Thursday, February 18, 2010

Please Leave The Fish Alone!

I worry about a lot of things. It's true. I don't think I'm a born worrier because I'm a Taurus and most Tauruses don't worry. I think my worrying comes from Mom. She shows me stuff on the Internet that causes me to lose sleep at night and the thing I worry about the most is what we are doing to our planet.

I know people like to eat fish. Fish has been a staple in many cultures around the world for a long time. Fishing is how many people make their living. All of this wouldn't be a problem if there were enough fish for everyone which there isn't. People always talk about sustainable fisheries but is there really such a thing? Mom doesn't think so, at least not in today's world. If you step back and think about the word sustainability for a minute you'll see what Mom means. From an ecological perspective, sustainability means living today in a way so that you can meet your needs while preserving the natural world for the future. Are we doing this? Not with the six plus billion people that call Earth home pushing it's resources to the limit. There are a finite amount of resources for an infinite amount of people. This worries me.

Something else that worries me is Trader Joe's. Or should I say Traitor Joe's. They are deceiving the public with the fish they sell in their stores and this is not only morally wrong it's also bad for the environment.
Mom shops at Trader Joes for certain items. She likes their tofu, black bean burgers, and soup. She also likes their nuts and trail mixes, and will occasionally buy sweets there too. One thing she won't buy there is produce because so much of it is wrapped, really overwrapped, in plastic. Unnecessary plastic. Produce doesn't need need to be wrapped in plastic - duh! I'm not sure why Trader Joe's feels it's necessary but many people have issues with it. People also have issues with the seafood they sell, which is why Greenpeace created the mock website Traitor Joe.

The purpose of the Traitor Joe site is to raise awareness of the red list seafood Trader Joe's sells.
According to Greenpeace, Trader Joe's is the largest US grocer operating on a nation-wide scale that refuses to substantively respond to Greenpeace's inquiries regarding its sustainability policies and practices. Huh? What does that mean exactly?

If you are unfamiliar with the term red list it comes from Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program. The program helps consumers and businesses make wise choices about the fish they purchase to ensure healthy oceans for today and the future. You can practice sustainable seafood eating if you follow the guide. Red listed fish is a no-no, yellow is okay, and green is the best. You can download a copy of Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Pocket Guide here. This guide will help you choose ocean-friendly seafood wherever you live.

Back to Trader Joe's. Greenpeace did a survey of fish sold in Trader Joe's stores and found that they sell 15 of the 22 red list seafoods. Two of the big species they sell are Chilean sea bass and orange roughy ( I won't even get into why people even eat these types of fish but let's just say it's all marketing). Why would Trader Joe's, a store that sells natural and organic food, sell red listed fish? This is the same store that is so careful about labeling all their private label products as vegan, vegetarian, kosher, etc. Why are they so careful about letting consumers know about some products and not about others, specifically fish? And why in some stores are there labels above seafood freezers touting their fish as coming from sustainable sources? False advertising or malicious intent? I think you know the answers to these questions.

So what can you do? If you shop at Trader Joe's, don't purchase their fish. If you feel strongly enough about their false advertising and poor seafood practices you should consider not shopping there. Another thing you can do is take action by sending a message to Trader Joe's VP of Merchandising Matt Sloan here. Because Mom cannot be part of these practices, she is no longer going to shop at Trader Joe's and is also sending a message to Matt Sloan

We decide what we will and won't buy each time we walk into a store. We make decisions to buy items based on several factors. Please let one of your factors be sustainability. We have the power to demand changes through our actions. Let your actions be seen, heard, and felt by doing the right thing.


dw said...

Wow, Stubby, I didn't know about this red list fish stuff. I shop at Trader Joe's for their nuts, mostly, maybe picking up something else from time to time, but I've never gotten fish there. I have looked at their produce, but, you're right about all the plastic wrap. What's up with that?? Thanks for the heads up. I can always count on you to keep us updated on the best way to be good to the planet. Thanks also for your kind words on my bloggie. I'm feeling a bit better, though I still miss little Rainy. She's always be in my heart. I'm so glad you got to meet her, too!

Salinger The Pug said...

Aw man Stubby...Mom really doesn't want to be mad at Trader Joes, but we agree that the fish situation isn't good. Good thing mom doesn't eat most things that swim!

Thanks for the heads up!


Smushie Ranch said...

Hmmm, Stubby. First off, the parents call it 'Traitor Hoes'. They think they're funny, we just humor them.

The parents are always reminding us that we're pretty lucky to live in Morro Bay, which is a fishing community. So they gets their fish right off the boats. The fishermen always grumble about the Traitor Hoe stuff.

The produce isn't much better. Dad knows all about that. Course we gots all the farmer's markets around here too...

The parents won't give up the Traitor Hoe's chocolates though!

