Sustainable Catch of the Day on Your Phone
The wireless gadgetry that I love to hate (I refer to Mister MA's BlackBerry as his "girlfriend.") has just earned its way back into my good graces. Remember when I was lamenting just a few weeks ago about what a pain it's become to be a seafood shopper? You practically need a degree in marine biology to decipher (and remember) the constantly changing health and eco advisories for all of your favorite fish, a daunting task when all you want to do is grill up some salmon steaks and call it a day.
But if you own a cell phone (I think most of us do) or a PDA "girlfriend," your seafood counter confusion may soon be a thing of the past. For basic cell phone users, getting the 411 on tonight's shrimp can be easy as sending a text message.
Last March, Friend of the Sea, a U.K.-based nonprofit focusing on certification and marketing of sustainable seafood, launched a text-message service offering environmental updates (i.e. is it overfished, how is fished?) on popular marine species.
Later this year, the seafood text buzz crossed to the other side of the Atlantic, where East Norwich, N.Y.-based Blue Ocean Institute launched Fish Phone. In addition to eco updates, Fish Phone text messages offer species-relevant health advisories on mercury, PCBs and dioxins.
Those of you with Web-enabled phones and PDAs have even more options. Blue Ocean has created a mobile version of its online seafood guide, as has Monterey Bay Aquarium and Environmental Defense, with its "Seafood Selector To-Go."
Unlike the others, Environmental Defense's mobile guide includes nutritional information plus recipes for its "eco-best" choices, a cool feature while you're in the supermarket.
But back to those fishy text messages. Here's how to get the 411:
For Friend of the Sea (FotS), type: fish (space) [species name] and send to mobile number 90430.
For Fish Phone, send your text message (exactly the same as with FotS) to mobile number 30644.
And here's what happened when I got my fingers walking:
The response from both services was immediate, flooding my inbox within seconds. So cool!
For shrimp, FotC types: "Conservation concerns as it is fished with Bottom trawlers with seabed impact. Best is fished with cages in North America East Coast."
Over at Fish Phone, the word is: "Imported (RED) significant environmental concerns; Gulf of Mex, (YELLOW) some env. Concerns; US and Canada northern, pink or farmed (GREEN) few env. Concerns." (The red, yellow and green references are traffic-light comparable.)
When it comes to salmon, F0tS says: "Alaska salmon is Good choice. Atlantic salmon overexploited. Organic farmed is good choice (www.framgord.com)." And according to Fish Phone, here's what you need to know: "Farmed (RED); Health Advisory: PCBs, dioxins and pesticides; wild US West Coast (YELLOW); Wild Alaska (GREEN), MSC Certified."
Swordfish is a mixed bag according to FotS: "Status varies. Harpoon, handline and longline-caught in US and Canada is good choice. Overexploited in Indian Ocean. Avoid longline caught." From Fish Phone: "Atlantic and Mediterranean caught (GREEN), Pacific caught (YELLOW). Health Advisory: High Mercury."
My advice? Text both services to get a more complete profile. You'll have the info in less time than it takes to open a can of tuna.
Curious and intrigued? Please go fishing and let me know what you think of any or all of these services. I'm eager to get your feedback.
By Kim ODonnel |
March 27, 2008; 7:55 AM ET
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