To Eat, or Not to Eat...That is the Cultural Question

To Eat, or Not to Eat...That is the Cultural Question

This afternoon I was talking with a friend who just returned from a Caribbean cruise and it came up that she didn’t swim in the ocean at any of the beaches while they were at port. When I asked her why not, she replied, “Because the ocean has scary stuff in it.  Ever since I saw one of those beware of jellyfish/sharp rocks/tides signs, I just decided that swimming in pools is more my style. However, I do really like seafood.” Personally, I’ve always been addicted to the water and I’m pretty much the “Never getting out of the water until I absolutely have to” sort (and I also love seafood).

So imagine my surprise when I was reading the news this afternoon and I saw something that would actually make me think twice before scampering off into the ocean. I still would, I’d just look around a little bit first to make sure that there weren’t any sharks the size of tractor trailers in the vicinity.  A FORTY foot shark? Shudder.

Opportunists seem to have taken this moment to speak out against the evils of Shark Fin Soup and overfishing in general, rather than having my reaction of “Holy crap that thing is huge!” and moving on. I’m not sure whether or not whale sharks are even among the species used for the soup and I’ve never actually had the soup myself. I’m sure I’d try it given the opportunity, because that’s just how I am. I like to try new things. Many of the new food experiences I’ve had generated when I was living in China. That part of my life has made me a little biased toward Asian customs and traditional beliefs in general. That being said, condemning an entire culture based on one of their traditional foods/customs/beliefs sits very wrong with me.

I agree, shark fins are not necessarily procured in the most admirable ways, but I don’t think the solution to that is denying people a part of their heritage. Efforts need to be made to educate, not dictate what any one person (or group of people) should be “allowed” to eat. Realistically, it’s going to happen no matter what, as the ocean is a very big place and it could never be patrolled in a manner that would stop anything like this from happening.  Change will be a slow process, no matter what PETA or any other environmental organization demands.

Why does it seem that various kinds of seafood are always the ones to be instigating these kinds of things? Would you still be willing to try shark fin soup given the chance?