Cheap Sushi, Fake Sushi and Time to Boycott All Sushi: Overpriced Grub Fleeces Naïve Consumers Who Need to Revolt

Not only are the oceans being emptied of fish stocks at an irreplaceable rate, but naïve consumers are getting fleeced in the process by fake and overpriced sushi products all over the United States. Decades ago small operators figured out that the profit margin for sushi was fantastic, thus ushering in all kinds of restaurants to include it on their menus. At the same time consumers, who think of themselves as savvy, were getting fleeced for billions of dollars by purveyors of mislabeled products and substandard fare containing parasites or chemicals. Seems the savvy consumers have been getting snookered for decades. Now the time has come to reverse the sushi revolution with a consumer backlash worthy enough to save the money and health of millions and strong enough for the industrial fishing companies cease operations.

The Global High Seas Marine Preserve, a non-profit dedicated to saving the oceans, could solve the sushi fraud problem in one stroke; ban industrial fishing in international waters and unleash a major international maritime military force to enforce the ban worldwide. It would save oceans  and save consumers from wasting money and their health on fake sushi. Read on for more info on fake sushi in your life.

Recent studies of sushi restaurants in Los Angeles and New York City concluded that at least 40% of the menu items were mislabeled. So Spicy Tuna Handrolls, which cost at least $5.00 a crack, are probably not tuna, which would frankly be a good thing considering tuna are almost extinct. But what must be noted is that all those upscale patrons, laughing and thinking themselves so hip, are getting ripped off at these establishments and probably have been for decades. One is better off getting a steak with all the trimmings than being taken to the cleaners with fake sushi, and even if it is real it is way overpriced and, in the midst of the current ocean crisis, a morally tenuous purchase at best.

Oceana released a new report detailing the global scale of seafood fraud, finding that on average, one in five of more than 25,000 samples of seafood tested worldwide was mislabeled. In the report, Oceana reviewed more than 200 published studies from 55 countries, on every continent except for Antarctica. The studies found seafood fraud present in each investigation with only one exception. The studies reviewed also found seafood mislabeling in every sector of the seafood supply chain: retail, wholesale, distribution, import/export, packaging/processing and landing. An interactive map of the global seafood fraud review compiled by Oceana can be found at www.oceana.org/seafoodfraudmap.

I was one of those consumers and feel ashamed at the naivety of my continued patronage of these “clip joints.” Larry Olmstead’s book, Real Food/Fake Food: Why You Don’t Know What You’re Eating and What You Can Do about It, According to Real Food/Fake Food, is a must read for all restaurant going consumers and he skewers sushi purveyors by noting that ordering white tuna get one a “different animal” 94% percent of the time. What do you get? Well, according to Olmstead it is escolar, known as “Ex-Lax fish” in the seafood industry, and a diarrhea inducing time-bomb banned and then unbanned by the FDA.

“So when people think they are sick because their tuna has gone bad, it’s way more likely they never even had tuna in the first place,” Olmsted said. Tilefish, on the FDA do-not-eat list for children and pregnant women, is switched for red snapper or halibut and tilapia, less adverse but really bad, is substituted for swapped for tuna as well.

Olmstead says the sushi should be “treated like fast food.”

It is time to kill the low-end sushi industry and put a major dent in the high-end versions by banning industrial fishing on the high seas. To help the Global High Seas Marine Preserve achieve this goal go to www.SavingOceans.org.

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