New Questions: What Does Oily Gulf Mean to Future of Already Changing Seafood Market?

winespectator_june30_2010.jpgBeing a Gulf Coast gal, I’ve tried to keep up with the progress of capping the oil leak that’s been spewing thousands of gallons into part of the natural habitat that I dearly love and still consider home. Slick balls of tar began washing ashore the first week of June.

Though it didn’t specifically mention the Gulf crisis, an article in Wine Spectator magazine got me thinking about the changes that could lie ahead in the already complex process of putting seafood on the table. I realized that many fishermen plied the Gulf waters to make a living, and
this will certainly bring hard times for them.

Yet seeing the June 30, 2010, article titled “Sea Change: Traditional fishing still exists, but odds are the fish on your plate grew up on a farm” in Wine Spectator took me by surprise, since I fully expected to see a wine-seafood pairing guide as part of the spread.

Growing up along the coast, I assumed–and took for granted–that much of the seafood I ate was pulled from local waters, the same ones in view of some of my favorite restaurants on Mobile Bay. Fish farming, or aquaculture, I believed, supplied the landlocked, but surely not a coastal city. Could the slick Gulf waters change that, I wonder?

If so, the practice of fish farming is nothing new. Many Asian nations have been doing it for thousands of years, according to the Wine Spectator article. North America’s much shorter history of aquaculture is broadening because of its eco-friendliness, which has been a popular topic for discussion in many food magazines–and soon perhaps because of necessity.

Even then, saving the environment comes at a price. The taste and texture of farmed fish versus wild fish can vary, not to mention size or price. As the pursuit of aquaculture in America becomes more widespread, analysts quoted in the article say those higher costs could even out.

On the one hand, I can breathe a sigh of relief knowing seafood can always be procured for our tables. Then again, until the Gulf Coast is oil-free, I wonder whether some of that seafood will taste the same in my hometown.

Admittedly, I don’t understand the intricacies of aquaculture, and I can’t fathom what the future of the Gulf Coast might be. But, whether intentional or not, this Wine Spectator article most importantly raised some new questions related to both.

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Michelle Ryan

About Michelle Ryan

Michelle Ryan is obsessed with good food, great shoes and Alabama football way down South in Savannah, Georgia. She hasn’t met a kitchen gadget she hasn’t at least thought about buying (trying them is another story) and devotes her time to Bikram Yoga, baking and trying to overcome long-held finicky eating habits.