Sustainable Seafood at Allison Dining Hall


(Image courtesy of Northwestern Dining and sustainNU) By Jamie Schmid

The month of April is also known as Earth Month, culminating in Earth Day on April 22. To celebrate these 30 days of everything green and renewable, Northwestern turned Allison dining hall into a seafood restaurant for a week-long sustainable seafood event.

Every day, Allison dining hall prepared a sustainable seafood dish for lunch and “fancier” seafood options, which were available for purchase. These fancy dishes were prepared by a seafood chef, Mark Grosz, who owns Oceanique, a local Evanston restaurant. The purpose of the event, according to the NU dining website, was to “to educate students on the sustainability of their seafood options on campus.” Seafood caught or farmed in a way that fosters its long-term viability as a species fits the definition of sustainable seafood.

At the tables, students were presented with information about seafood industry practices. Some examples of the facts are: Did you know 33 percent of the seafood you eat is mislabeled? Did you know that 10 to 23 billion dollars worth of seafood is stolen each year. Did you know that a minimum of 20 percent of seafood is caught illegally?

Sustainable seafood week’s aim was to raise awareness among Northwestern diners and help them to make more responsible purchases in the future. It’s easy for students to buy tuna sushi from Whole Foods or grab a fish fry from a dining hall without thinking about the consequences of their purchase. And it's not just ocean life that is impacted; the seafood industry can also impede on human rights in some instances. Recently, the Guardian uncovered a slavery ring with the Thai seafood industry. According to the investigation, human trafficking and slavery are common within Thailand’s fishing industry. People are kidnapped from neighboring countries and forced illegal fishing trades.

“I honestly had no idea the practices of the seafood industry was in such a troubling place. I definitely feel more educated after eating in Allison this past week,” said Allison resident and diner Gabrielle Peck. To learn more about the seafood industry and how to be a more environmentally and socially conscious consumer, visit Seafood Watch to learn if your choice of fish is a renewable one. If you’re interested in learning more about ocean conservation, visit Oceana - the largest non-profit solely devoted to protecting our oceans.

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