Walter Mencken 11:31 a.m., Feb. 1
Do I dare to eat a — perch?
A gang of daring eco-minded scientists bearing swords, rapiers, and -- well,,actually, scalpels and DNA kits -- has discovered that the fish we're eating is not always the fish we think we're buying.
In retail fish cases, as well as in restaurants, they found that precious endangered species (e.g., shark, Chilean sea-bass) were sometimes marketed as lesser species to get around federal regulations, while trailer trash species like farm-raised tilapia and Thai farmed shrimp were often passing for their betters. It was even worse, much worse, when it came to fish already cut into fillets, or worse yet, fish sold in supermarkets as ready-to-cook fillets with a ready-made sauce. These were "who the heck knows what they are?" species.
The good news: It's getting easier and easier to do DNA tests to discover the actual species of fish in the markets. In a few years, they'll be able to routinely tag 'em with their species. The government is getting really into it. Hey, tilapia actually tastes okay -- if you're not expecteing grouper!