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The Washington Post has an interesting story about an effort by some chefs and foodservice experts to educate consumers that fish frozen at sea often is fresher than fresh fish bought at the supermarket – and to explain that not only is this fish fresher, but it also can have a positive impact on the environment.

The notion is keyed to the fact that for fresh fish to be sold in-store, it has to be sent via jet plane…which is both expensive and not good for the environment. But if frozen at sea, the fish can then be sent by train or truck, which has comparatively less impact on the environment because it contributes less to global warming.

"What we need is more trains," says Alton Brown, of the Food Network. "There needs to be a fish train.”

According to the Post story, “Transporting what we eat accounts for 80 percent of the U.S. food system's greenhouse gas emissions, according to scientific studies, and the average American's eating habits account for 2.8 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year, compared with the 2.2 tons of carbon dioxide the same person generates by driving.

“Traditionally, frozen-at-sea products have served the commodity market. Producers who operate floating factories have caught, processed and frozen such species as Pollock to make fish sticks and other inexpensive items. But with technological advances, high-end frozen products, either processed on a boat or frozen on the dock within a few hours of being caught, are making their way onto menus at white-tablecloth restaurants, where fresh fish usually occupies a place of honor.”

KC's View:
Not only does frozen fish have less of an environmental impact, but I once had a chef tell me that when he makes shrimp dishes at home, he tends to use Trader Joe’s frozen shrimp…because it is cheap, can stay in the freeze for long periods of time and be readily available, and tastes as good as fresh shrimp when mixed into a dish.

Sounds like a win-win to me. And since he told me that, I’ve always kept at least a couple of bags of frozen shrimp in the freezer…because you never know when you’re going to need to make a risotto or a cioppino.

And go figure – all these years, I’ve been behaving in a sustainably responsible way. I love it when it all comes together.