Stella, Gunther and Betty

Stubby said...

Hi dw! I didn't know about the red listed fish at Trader Joe's until a couple of weeks ago either. Mom doesn't eat fish and Dad rarely eats fish so they were in the dark about this issue.

The plastic on the produce makes Mom crazy. She has serious issues with plastic use anyway but unnecessary use is enough to drive her to drink.

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hey Salinger! Nobody wants to be mad at Trader Joe's but they need to do the right thing. The fish issue is so serious and if steps aren't taken soon the fisheries will collapse.

I'm so glad your mom doesn't eat most things that swim. That's one reason I love her.

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Stella, Gunther & Betty! I've never heard it called "Traitor Hoes". That cracks me up! I wonder if that's a west coast thing.

You guys are so lucky that you live in Morro Bay. Fresh fish, fresh produce, and fresh air. Will you adopt me?

Stubby xoxo

Pee-s: I totally understand the chocolate thing. Hopefully your parents buy fair trade.

THE PUGLET said...

Hey Stubbs!

I think your human's worrying is totally contagious. When we were making Flat Puglets my human said she could feel her cringing about his plastic-ness... all the way from Chicagoland!

I think her worrying is a good thing though because the stuff she worries about is important. And the stuff she writes about makes people think.

Like the poor fishes. I heard on NPR that Orange Roughy can live to be 149! But not if we eat them :(

~ puglet

PS. sorry about the plastic.

Kelly said...

Another excellent and informative post, Stubby!

Momma is really enjoying learning more about making responsible choices in the things we eat. It has all been very eye opening. Thanks for helping us all learn!


Archie and Melissa said...

hi stubby!
this is a great post! we do not have trader joe's here in co. i am sure there are other grocers out here that are doing similar things. thank you for researching and explaining this issue. now we know what to look for.
m & e

Noodle said...

Puglet is right. You are a wise pug, Stubby! Thanks for alerting us to this problem. I do like Trader Joe's, but I'm a firm believer in sustainability--especially when it comes to seafood. As a former volunteer at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, I was present when the first Seafood Watch cards were introduced. I love to see how far they've come since then. They truly are handy for those of us that are seriously concerned about the health of our oceans. The nice thing about the Seafood Watch program is that it is a work in progress. The staff constantly updates the information adding and moving species to the appropriate lists. It is nice to know that there are indeed many "green" options to choose from. We, the consumer, really can (and do) make a difference. Stubby, you and your mom are making that difference by bringing awareness to the situation. Thank you!
FYI: MBA also has a free Seafood Watch iPhone/iPod app. Anyone with one of these devices can have the latest versions of all the regional guides (and the sushi guide!) in their pocket wherever they are!!

-Mushu's mom

Stubby said...

Hi Puglet! We were cringing with the plastic-ness when we read your post! How weird is that? We weren't sending any bad vibes or anything, I promise.

I wonder if recycled plastic is available to make the next batch of Flat Puglets. We don't have a plastic machine like you do.

The poor fish worry me like crazy. A lot of them live very long lives if humans leave them alone, which of course they don't. I'm glad you don't eat fish.

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Pearly Poo! I'm so your momma is learning lots from my posts. There are so many decisions to be made every day regarding food choices that it all gets very confusing. Aren't you glad we're pugs? We don't have to make decisions about food because we just eat!

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Melissa & Emmitt! I wonder why you guys don't have Trader Joe's in CO. That seems so strange since they seem like they would really fit in there.

I agree that there are probably other stores that practice these deceptive practices. Eventually the word get out about all stores, so I'll keep my eyes open.

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Mushu's mom! What nice compliments - thank you!

That's so cool that you were a volunteer at the aquarium. Mom and Dad visited there last Labor Day and they loved it. Mom showed me the video of the jellyfish and I was blown away. They are so cool!

Thanks for all the info on Seafood Watch program. Mom and Dad visited the aquarium with friends that are big time seafood eaters. Mom showed them the card and explained how to use it. The friends consulted the card all weekend when ordering seafood. Yeah!

Mom told me she knew about the iphone app but she doesn't have it on her phone because she doesn't need it.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you stop by again.

Stubby xoxo

Anonymous said...

I didn't know that but then again we don't have a trader joe's here in BC, or canada I think.

I try my best to buy fresh fish from certain stores or my friend, who's husband works for a fishing boat.

About my veggies.. i use the netted produce bags, i love them!

Apollo said...

Oh dear! My Mommy eats fish almost every day! She said she'll try giving up the monkfish, grouper, and eel. She didn't realize that one type of fish can be good or bad, depending on location (atlantic vs pacific). She said she'll try to be more conscientious on that. She also feels badly, because she likes to go fishing in Michigan and eats the trout and sturgeon when she catches it. Boy, Mommy has a lot of learning to do on this subject.