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Conscious Eating - Just Us or Do We Spread the Word and How?


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Not About Food

Conscious Eating - Just Us or Do We Spread the Word and How?

bulavinaka | | Dec 29, 2008 10:04 AM

A couple of recent threads relating to what many would generally consider, "Conscious Eating," have been gaining traction on this board.

I'd like to thank the Chow Team for allowing us in having some meaningful dialogue on this matter of growing concern. With that said, hopefully The Team will indulge me with this post as well.

After witnessing some of the most immoral, corrupt and unethical behavior coming to fruition in our country and the world over the past year or so, I still believe that the vast majority of us want to do good. For many of us, this concern rolls into what we eat. Many of us have been sounding out on the posts that I referred to above. And as lightly as we want to walk upon this planet, many of us (me included) are not light enough to walk on water. However, most of us do agree that certain foods and practices need to be addressed, regardless of what is deemed acceptable, culturally or otherwise. The bottom line is, in many ways, we are eating our planet to death.

If there is one food item that draws the greatest ire, it would be shark fin. That sharks have been successful as a species for time eternal is common knowledge. What many don't know or don't care to know is that after so many millions of years of performing their vital roles in the oceans' ecosystems, shark populations are reaching critically small numbers in most parts of the world.

The single most devastating factor that is severely reducing their numbers is the demand for shark fin in Asia and its extended populations. Shark fin is considered to be one of the prerequisites in many Chinese banquets, as well as higher end dim sum and seafood restaurants. Representing wealth and prestige, shark fin is a must-do by the host out of respect to his many guests, often numbering in the three- to four-hundred range for invited guests. This one course alone will cost many hosts dearly, but this is one fate that most are willing to accept. Not doing so would be to "lose face," which for many Asians is tantamount to death.

Prior to the dynamic rise of China's economy, the harvesting of shark fin, while not considered nominal, was probably still not a dire threat to worldwide shark populations. The birth and growth of the economic mini-dragons back in the 80s did result in a bump on the demand of shark fin. However, with the rippling economic stimuli of China's boom on Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Indonesia, along with about 1.5 billion new candidates in China now exponentially increasing the demand for shark fin, armadas of shark finning ships are now sweeping the oceans of sharks to satisfy this unprecedented and continuous demand for this pricey commodity. This delicacy can cost the host a fair amount of coins. I've read numbers that astound me. Some claim that one shark is harvested to supply the demand for each person who is served shark fin soup. The prices that I've seen are approximately $350-$400 per 5-6" fin, and often $50 to $150 per bowl of shark fin soup. Whether or not these numbers are accurate is not the issue. Even if these numbers are approximations, one can surmise that the supply-side will be inclined to provide as much of this commodity as possible. Compounding the shark issue is the relatively slow reproductive rate of sharks, particularly those that are in demand - those that tend to be large enough for harvesting fins. This issue is all about scale, and is truly a sad state of affairs for the shark. If you're a shark, over one fourth of the world's population wants you in their soup bowl many times over.

So those of us who feel the urgency of such examples of devastation are voicing our concerns. However, are we all just preaching to the choir, and is our choir not being heard outside of our church? And if we open our windows so others can hear us sing, are we now imposing our uninvited sermons upon others? How do we "spread the word," about how urgent so many of these food-related issues are? Thanks...

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