Could fresh fish be an environmental evil?

As the Washington Post reports, a few chefs and catering companies are pushing frozen fish as the carbon-conscious alternative to fresh, hoping to persuade food professionals to buy less same-day seafood from, say, Hawaii. Bon Appétit Management Company, a national food-service outfit, has estimated that shipping seafood by air generates “10 times as much greenhouse gas as transferring it by container ship.” With proper handling, Bon Appétit says, the differences between fresh and frozen seafood are negligible, and it has vowed to stop buying air-flown fish by April 2009.

As the Post notes, frozen fish has historically been a bulk commodity item. (Think school lunch.) That’s why getting it onto menus at white-tablecloth restaurants won’t be easy. As the head of Kona Blue Water Farms, a Hawaiian company that’s made a name for itself with sustainably farmed yellowtail, smartly says, “‘Fresh’ is the single most powerful adjective in describing seafood.”

I’d wager that the kids these days buy their first flash-frozen fish at Trader Joe’s, which has a much-discussed selection. For how-tos on preparing good frozen fish, see the advice of Mark Bittman and the collective wisdom of the Chowhound boards.

See more articles