The Hump, a sushi restaurant in Santa Monica, has been served a search warrant and federal authorities have raided the restaurant for suspicion of serving illegal marine mammals and documents related to the purchase and sale of the same.
The bust was a joint effort between law enforcement and the same crew that won the Academy Award for their documentary, The Cove, about the illegal hunting of dolphins in Japan.
Here, in no particular order, are my thoughts on the subject:
My blog-friend Houston Foodie has a post up today in which he discusses eating octopus. He’s written before about eating pig snout and pig tail. Not to use him as the poster boy for exotic eating but those are pretty far out. On the other extreme, there are people, New York Times readers, who eat squirrel. Venison icks me out. So does hare. I do like sushi, but even there I’m a timid eater. So my question is: what’s the big deal? Whale might not be something that makes my tummy growl, but who cares? Living things are food.
The whale – I can’t find the species of the whale – is endangered, and thus the marketing of it is illegal.
Many things are illegal for reasons other than being endangered. Horse, for instance, is illegal in American restaurants. Chimp would probably not be welcomed. But does eating a plate of whale contribute to the decline in whale populations? Eskimos have eaten whale for centuries. Are we to believe they are responsible for the decline in whales?
Why can we eat a hamburger but whale is bad? A vegan probably would condemn the eating of a whale, at least on the grounds that it’s endangered. But a pig is not endangered; so is the eating of a pig morally better than eating a whale? How do vegans decide this?
America: World Police
Makers of the documentary, The Cove, about the illegal hunting of dolphins, may have caused more controversy and more harm in the making of their movie than they’d intended. It turns out that the Japanese were indifferent to the dolphin hunting because, well, they’re indifferent. By bringing the issue to light, some Japanese are a little ticked off that Americans are attempting to exert our American values on an ancient Japanese culture. Japanese regularly eat whale and shark, and while I am not a fan of those practices, demanding they stop because they’re offending my American sense of propriety seems a weak argument. I would be happier if I had a more compelling reason to force them to stop.
America: World Police 2
Concern over marine animals for food is traditionally a liberal agenda item. I find myself on the opposite side of them for the very reasons they espouse about our foreign policy: we have no right to enforce our point of view on them. They aren’t committing terrorism or bombing our harbors (anymore) and so, hands off.
Food as Food
I am becoming almost inconveniently picky about the things I choose to eat. It has to be fresh. Has to be as close to the original form as possible. Must be nutritious. Can not contain growth hormones. I’m starting to phase all meat out of my diet, not because I feel bad for the animals, but because I’m not convinced that meat is the best nutritional value. The exception is fish. The Omega-3s and fats in salmon is great, and it’s a low-calorie, easy to find fish. Even better is raw tuna. Salad Nicoise is one of my favorite meals, when I can find very fresh tuna. So I won’t be giving those up, but I’m increasingly concerned about all the stuff in my food supply. Not “our” food supply. I don’t care about your food supply. You can eat whatever you want – whale or octopus or baboon. But I find that the more control I take over what powers my body, the better I feel.
With any luck, the truth about the restaurant’s menu will come to light and consumers can decide if they want to eat whale or more exotic items. If they skirt the law and get caught, that’s on them. Likewise if the consumer skirts the law by eating it, and then gets sick, that’s also on them.
Personally, after a killer whale killed a trainer at Sea World last week, I find this a nice balance. Circle of life. You kill one of us, whales, we kill four of you. That’s how we roll.