Alton Brown is voting with his taste buds.
He is among more than two dozen chefs -- who also include Suzanne Goin of Lucques, Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken of Border Grill and Rick Moonen of rm seafood in Las Vegas -- from around the country who are pledging today to serve only sustainable seafood and to recruit their colleagues and customers to join them.
Their effort is organized by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is releasing a report today on the state of the oceans as well as a "Super Green" list of seafood that is healthy for people and the planet. On the list are some albacore tuna caught in the U.S. or British Columbia, wild-caught salmon from Alaska and pink shrimp from Oregon, among others.
"Every bite you take is like a vote ... a statement of values," says Brown, of Food Network fame. "I value healthy oceans, oceans that have cared well for mankind through the ages. It's high time we took better care of our seas and the bounty they produce."
The chefs are committing not to serve fish from the aquarium's "avoid" list -- rated by scientists as destructive to the oceans.
Other chefs include Rick Bayless of Topolobampo in Chicago, Susan Spicer of Bayona in New Orleans, and Michel Nischan of the Dressing Room in Westport, Conn. In addition to the chefs, the aquarium noted that food companies are also making changes. Compass Group and Aramark, the two largest food services companies in North America, have partnered with the aquarium to shift to sustainable seafood sources. The report cites the efforts of other companies, including a commitment Wal-Mart made in 2006 to, within five years, source all its wild-caught seafood from fisheries certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, which was established by the World Wildlife Fund and Unilever.
The aquarium's report says that prospects for the oceans are improving with a growing consensus to manage wild and farm fishing. But it also sets out significant problems that remain for the oceans and cites the human demand for seafood as the primary factor in the oceans' decline.
The report says that the world seafood supply was 110 million tons in 2006 -- eight times what it was in 1950, with Asia accounting for more than half the global catch. And in the next year, it says, people will eat more farmed seafood than wild for the first time.
This year is the 25th anniversary of the aquarium and the 10th anniversary of its Seafood Watch program, which advised people on what fish to buy and to avoid for their health and that of the oceans. The aquarium says it has distributed 32 million Seafood Watch pocket brochures.
-- Mary MacVean
Photo: Monterey Bay Aquarium