As a man who does a lot of cooking I have mixed emotions about celebrity chefs. On one hand you can pick up some useful ideas from their shows and on the other hand some of their creations are an exercise in "look what a talented chef I am. Really, I'm fucking awesome. I'm showing you how to make this fantastic creation but you plebs will have no chance at making it. Yours will probably come out looking like a science experiment but I'll patronise you anyway so you buy my book".
That said a few are doing a bit more then flog their wares and making housewives feel inferior. They are doing something, dare i say it, useful.
Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Heston Blumenthal have got together with Channel 4 to back a campaign highlighting some of the mad, bad and sad practices of the fishing industry.
Did you know that half of the fish caught in the North Sea get thrown back dead as EU quotas only allow a certain amount of commonly eaten fish to be caught? If fisherman accidentally catch over-quota fish they are forced to throw them back.
Also intensive modern fishing methods cannot selectively distinguish the types of fish caught. So anything that isn't going to sell gets chucked back in dead. This is perfectly good tasty fish and I'm sure you'd agree, a disgusting waste of resources. Oh, and if the odd dolphin gets sucked up in the nets, well, that's just too bad.
Cod, salmon and tuna account for ovr 50% of fish we eat in the UK and the celebtrity chefs are trying to diversify our eating habits as this will influence the stocks on supermarket shelves. At the end of the day the customer is king and the supermarkets want your money. Start askng for pouting, dab or sardines and supermarkets will start stocking the kind of fish that normally gets wasted.
Jamie Oliver says:
"Our appetite for the same fish, day in, day out, is sucking the seas dry. We don't need to stop eating them but if we try a few different fish as well, it will help take some of the pressure off."
Hugh's online campaign calling on the EU to act to cut the vast number of dead fish being thrown overboard reached half a million signatures this week.
In fact Fearnley-Whittingstall has already struck a blow for dwindling fish stocks by persuading Tesco to exclusively source tuna caught by pole and line (the most sustainable form of fishing) for their own brand canned tuna. As they are the major player in the UK and Brits are the 2nd largest consumer of tuna in the world this is great news.
I am partial to a bit of fish as it about the healthiest meal you can eat without sticking exclusively to lettuce leaves. On my recent jaunts I have sampled the delights of locally caught cajun catfish, crawfish and caribbean red snapper. We have similarly light, tasty and healthy options in British seas that you can try for your evening din-dins.
I fully support this initiative and you should too. Sign the petition here www.fishfight.net