Jan 12, 2011

Seafood Watch on your Apple device—for free!

Do you know about Seafood Watch? Begun in the late 1990s by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, it’s a program designed to increase consumer awareness about sustainable seafood. Seafood Watch is probably best known for its free wallet-sized “pocket guides," which help consumers make wise seafood selections at the market or in a restaurant. Since 1999 more than 35 million pocket guides have been distributed.

The guides divide seafood into three categories based on the research of Monterey Bay Aquarium Scientists. Fish stock health and, when appropriate, fish farming practices are among the most important criteria used for the categories, which are: Green (Best Choices), Yellow (Good Alternatives), and (Red) Avoid.

I discovered these guides early on; I don’t remember exactly when or where. But I do recall studying that first guide with surprise—it offered the first clue I ever had that seafood is not a limitless resource.

The people at Seafood Watch have done a boffo job of keeping up with technology. When the Internet became viable, it wasn’t long before you could download copies of the guide, print them, and scissor along dotted lines for that neat wallet fit. At some point the guides diversified, going from one general guide to today’s eight versions: six regional guides (West Coast, Southwest, Hawaii, Central US, Southeast, Northeast) along with a National Guide and a Sushi Guide.

And since 2009 owners of iPhones and the iPod Touch have been able to download a free app Seafood Watch guide, so that an updated list can always be at hand. More than half a million have been downloaded thus far to iOs devices.

The Guides have just been updated with recent changes. For example, Atlantic haddock, pollock, summer flounder and some cod stocks have shown enough signs of recovery to be added to the list of Good Alternatives on the Northeast Guide.
    The Culinary Gadabout Recommends

    Fish Forever: The Definitive Guide to Understanding, Selecting, and Preparing Healthy, Delicious and Environmentally Sustainable Seafood—Chosen "Cookbook of the Year" by the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Author Paul Johnson supplies seafood to celebrated chefs such as Alice Waters, Thomas Keller, and Michael Mina, and in Fish Forever he shares his peerless seafood expertise. Written for people who love seafood but worry about the overfishing of certain species as well as mercury and other contaminants, Fish Forever pinpoints today's least-endangered, least-contaminated, best-tasting fish and shellfish species. Johnson provides in-depth guidance on 70 different fish along with 96 recipes that highlight the outstanding culinary qualities of each. A portion of his royalties go to Save Our Wild Salmon, an organization that works to restore wild salmon runs. Complete with over 60 beautiful color photographs, how-to tips, and fascinating sidebars. Hardcover, 480 pages; $22. Buy Fish Forever: The Definitive Guide to Understanding, Selecting, and Preparing Healthy, Delicious, and Environmentally Sustainable Seafood


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