Wednesday, October 23, 2013

'Tasteless' Is A Fitting Word

Shark fin soup, popular chiefly in China as well as Taiwan and Hong Kong, has got to be the most controversial meal on the planet, and for good reason. It's not so much what it tastes like as how you get it. Namely, you yank a shark out of the sea, slice its fin off, and either dump the rest of the shark back in the water to die or use it as bait to go catch more sharks. Not only is it cruel to the shark, not only does it drastically reduce shark populations, it's also outrageously wasteful.

It sure as hell isn't about the taste. Those who have actually eaten shark fin soup, such as Gordon Ramsay- who did so in the course of making a documentary about the practice- tend to find it actually tasteless, as in, not tasting of anything at all. In fact, Ramsay found the fin to be a detriment to the rest of the soup, which he noted could have been flavored with anything, anything at all, and been just fine. It's purely a prestige thing, something to brag about to others rather than to actually enjoy on its merits. You had a better meal last time you ordered out for pizza.

Gordon's bowl of soup cost $145.

His full report from 2011, 'Shark Bait', is below. If you don't yet know anything about shark finning, this is a good place to get caught up to speed if you don't mind being put off your lunch.

For those of you who are familiar with shark finning, there's an update to the story. It seems that sharks aren't providing sufficient amounts of bait... so the shark finners have graduated to hunting dolphins for the purpose off the coast of Peru. An investigation has revealed that some 15,000 dolphins are killed off of Peru's coast in order to provide shark bait; that number doesn't include the 3,000 additional dolphins killed for straight human consumption in Peru. Neither of these is acceptable under Peruvian law, which banned dolphin killing in 1997. This is saying nothing of what may be happening off the coast of other nations. This is only counting Peru. The impact on the aquatic ecology should be rather obvious.

Which makes this one highly-valued aquatic creature being slaughtered so that another highly-valued aquatic creature may be more efficiently slaughtered so that complete tools with more money than sense can ruin a perfectly good soup. And you are paying more for fish in general, due to depleting fish stocks, partially so this can take place.

Kids, sorry in advance about the uninhabitable windswept hellscape we're leaving you. At least someone ate something that tasted like nothing. Totally worth it.

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