Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Guilt-free Eating?

That wonderful dinner we had last weekend to celebrate my son-in-law’s birthday keeps playing back to me. Not the conversation but rather the menu. The restaurant where we celebrated specializes in seafood. The choices in our group ranged from a seafood sampler to mahi-mahi, Chilean sea bass, and salmon. I had the steelhead trout, which was delicious.

I knew as we were placing our orders that some of those fish, like the Chilean bass, were among those that are being depleted from our oceans. I did not speak up and tell my companions this, and I guess I feel a little guilty that I didn’t. I don’t carry one of the Seafood Watch pocket guides that tell you what seafood to avoid and offers good alternatives. Even if I did, I am not sure I would have said anything. There was more that I could feel guilty about, too, besides the decadent desserts that we enjoyed. None of the fish, including mine, were local varieties and all had to be shipped to this suburb of Chicago so we could enjoy our meal.

Today as I was checking out a couple of my favorite blogs for Earth Day I came across an updated version of a way to check my Ecological Footprint. One of the questions it asks is how much of the food I eat is local. My choices were limited – all, half, a quarter or none, so I picked a quarter, knowing that’s not totally true. It might be true in the summer, but certainly not at this time of year. I do avoid buying cantaloupe and tomatoes in the off – season but admittedly that is as much because they don’t taste good and are too expensive.

I try to be careful about other things that I buy, too, with some shopping trips being more successful than others. Between counting calories, cholesterol and salt, watching the budget, and worrying about my various footprints, I wonder if it is possible to eat guilt-free anymore.

Back to fish. I eat little meat, mostly for health reasons but at this point fish, poultry and veggie meals are my preference. I would like to eat local fish, but given the cautions about Great Lakes fish, what would I eat? And where would I buy it? And how would I know if it was safe? I don’t have the answers to these questions and if someone can help me out on it, I would appreciate it.

There is one thing I do not have to feel guilty about today. I promised that I would not drive on Earth Day and I didn’t – and it was harder than I expected. My plans for the day were cancelled and I had nothing much to do. I thought about visiting a friend who lives on the other side of town, or going shopping, or taking Burlee out to a park, but all would have meant driving, so I didn’t. I didn’t do laundry either, although that was not a hardship.

Burlee and I did go for a walk close to home. Along our route, we saw a few of the sport fishermen that enjoy Lake Michigan. Some were along the harbor; others were getting their boats ready in the Small Boat Harbor, as seen above. Soon that harbor, which cannot accommodate the tall masts of sailboats, will be filled with fishing boats of all sizes. Fishermen of all sizes, too. I just wonder if they eat what they catch.

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