There is a saying in the nutritional world: “Eat to live, don’t live to eat” . I am a native of Louisiana so this statement makes zero sense to me. Food is a huge part of our culture, from acquiring food through fishing to competitive cook-offs and guarding family recipes. Even though I am someone who lives to eat, I still worry about the environmental impact of my choices.There are many good reasons to avoid cows, chickens, and pigs. The environmental impact of mass producing meat is far-reaching and the process is gross. It is also questionable on moral grounds; people are starving in the world. The calories in the grain used to feed farm animals could feed many more people than the meat does.Furthermore, eating beef contributes to global warming. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization reported in 2006 that livestock is responsible for approximately 18% of global warming pollution. We have all heard the jokes but would it surprise you to know that most of the methane gas from cows is from their belches? Also contributing to the climate problem is the destruction of carbon sinks, e.g. forests, which are required for grazing.But what about Fish? Eating fish is good for you, omega 3’s, healthy protein, and all that. But it has its drawbacks, of course. Carnivorous fish farming requires large amounts of wild fish for feed. Other farmed fish can have much higher levels of contamination than wild caught fish because of the contaminants that are added during the processing of the fish food. Many animals get caught up in fishing nets and must be tossed out, known as bycatch. It is estimated that 25% of the commercial seafood harvest is wasted bycatch.Making the right choices can be tricky. Luckily, I recently visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium and noticed little pocket-sized cards that read “Seafood WATCH” . Since seafood was already on my mind, I picked one up and was delighted to find a gem’s worth of information to help me diet more sustainably.The Aquarium’s guide recommends that you ask 3 questions when eating out or shopping:1. Where is the seafood from?2. Is it farmed or wild-caught?3. How was it caught?Choose seafood caught more locally to you. The US has better regulations on bycatch, habitat protection, and farming practices. Furthermore, the more local the seafood was caught the fresher it is likely to be. You are also doing your part to limit global warming by buying local and cutting transportation time for your food.Wild caught fish are generally better than farmed as farming fish can be harmful to the local environment and the contamination in the fish tends to be higher. If you choose farmed fish, omnivorous fish (tilapia) are better than carnivorous fish and seafood (tuna, and salmon).Dredging, gillnetting, and trawling are bad because they damage important habitat and increase the risk of bycatch. Harpooning, trolling, and hook and lining are environmentally responsible ways to fish. Check the Seafood Watch website for a specific list of “Best Choices” and “Good Alternatives” in the “Southeast Seafood Guide 2007” .To help get you started on a sustainable seafood diet here is my family’s rabidly guarded seafood gumbo recipe. Enjoy!The Roux: Equal parts peanut oil and flour (1 cup each), flat edged wooden spatula, cast iron skillet. Add oil and keep heat at slightly higher than medium heat. Sprinkle flour in slowly while stirring continuously. Be sure to scrape the bottom so the flour does not burn. Get the roux a very dark chocolate brown but not black! This can take up to 45 minutes. When the roux is the darkest possible add the green onions (1 cup chopped into inch pieces), remove from heat, and stir vigorously adding a little green bell pepper (1/2 cup) and celery (1/4 cup) and as much yellow onion as will fit in your skillet. Roux will sizzle and it smells really good. Meanwhile, have a pot of water or fish stock at medium heat (a gallon) standing by. When the sizzling stops add roux and veggies to water and stir until dissolved. Add the rest of your vegetables (1/2 cup bells, yellow onion (2 cups), celery (1 cup). Add cayenne pepper, gumbo file, garlic, thyme, rosemary, oregano, and salt to taste. If this is your first time, use a pinch of each. You can always add more later if you want more spice. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat to a simmer and leave for about 45 minutes. Cook the rice. When the soup tastes right, bring back to a boil. Add the shrimp (1 lbLouisiana caught) wait 2-3 minutes. Add 1 lb cleaned Louisiana crawfish tails wait 2-3 minutes. Add 1 lb sustainable tilapia white fish wait 2-3 minutes. Add lastly add 1 lb gulf coast oysters cook and cook another 2 minutes. Make sure your seafood is properly cooked! Take off heat. Put a little bit of rice in a bowl and spoon out some gumbo on top. cleaned and peeled wild Casey Roberts is the GRN’s Special Projects Coordinator

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