07 July 2010

Watch what you eat – it’s the SASSI thing to do

Ingrid Sinclair
Giant yellowtail are currently listed as a Green species by SASSI. Photograph by Geoff Spiby

With all the emphasis on going green these days, it can be hard to see through the murky waters of eco-friendly living. After all, we shouldn’t discount the possibility that many products out there have claimed to “go green” simply to cash in on growing global trends that see a preference for ethically conscious products.

But, from taking your own shopping bags to the grocery store to choosing not to print out that email, there are a number of actions we can take in our daily lives to make a difference.

And if you don’t think you can make a difference, consider the butterfly effect: loosely defined, the “butterfly effect” is a scientific term (not merely a clichéd catchphrase) that refers to “small differences in the initial condition of a dynamical system [which] may produce large variations in the long term behaviour of the system.” This is a concept we’re sure our South African butterflyfish will happily endorse!

But living green not only depends on watching what you put into the environment; it’s also about what you take out. And that applies to removing indigenous flora and fauna from their natural habitat, to using non-renewable resources like petrol with wild abandon, and also to what you put on your dinner plate.

Seafood is no exception, and that’s where the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI) comes in. Following the example of a number of similar organisations in the international arena, like Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch and the Australian Marine Conservation Society’s Sustainable Seafood Initiative, SASSI was initiated in 2004.

Leervis (or garrick) are as Red (illegal to buy or sell) on SASSI's Consumers' Seafood List

While SASSI operates in a number of seafood milieus – from wholesalers to restaurants and all participants in the seafood trade – they’ve also set up a very useful, colour-coded guide to making sustainable seafood choices. Green means go, Orange means be careful, and Red means stop. Sound familiar?

Download the SASSI card below and be informed about what goes into your tummy!

There are plenty of alternatives provided, so rather than this being a “you can’t do that” kind of guide, it’s a “you’ll be doing a good thing if you …” primer.

Green species include but aren’t limited to calamari, hake and black mussels, so you are still spoilt for choice. Sounds like the perfect ingredients for a delicious paella!

SASSI’s website also lists participating restaurants as well as sea-friendly recipes.

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