I grew up in Vancouver, where cheap sushi is ubiquitous. There are sushi joints that seem to almost pride themselves on serving huge portions of fish on a bit of rice and contrary to how much you think you would have to pay for consuming so much fish…it’s fairly inexpensive. I’ve travelled to quite a few metropolitan cities but I have yet to find myself in a sushi city like Vancouver.
If you love sushi, you should see the 2011 film Jiro Dreams of Sushi by Director David Gelb. The focus of the film is Jiro-san, a sprightly 85 year old Japanese man who runs a 3 Michelin star sushi restaurant in Tokyo, but also includes other members of his family (both real and work). It’s really interesting hearing their philosophy on the ingredients that they use, on their preparation methods, and on life, and the cinematography is just astoundingly beautiful. I guarantee that even if you walked into the theatre with a full stomach, you’ll likely walk out wanting to have a taste of sushi. Mouth-watering visuals, let me tell you.
The film includes a visit to the very popular (with tourists) Tsukiji Fish Market and a fish monger explains that the tuna lying in the warehouse, albeit huge, are not as big as they used to be. The film explains that tuna take many years to grow up and not only is overfishing an issue but trawling the bottoms of the ocean also leads to young tuna being caught along with everything else. They don’t get the chance to grow to their prized large size but what’s worse, you cut out the young fish and you’re cutting out not only this generation but all future generations too; the numbers dwindle very rapidly.
And this is where my two anecdotes tie together: we love tuna, we love cheap sushi, but all of that fish has to come from somewhere…and the more and more we eat, the less and less fish might exist in the oceans. The fish monger explains that the next generation of people may not know what tuna is because it will be extinct; sure enough, Greenpeace has a handful of species of tuna on their seafood red list for unsustainable fisheries. Sure, there’s a lot of research being funnelled into tuna farming, but aquaculture can’t and shouldn’t be considered as a replacement of wild breeds, especially when we’re dealing with an endangered species.
Makes me think twice about going for that cheap sushi.