It’s Imitation Shark Fin But Still Not OK

By | October 10, 2011

We went to a birthday party yesterday and stopped for sushi on our way home. As much as I like novelty, for sushi I tend to stick to places I know and trust. Hungry kids can make one forget such rules though. A risky move. We’re on West Broadway and between pizza and sushi, the latter wins. In we go. The host asks “Do you want brown rice?”. Yes, we do. “That’s extra.” Healthy food choice vs. money. The taste leaves much to be desired but you never know until you try, right? Waiting for the boys to finish I peruse through the menu book. Farmed salmon on the menu is bad enough. But I almost fall off my chair as I read “Shark fin nigiri.” Oh, the horror. Shark fin? For those who feel like calling it a small issue, well, it’s not and here’s why.  Shark finning is cruel and all but the thing is, the fin belongs to a shark that’s no use to people here because shark meat is just not that tasty. Yes, some people in developing countries eat the whole shark and as long as that’s their source of protein I have no right to say anything against it. But here…A whole different matter. It’s wrong on all levels. And the real kicker is that life as we know it – human life included – really depends on sharks to stay put. You see, sharks are on top of the ocean food chain, as long as we stick to the shores that is. So when we don’t meddle with sharks, they maintain the health of our marine ecosystems and ultimately of our atmosphere by eating species that eat smaller species that feed on plankton. Because plankton absorb up to half of the carbon dioxide we produce by burning fossil fuel. So decimating sharks translates into hurting ourselves. And the future generations. Calling it selfish does barely address the issue. Irresponsible and immature would still not be enough.
“Are you really selling shark fin products?” I ask the hostess on our way out. She paused for a second. “It’s imitation shark fin.” Imitation gets people out of trouble I guess. But why bother? If it’s gelatin and/or starch, just try and make something yummy out of that and sell it as what it is. The imitation version of meat and shark fins is not going to improve anyone’s life. And that’s an entirely different issue but it all comes down to thinking that imitation means processed. The last thing we need. Come to think of it, that imitation shark fin adds to the spiky  issue of disappearing sharks – pun intended – and we got ourselves in a bind.
“Are we going to go there again, Mom?” No, of course not. Tony approves. Later in the evening over pumpkin pie and tea we chat about marine creatures and the wrongness of thinking we have the right to drive them into extinction. Yes, kids can have strong opinions about that and it’s good when they do. To paraphrase the Lorax, unless someone like our kids cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not…

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