations the country’s government might have in instituted.
Chinese fishermen, who have long made a living from fishing these sharks, are largely unaware that the species are endangered. Authorities are investigating the incident.
Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks aside, other animals the Chinese are eating into extinction include tigers, bears, pangolins and many species of turtles.
While China is not the only culprit in the consumption of rare animals, it’s without a question the biggest. And its impact is being felt across the region. What can be done to discourage them?
Latin America Food Waste Can Feed 37% of World’s Hungry
Latin America and the Caribbean are two of the poorest regions in the world, yet a report by the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has found that they lose or waste up to 348,000 tons of food every day, enough to feed some 37 percent of the world’s hungry.
According to Bernama, the staggering figure is one of the reasons why it’s so difficult to achieve the FAO’s sustainable development objectives (SDO) in the two regions, which were established by in 2015. The goal is to reduce food waste by half by 2030, both at the retail and consumer level and in production and distribution chains.
The organization warns that unless the figure is reduced by 50 percent, there will be no progress made towards those objectives, and the region will continue to have a low standard of living.
Regional governments have established a network of experts, a regional strategy, and a regional alliance to prevent and reduce food losses and waste. Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic, in particular, have created National panels to deal with the issue, while Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Saint Vincent, Mexico, Uruguay, Peru, and The Grenadines have discussed similar initiatives.
A U.N. estimate committee has calculated that the sheer amount of food waste in Latin America could feed over 37 percent of the global population suffering from hunger, or roughly 300 million people. That’s around the number of people living in the United States!
Argentina alone wasted 16 million tonnes of food in 2015, representing 12.5 per cent of the national agro-food production.
The FAO acknowledges that Brazil, Costa Rica, Chile, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic have made significant advances to reduce food waste. Let’s hope the other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean follow suite.