My Dog Says, Eat More Sardines

My dog taught me to make better seafood choices.

Weird, I know.

You see, my dog has a lot of, er… issues. By the time I adopted her, she had lived on the streets of East St. Louis for three months, bounced through eight different foster homes, and had one failed adoption – all before her first birthday.

Dealing with her emotional baggage has become a big part of my life. Since she doesn’t find pets, praise, or ordinary dog treats very motivating, I’ve had to get more creative in my training. One food she finds really motivating are canned sardines.

Before I got this dog, I had never eaten a sardine. Once my pantry was stocked with at least a dozen tins of sardines – an option I knew was more sustainable and lower in mercury than the neighboring cans of tuna – it was inevitable that I would get curious.

I’ve since become a convert, and it looks I’m not the only one focusing on the sardine as a greener seafood option.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium ranked the Pacific sardine as one of the “Best of the Best” on its new “Super Green List,” which debuted last Tuesday. The list spotlights species that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, relatively low in contaminant levels, and sustainably harvested.

Chefs and culinary leaders launched the “Save Our Seafood” campaign to coincide with the debut of “The Super Green List.” Participants pledge to avoid fish ranked as “red” on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch list and promise to showcase the deliciousness of sustainable seafood on their menus.

Besides chefs doing their part to reacquaint diners with sardines, the sardine’s affordability and distinctive flavor are setting the stage for its culinary comeback. I enjoy smoked sardines in a warm tortilla with sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and a drizzle of mustard vinaigrette. I also love sardines in pasta – try mashing them into pesto or tomato sauce. Sometimes I follow my dog’s lead and eat them straight out of the tin.

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(Top image courtesy of roboppy at flickr under a Creative Commons license)

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About the Author

I'm an ecologist turned journalist turned farmer-in-training. I'm currently working on an organic farm and creamery in Illinois. Follow me on twitter (http://twitter.com/rachelshulman), friend me on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=3105709), or follow me on StumbleUpon (http://www.stumbleupon.com/stumbler/RachelShulman/).
  • Unfortunately, sardines might be more sustainable than tuna, but both are being completely depleted from our oceans, and neither is as sustainable as plants!

  • Rachel Shulman

    Sardine fisheries are not perfect – no fishery is. But sardines could be more sustainable if we stopped using them as feed for farmed tuna.

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