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Environmentally and Eco Friendly Sushi

Updated on October 11, 2010

Certain types of sushi are friendlier than others.  Friendly to the planet, that is. If you have a great love of sushi but are trying to do right by planet Earth, then you really need to consider what you are holding in your chopsticks.

Sushi maybe healthy for you (when it is not contaminated), but due to ecological concerns, there are certain types that should be avoided. Often, the way the fish are caught or harvested is damaging to the ocean floor, other species or the entire surrounding ecosystem.

Unfortunately, it's not that simple to figure out what is eco-friendly sushi and what should be eliminated. For example, Uni (sea urchin) from Canada is eco-friendly sushi, but Uni from California is just eco-ok. Uni from Maine is rated eco-worst and you are consuming at your own risk. It is contains unknown contaminants.

Is your sushi eco-friendly?
Is your sushi eco-friendly?

Here are some of the other issues for this particular sushi ingredient as outlined by the Environmental Defense Fund:

  • Maine's green sea urchin populations are in critical condition. Although precautionary practices have been established to lower the chance of overfishing, stocks are already low.
  • Urchins are harvested both by hand and with bottom draggers. Lightweight draggers does can harm the ocean floor.

Although I don't eat sushi anymore (vegetarian these days) the only thing that can really tempt me is unagi. Unagi made the list of eco-worst (eco-rude, I suppose) due to the decline of wild eel populations and farming operations that discharge untreated wastewater, spreading disease. It is also recommended that if you do choose to consume Unagi, that it's not safe to do so more than 4 times per month due to the high level of contaminants.

You could just make the switch to vegetarian sushi...but I'm not going to go into all the green reasons to go vegan or vegetarian. I'll save that rant for another day. Taking the time to consider your food choices and recognizing that you can help the planet (and your own health) by choosing differently is a green step towards preserving our planets resources and wildlife.

For a complete guide to eco-friendly sushi, download the Environmental Defense Fund's Pocket Sushi Selector. They also have a version that can be downloaded directly onto your mobile phone.


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    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut

      Unagi is hard to give up - I know - but do be careful of where it comes from (much of it is badly contaminated) or limit eating it to once a month or so...I'm sorry to bring such bad news. :)

    • emievil profile image

      emievil 8 years ago from Philippines

      Oh wow. I love sushi! Does this mean I have to say goodbye to unagi sushi, salmon sushi and tuna sushi? =(

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks for reading Rgraf - it is amazing to me how pollutants can get into every las tthing we come in contact with! Sushi and fish can be dangerous to consume if you are not careful about where it is from.

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 8 years ago from Wisconsin

      Wow! I never knew that. I'm not a sushi person but I'll be honest that I never really thought much past what was on the plate. thank you for the information.

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut

      What I've read does imply that a little, although I know that the pacific has plenty of problems.

    • ocbill profile image

      ocbill 8 years ago from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice

      maybe this means the waters in the northeast (atlantic) are more polluted or enviromentally critical than the pacific.