Archive for June, 2010

Photo by Kenji Aoki for The New York Times

In the cover story from last week’s New York Times Magazine, Paul Greenberg writes about the end of Bluefin Tuna (Tuna’s End, 6/21/10).  It’s not a new story, this one about the pace of our consumption overtaking the reproductive capacities of some organism with the unfortunate genetic gift of tasting good.  (For other examples of general disregard of future ecological balance, see also: Cod, The Lorax, The Song of the Dodo, Collapse, etc.)  The selective pressures have changed.  The very features that helped this fish to survive over thousands of years (blood and muscle chemistry, size, shape, metabolism), are some of the same traits that contribute to what we find desirable (texture, protein and fat content, taste), and have subsequently led to its demise.

It used to be that the vastness of the Earth’s oceans provided sanctuary for large fish and cetaceans.  As the technologies of travel and communication have flattened the world, so have the advances of the world’s commercial fishing fleets shrunk the oceans.  There’s no place left to hide.  As Greenberg points out clearly and persuasively, those advances, along with the lack of regulations on the high seas — “[the fish] remain under the foggy international jurisdiction of poorly enforced tuna treaties” — have combined to wipe out the Bluefin Tuna.  It’s not over yet, but a healthy school of bluefin are no match for a fleet of purse seiners (or oil spills in their spawning grounds, for that matter), and the end is definitely in sight.

The bottom line is this: the status quo will result in extinction.

So is there any hope?  Greenberg points to a few options.  First, a worldwide moratorium on the Bluefin Tuna fishery could help the populations to recover.  This is unlikely, however, because of the demand for sushi and the lobbying clout that those millions of dollars carry along with them.  It’s also possible that a moratorium would be ignored anyway.  The second option is to replace the demand for Bluefin sushi with a farmed fish comparable in taste, texture, fat content, etc.  This might alleviate some pressure on wild populations — although feed conversion ratios for raising carnivorous fish are never great, some are better than others.  Greenberg mentions an aquaculture operation in Hawaii called Kona Blue Water Farms that is raising kahala (dubbed Kona Kampachi), and the closed-life-cycle system of raising Pacific bluefin, or Kindai Tuna in Japan.  Both are probably worth pursuing.

And then, there’s always someone at the TED conference with some ideas.  I leave you with Dan Barber’s talk from TED 2010: How I Fell In Love With a Fish. Maybe there is some hope after all.


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Summer Projects

It’s here.  The first day (not officially of the season I guess until Monday) of summer break.  End-of-year meetings wrapped up yesterday, and it was nice to not have to set an alarm this morning (even if the biological alarms of my children will keep us from sleeping in any time soon).  So here’s what I’ve got planned:

To do list:

– Write a summer reading list. I was very successful with last summer’s list, so we’ll see how the addition of another child impacts the amount of reading that gets done!  Last summer some colleagues and I put together a Google Doc book list club, which turns out to be a great way to share recommendations.  Individual conversations are also good, of course.

Read those books.

– Grow some more vegetables.  I‘ve got German Queen tomatoes, cucumbers, Ancho chiles, and zucchini started, plus basil, chives, parsley, rosemary, and thyme (no sage though).  Will probably add more tomatoes and some other things, depending on how much space I can carve out for raised beds or boxes.

– Compost.  (see item above.)

– Field Trips. Stamford Nature Center, the beach, cooking reconnaissance trips to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx (for pork and olives), trips to the grandparents to visit family, two weddings, and a weekend in Chicago to catch up with the wedding party for a buddy’s wedding in October (with a game at Wrigley in the bleachers!), and maybe to possibly find the best Italian Sub in Chicago

In August (or continuously on the back burner, in the best way), thoughts on making changes to, updating, and improving curriculum and school plans for September.

Slow cooking, in all of its incarnations. The slow, handmade, and local kind, but also brined, cured, pickled, aged, or smoked.  These food projects include several sausage recipes to try out, a fermented dry sausage/salami like a saucisson sec (the first round of dried salamis back in February was a huge success), and pickles.

Keep a little more current on the blog. This spring has been nuts.  And good.  Family and school definitely took priority, as they should.  But I’d like to continue to make connections in education through writing here, linking up with other educators, sharing ideas, and growing my PLN (Twitter Personal Learning Network).

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Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the learning revolution!
This talk came up a few weeks ago on the TED Blog, and it’s refreshing to hear Robinson’s take on education.  His talk is about doing what you love, finding and nurturing talents, and trying to construct an educational system that can do that for kids.  It’s tough to step off the treadmill because we’re ingrained.

We had Graduation here at school this morning, and have just a handful of meetings to go before summer break really starts.  I’m looking forward to reading (a future post), resting the brain in some ways, stretching it in others, and spending time with the family. 

Enjoy the TED talk.

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