Did you know that the humble fish stick is, surprisingly, one of the most sustainable things you can eat?
The beloved fish sticks, often relegated to the plates of small children, is sourced from well-managed Alaska Pollock fisheries and poses as minimal a climate impact as one could ever hope for:
A kilogram of fish sticks produces 1.3 kilograms of carbon dioxide, compared to beef which is more than 100 times that number.
The growing and harvesting of many vegetables produce more carbon dioxide than the fish stick.
This is great news because I love fish sticks. They are one of my favorite fish foods.
I also love it when a food despised by snobs is found to be better than expected in many ways.
Similarly, I take great pleasure on listening to people sing the praises of lobster, knowing that their love for this crustacean is the result of their birthday more than anything else.
If you like lobster and consider it a delicacy, consider this:
You’re eating an animal formerly relegated to the role of fertilizer.
When Europeans landed in North America, they wrote that lobsters were so plentiful that they would pile up on the shores of Massachusetts in heaps.
The colonists referred to lobsters as the “cockroaches of the sea.”
Both Europeans and Native Americans despised lobsters so much that they were commonly used as fertilizer and fish bait. When not being used to grow crops and catch better fish, they were fed to incarcerated and enslaved people as a way of saving money.
Contracts at the time actually stipulated that servants could only be served lobster twice a week.
Americans hated lobster.
American opinion on lobster did not change for more than 250 years. Then, in the mid-1800’s, the ability to preserve food in cans, combined with the railroad, allowed Americans in the midwest to purchase canned lobster for the first time. Since it was coming from far away (and thus exotic) and was exceedingly cheap (because it was plentiful), it quickly became the most popular canned food available.
As tourists from the midwest made their way east to the New England shoreline on vacation, they began asking for fresh lobster. New Englanders saw an opportunity and began serving lobster as a New England delicacy. Then, as lobster became more and more scarce and prices increased, Americans even on the east coast began to view lobster as something special.
Scarcity and price changed the way Americas felt about the taste of lobster.
When lobster was cheap and easily available, human begins despised it as a food source. Native Americans occupied New England for tens of thousands of years and never stopped hating lobster. Europeans despised lobster for more than 250 years before eventually changing their opinion when the economics and availability of lobster changed.
It was only when lobster became exotic, expensive, and scarce that it became a delicacy.
If you like lobster, you like it because of when you were born. Had you been born in 1635 or 1750 or 1865, you would hate lobster as much as the colonists and Native Americans did at the time.
But you were born after 1900, when technology and scarcity – not taste – changed the way Americans felt about lobster.
You enjoy lobster because of your birthday.
For the record, I don’t hate lobster. It’s fine, but I don’t find it tasty enough to warrant the expense and effort required to obtain a meat that most people submerge in butter before eating.
If you need to submerge the food you’re eating in melted butter, it’s probably an indication that it’s not nearly as good as you think.
Still, enjoy! I’m not judging. Simply applying a little logic to commonly held perceptions.
Similarly, I don’t like Thai food.
But I’m objective enough to know had I been born and raised in Thailand, I would probably enjoy Thai food very much. My dislike for Thai food is very real, but I’m also willing to admit that had I grown up in Bangkok, I would likely feel differently.
I would probably love Thai food.
For me, my dislike for Thai food is the result of my birthplace.
Not unlike enjoying lobster as a result of your birthday.
But the mighty fish stick?
Fish sticks (and their many variations) are enjoyed by both children and adults in a many countries around the world.
First created in 1953 and now consumed worldwide.