Cafeterias, prisons and federal food programs may soon be serving a high-mercury fish in seemingly innocuous form.
"It’s Thursday morning at the Portland Public Schools central kitchen on Riverside Street in Portland, Maine. A crew of white-coat-clad kitchen employees is preparing locally landed Acadian redfish fillets topped with oyster cracker crumbs and seasoned with Old Bay for more than 2,000 elementary school students. This facility prepares local seafood once a month as part of the district’s commitment to the local food movement.
“We’re either doing redfish,” says Ron Adams, the director of food services, “or sometimes, we’ll get the haddock coming off Georges Bank.” Although Adams prefers the haddock, he’s pleased with the redfish, especially since it helps support beleaguered local fishermen.
Species like Acadian redfish, scup and sea robin have earned the moniker “trash fish” in commercial fishermen’s eyes because demand is so low that the price per pound makes them hardly worth landing. Some of these species are so abundant that they can interfere with harvesting money-making species, such as cod. But cod and other iconic New England seafood species are disappearing because of overfishing, and fisheries managers have drastically limited the amounts fishermen can catch. So trash fish are now getting a makeover."
Ret Talbot reports for Discover magazine June 24, 2014.