Caitlyn Toropova, program coordinator for the Conservancy's Global Marine Team
By Caitlyn Toropova
One way I've made positive environmental changes in my life is to ask where my food comes from. And to keep asking.
What and how you consume has a barrage of effects on multiple environments:
So whether you're in a restaurant or grocery story, just ask: “Where does this food come from?” If your server doesn’t know, have them ask the chef.
I have been doing this for the last five years, and I've never received a negative response; the worst outcome has been that they don’t know. And if they don’t know, I don’t order it.
In fact, there's almost always an alternative food to choose that is more sustainable, local or organic:
Here's one great example: I discovered that many of the shrimp in the frozen-food aisle and at my favorite restaurants came from shrimp ponds created by tearing down mangrove forests — ponds often quickly polluted and abandoned.
So now I only eat sustainably caught shrimp. If shrimp is imported, especially from developing nations, it’s often caught in an unsustainable method.
Your best bet is to buy shrimp from the U.S. Gulf of Mexico or other well-managed wild species (for example, pink shrimp from Oregon). Having a seafood guide in you purse or wallet helps with this one. Try the Seafood Watch card from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
And if sustainably caught seafood isn’t available, have the chicken. Local, organic chicken, that is.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not represent those of The Nature Conservancy.February 21, 2011