Southern California environment news and trends

Whole Foods, Safeway earn top seafood marks from Greenpeace

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Earlier this month, Greenpeace released their 2012 Carting Away the Oceans report (AKA CATO). It found that grocery chains Safeway and Whole Foods are the first retailers to earn a “green” rating for the sustainability of the seafood sold in their stores.

“Safeway and Whole Foods have transformed themselves into true industry leaders,” said Greenpeace’s Senior Markets Campaigner Casson Trenor in a press release. “There is certainly still more work to be done, but we celebrate the achievements of these companies and eagerly await similar actions from other retailers posed to embrace sustainability to a greater degree.”

Both stores earned a rating of 7.1 out of 10, with 7 being the lowest score that qualifies as “green” in the annual report, launched in 2008. Greenpeace was especially enamored with Whole Foods’ recent Earth Day-related pledge to stop selling “red-listed” seafood species, a move we reported on last month. To be red-listed, a species is determined to be from depleted waters or collected through destructive means.


Whole Foods Market: Sustainable seafood only

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Whole Foods Market has announced that as of Earth Day 2012, stores will no longer sell seafood from depleted waters or collected through environmentally damaging means.

As reported by Treehugger, the Austin, Texas based grocery store chain is banning all seafood that is rated red, as in “avoid,” by a color code established in partnership with the Blue Ocean Institute and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Green is the highest rating or “best choice,” for abundant species caught in environmentally friendly ways. Yellow is a “good alternative,” although there might still be concerns with catch methods or species status.

“They'll be the first (and so far only, but we hope that will change) national grocer to do so,” says Carl Safina of the Blue Ocean Institute to the Huffington Post. “Their original target date was one year from now. But they're so committed, they got there a year early.” Whole Foods Market has been working with the Marine Stewardship Council since the late ‘90s on sustainable seafood certification.


The easiest way to order fish in a restaurant?

Knowledge is power, right? Or at least half the battle, says GI Joe. But knowing too much about seafood can have the same effect as a phaser set to stun. That's the way it's been for me since Labor Day weekend, when I went on a marathon bike ride along the coast and I smelled fish fresh off of peoples' poles. After talking to Casson Trenor, who wrote about buying sushi right, I stay away from supermarket sushi. 

And when I do eat out, I tend to stay away from fish, because I moved here from Louisiana, where people in restaurants, even front-of-house, knew where their seafood was from. (And there, if they didn't tell you, you ran.) Here, I'm surprised how often restaurant staff don't know where fish come from, just as I'm surprised my friends can ever stop rolling their eyes at my questions.