Last weekend, as I was walking into Whole Foods, I noticed a large white and blue sign hanging above the door, announcing the arrival of Marine Stewardship Council Halibut. Sounds good, I thought. After placing the carefully-wrapped package in my cart, I felt certain that dinner was going to be delicious, and I was pretty sure I had just done something good for our planet, but if you had asked me why it was good, I would have shrugged.
I decided to check out the Marine Stewardship Council website, and find out exactly why it's important to buy sustainably harvested fish. The organization started out under Unilever - producer of such ubiquitous brands as Dove, Bertolli, Hellman's, and Slim-Fast. Apparently, they are also the largest buyer of seafood in the world. I was happy to find out that the MSC is now independent, and is working to certify fisheries of all sizes around the world, in order to ensure the future health of our oceans, and the livelihoods of the people who fish for a living. MSC is the only internationally recognized set of environmental standards for measuring the sustainability of fisheries. Their standards were carefully developed over a over a two year period; they consulted scientists, fisherie experts, environmental organizations, and others who have a stake in the future of the industry (well, we all do, don't we?). With as much as 76% of the world's fish stocks being fully exploited (maximum biological capacity), it's clear that it's important to buy these products when they are available to us.
I suspected that products carrying the MSC logo would be hard to find, or prohibitively expensive for the average shopper, but a list of stores carrying MSC-labeled fish and fish products revealed a surprising number of sources. Whole Foods, Wild Oats, and Wegman's are all carrying these products, but also on the list are Walmart, and Safeway stores, among others. This is a great direction for these large corporations to take, because if sustainable products are readily available, and affordable, it seems to me like the average consumer would glady make the purchase. The challenge then lies in the hands of marketers and these organizations to educate the public.
Now, back to the halibut fillet sitting in my shopping cart. I had ripped out a recipe from this month's Bon Appetit , for Chipotle-Glazed Halibut, with Avocado-Tomatillo Sauce. I happen to adore tomatillos, and the recipe had very few ingredients, so it went to the front of my recipe basket. It was a cinch to put together - I made a quick glaze with chipotle chiles, honey, orange juice and spices, then made the Tomatillo Sauce in the blender using just tomatillos (I used canned), an avocado, and orange juice...and that was it! The recipe called for grilling the fish, but I just popped it in the oven at 400 degrees. I roasted some potatoes to go along with the fish, and garnished it with cilantro, and it plated up beautifully too, as you can see. Mostly importantly though, it was delicious. Extra points for sustainability as well.
The original recipe made 6 servings; I halved it with no problems. I also added some additional spices and some brown sugar to the glaze, because the honey that I had in the pantry was more savory than sweet. I used canned tomatillos because the store didn't have fresh, and I don't think it made much of a difference, but now I have to find a use for the rest of can...
The recipe is not yet posted on Epicurious , but they update it pretty regularly, so if you're not a subscriber, just check back in a few weeks.
The information about MSC in this entry was all gathered from their site, listed above.