Trader Joe’s flunks sustainable seafood 101

Trader Joes F in Seafood photo
Fish in a bag at TJ’s – convenient but not all that green. Photo inuyaki.com via flickr.

C’mon, you know a Trader Joe’s addict or two, don’t you? It’s sometimes impossible to resist the combination of lower prices and lots of organic and even Fair Trade basics. But when you are planning to put fish on the menu, TJ’s is not the place to shop, according to an update of the Supermarket Seafood Scorecard released by Greenpeace. Trader Joe’s has done nothing to improve its “F” score for seafood purchasing policies and is number 17 of 20, near the bottom of the list, when it comes to finding “good” fish to sell. In fact, supermarkets in general are draining the oceans of fish stocks, Greenpeace claims – and the UN agrees 75 to 80 percent of wild fish stocks are overfished. What to do? Search for the sustainable alternatives or just call the FishPhone.

Pescatore’s dilemma
Just to be clear, none of the 20 stores Greenpeace is following get a green or top score (not even Whole Foods, though it gets the #3 spot, dropping down from #1 last year), but some are improving. How they improved, basically, is by stopping their buying and selling of fish that are on Greenpeace’s Red List. So if a store sells Atlantic Halibut, different types of tuna, Chilean Sea Bass or Orange Roughy, you can bet they don’t score too high with Greenpeace. Desisting from sales of these fish move a retailer up the list, as does labeling sustainable choices for customers, and putting in place a sustainable purchasing policy.

What to eat?
The easiest way to find out which supermarkets in your area did the best is to go to Greenpeace’s interactive list, which state-by-state shows how the big fish retailers do. Otherwise, you can always ask if you shop at much smaller venues or a fish stand. And then there’s the easy and cool FishPhone, which will message you about your choice on the spot. If none of these work, generally you can count on Marine Stewardship Council-labeled fish. Here’s a great TH forum that talks about fish you can eat with a clear eco-conscience.

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