- Issue: Winter 2017
Sushi originated in Japan thousands of years ago, presumably as a way to preserve fish in fermented rice. Now it’s a global gastronomic mainstay. But our appetite for these seaweed-wrapped morsels isn’t without environmental costs. So before you grab the wasabi, get the raw facts.
In 2014, sales of Hass avocados, representing more than 95% of American avocado consumption, skyrocketed to a record 4.25 billion fruits. That’s nearly four times as many as were sold in 2000. But growing sales have a high cost for freshwater: It takes about 90 gallons of water to produce just a single California-grown avocado.
RICE, RICE BABY
Half the world’s population depends on rice for food and/or income. But while rice paddies often provide good habitat for birds, they can take a heavy toll on freshwater resources. In India, Laos, and other countries, WWF supports an eco-friendly rice farming technique called the System of Rice Intensification, or SRI, that reduces water use by about 30% while increasing crop yields and farm incomes.
GOING, GOING, GONE?
The average Pacific bluefin tuna can grow to more than 1,500 pounds and yield 10,000 pieces of sushi or sashimi. But decades of overfishing and rising demand—driven especially by sushi lovers in Japan—have pushed the Pacific bluefin to the brink. Scientists estimate its current population at just 2.6% of its historic size, with fishing levels three times higher than what is sustainable.