I’ve Got a Tin of Sardines…

…and I’m not afraid to use it!

By jules (Flickr: sardines in a can) via Wikimedia Commons

By jules (Flickr: sardines in a can) via Wikimedia Commons

Actually, I am, a little. I bought the tin weeks ago at the Co-op in hopes of eating lower on the food chain. I have not yet worked up the nerve to peel back that shiny lid and peek inside. I may need a clothespin for my nose when I do. Little fishies can be so…fishy.

But I’m determined to conquer my fear of the little fishies and make them part of my diet. Or at least ingest them once and see if it’s possible to consider…one day…loving them as much as I love salmon. Why? Efficiency of dining, mainly. If I eat a sardine instead of the big fish that eats the sardine–no matter how much more appealing said big fish might be–I reduce my impact.

It seems I know too much. And I can’t un-know what I know. What we eat has consequences. In the case of seafood, overfishing is rampant, and then there’s pollution, climate change, habitat destruction, and ocean acidification. Leaving us with a “system in crisis,” according to the National Geographic.

All that knowledge makes my fallback choice on any restaurant menu, salmon, seem a bit fraught.

Though according to the National Geographic Seafood Decision Guide, salmon–at least wild-caught Alaskan salmon–is actually one of the better choices in the ocean-going protein buffet. It is “abundant, well-managed, and caught or farmed in ocean-friendly ways.” Three cheers for that.

But sardines are equally well rated, equally low in mercury, and equally high in omega-threes. Then there’s the fact that it takes five pounds of forage fish to produce a pound of farm-raised fish. So I still feel bound to try these little fishy-fishes.

By TANAKA Juuyoh Uploaded by Jacopo Werther) via Wikimedia Commons

By TANAKA Juuyoh (Uploaded by Jacopo Werther) via Wikimedia Commons

It strikes me, unpleasantly, that they’re kind of like the worms and grubs of the ocean world. Grubs are food for birds; sardines are food for bigger fish, and for chickens and pigs too.

No matter: I’m sure they’re deelish. (Just like grubs, which, after all, are food for people all over the world. I wrote a piece about that once, and fully expect to one day venture bugward in my dining.)

Helpfully, in the meantime Slow Food International has begun a push for upping human consumption of anchovies, complete with recipe contest. (Nate at the Co-op shook his head at my sardine purchase and advised anchovies next time.)

Oh faithful readers, do you eat sardines or anchovies, those humble fishies known as forage fish? If so, pray, how do you fix them? Give me some ideas to go with Slow Food’s and Rachael Ray’s suggestions. I promise to report back after my first foray into this brave new culinary world.

8 thoughts on “I’ve Got a Tin of Sardines…

  1. yes, knowledge can sure put a damper on ignorant bliss…I haven’t bought fish since I saw a film about overfishing – another in the ‘truth genre’ of films I seem eagerly attracted to. I have a can of Mackerel that I have yet to open – I’ve never bought Sardines, I love Salmon too, and saw that Kroger has a sale on Alaskan Wild Caught (in cans)…so I stocked up last night. I suppose one could consider starting an Aquaponics system, but I’m sure they’ld turn into being my ‘pet fish’ – I can chop a head off of a broccoli plant, but anything with eyes and moves – not so good at.

  2. Laura, I can just imagine you with pet fish. Thanks for making me smile!

    Over on Facebook I’m getting some ideas for sardines — put ’em on a cracker, eat with crusty bread and mustard, sneak into potato salad or pasta. Lots of options.

  3. Yes say a prayer and bow to the four corners of the earth. Thank the heavens and the stars for giving us our daily bread. The bottom line is we need food to eat and stay healthy. It seems we need a variety of food. Depending on where we live we can adapt our diet to where we live. Just like the natives do.

    Sardines are wonderfully nutritious. My Dad started me on sardine sandwiches. Bread, butter and sardines.

  4. Pingback: Midwest’s First Community Supported Fishery | Shawndra Miller

  5. Pingback: From the Low Food Chain Chronicles | Shawndra Miller

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