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February 2019    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 45, No. 2   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Diver Scallops? Give Me a Break

from the February, 2019 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

According to New York's Attorney General, Letitia James, when someone in her state buys premium- priced fish that fetches between $19 and $29 per pound -- like grouper, cod, halibut, striped bass, and white tuna -- inferior varieties farmed in foreign countries with little or no regulatory oversight are substituted by the retailer, who pays as little as $3 per pound, 43 percent of the time. James' team bought and tested samples from 155 New York locations and found that farmed salmon samples were sold as "wild" 27 percent of the time, and 67 percent of red snapper fillets were mislabeled.

For white-fleshed fish, supermarkets and grocery stores are jerking their customers around, usually substituting Asian catfish varieties called swai, panga and basa, says Robert DeMasco, owner of Pierless Fish in Brooklyn. "On menus, people like descriptions. I think it's the romance, the story in their head -- 'line-caught' this, 'day boat' that.' 'Diver scallops' is a big one. People love a diver in a wetsuit getting their scallops for them. There are some, sure. But how many menus in this city, this country, have a 'diver scallops' on them? There aren't that many divers. No. Scallops are dredged. 'Dredged?' Dredged is not a sexy word."

-- Manny Howard, Salon

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