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SUSHI: THE GLOBAL CATCH explores the real cost of tuna

bluefin tuna and other sushi

I’m not crazy about sushi. I’ll eat it if I’m out with friends and they really want it, but you’ll never hear me say, “Hey, let’s get some sushi.” I realize that, in many people’s minds, that make me a total Neanderthal: contemporary standards of middle-class sophistication mean not only craving this Japanese specialty food, but declaring how much you looovvve it (I think you have to say it just that way).

It turns out all those “sophisticated” palates are creating quite a strain on bluefin tuna populations. Bluefin (as I’m sure you already know) is the preferred species for sushi rolls, and all of that demand for it has led to unsustainable fishing practices, which are hurting both bluefin tuna themselves and larger ocean ecosystems. Now, just imagine what happens when another 50 million Chinese decide that they just looovvve sushi, too.

That’s the premise behind SUSHI: THE GLOBAL CATCH, a documentary that opened in New York this past weekend. While the film’s first half-hour or so celebrates sushi, its place in Japanese culture and its spread around the world, the rest of the film shows the environmental impact of all that love. Take a look at the trailer to get a sense of the film’s focus:

Given the money being made off of the bluefin trade, the film suggests that consumers choosing sushi options other than tuna can make the most difference. NPR reviewer Joel Arnold finds that conclusion one-sided (though he notes it’s also persuasive — and he likes the idea of farming bluefin). Other reviewers, such as The New York Times‘ Rachel Saltz and Variety‘s John Anderson, find other flaws in the film, but still recommend it. If you had a chance to check out SUSHI on the festival circuit last year (where it won several awards), or this weekend in New York, let us know what you think, and whether it altered your own sushi habit.

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Photo credit: ulterior epicure via photo pin cc