Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Boring Americans: The Seafood Edition

Americans have boring tastes. In general, they tend to stick to a limited amount of choices, rarely venturing out to explore the possibilities. For example, when considering wine consumption in the U.S., a small number of grapes dominate the market, with Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon leading the pack. This is despite the fact that there are hundreds of grapes used to make wine around the world. Why aren't more Americans adventurous with their plates?

Sadly, this applies to seafood consumption too. There are more than 100 seafood species available in U.S. markets, but only 6 species account for 91% of the seafood consumed in the U.S. Once again, Americans show that their culinary choices are generally boring. There is a bounty of available seafood species, but most Americans won't venture out to try all of these delicious and interesting species. Why is that the case?

The top seafood for Americans is shrimp, and the average person consumes over four pounds a year, an amount equivalent to the average consumption of the #2 and #3 seafoods, canned tuna and salmon. The other three seafood in the top six include Alaska pollock, tilapia and Pangasius catfish. Such limited choices. In comparison, the Japanese regularly consume far more different species, as 80% of their seafood derives from 18 different species, three times as many as Americans. However, the Americans are not along in their limited choices. For example, 80% of Iceland's seafood consumption derives from only six species and 80% of Norway's seafood consumption only comes from five species.      

As Americans rely on such a limited amount of seafood species, that puts a greater strain on those species. It would help promote sustainability if more Americans diversified their seafood palate, eating less common species, which can be equally as delicious as the more common ones. I recently described the benefits of eating mussels, yet only about 1% of Americans eat mussels. Why not add mussels to your list of commonly eaten seafood?

When you next dine at a seafood restaurant, why not try something different, a type of seafood you have never eaten before? Ask your server for suggestions. When you visit your local seafood market or seafood department, try something new, and ask your fish monger for suggestions. Be adventurous with your palate and you might find some new favorites.

1 comment:

Frederick Wright said...

According to the book "Unmentionable Cuisine" by Calvin W. Schwabe, Americans are astoundingly provincial in their food tastes, often preferring FICTIONAL foods over once-common comestibles like lamb.