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Including keystone species, like sardines, in our diet would result in ingesting less heavy metals and a reduction in the overfishing of a larger fish species, like tuna and swordfish. Over 40% of the protein fished from the world’s oceans are keystone species. They are used to feed pigs and chickens (and even farmed fish). By shifting our eating habits, we can turn these fish into a healthier protein source.

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Eating Down the Food Chain

Eating Down the Food Chain

Photo by Douglas Gayeton

Eating Down the Food Chain

Location: Monterey Fish Market Pier 33, San Francisco, California
Featuring: Alejandro (the Descaler), Russell Moore (the Chef), and Paul Johnson (the Fishmonger)

Did you know over 40% of protein fished from the world’s oceans are keystone species? This protein source feeds pigs and chickens and even other farmed fish.

Interestingly, it takes 30 lbs of keystone species to make 1 lb of tuna. By shifting our eating habits we can turn these fish into a healthier protein source.

Fish atop the food chain, like tuna, swordfish, and sharks, are bio-accumulators. Thus, they may have high levels of heavy metals like mercury in their systems. Including keystone species, like sardines, squid, and herring, in our diet would result in ingesting less heavy metals and a reduction in the overfishing of a larger fish species. However, the “food chain” is actually less a linear set of connections with apex predators (like swordfish) at the top and algae at the bottom, then a marine food web featuring a myriad number of complex interdependencies based on the conversion of sunlight into protein.

RUSSELL MOORE’S RECIPE FOR GRILLED SARDINES WITH CHILES AND HERB SALAD:
1) Begin by first gutting and scaling the fish (removing the head right behind the gills); 2) Rinse quickly and pat dry; 3) Brush the sardines with olive oil and season inside and out with sea salt; 4) Grill over medium hot coals on sides until crispy brown. Do not over cook!
FOR SAUCE:
1) Grind whole chihaucle, espellette or guagillo chiles (splash boiling water over chiles to soften); 2) Pound garlic with mortar and pestle and add to chiles with a pinch of salt, a squeeze of lime and good olive oil.
Serve with half a lime and an herb salad.

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