5 fish got different names, and now they're so expensive it hurts.

A dark side of winning the seafood version of a popularity contest? A human feeding frenzy.

What's in a name?

For fish, the stakes of a name are quite high. With a new name, a fish that was once never even considered edible by society becomes THE fish to eat.


Sure it's delicious ... but what's its NAME? Image via Evan Blaser/Flickr.

Renamed fish can get more expensive and wind up becoming endangered faster.

Take ... lobster, for example!

Even lobster has been a victim of rebranding.

Image by Claude Covo-Farchi/Wikimedia Commons.

Lobster used to be considered a food for, well, people down on their luck — prisoners, servants, and the like — because they were so plentiful. But around the 19th century, American tourists started traveling to lobster country in New England in search of authenticity, a rustic living experience, and local dishes, and the crustaceans started to be seen as more of a delicacy.

Fast forward to lobster being overfished so much that its prices actually skyrocketed.

Rebranding helps to sell fish, but it winds up shifting things really far out of balance.

Turns out this rebranding and renaming is nothing new. Many fish have been renamed out of their hilariously gross names and gross reputations, leading to high demand, high cost, and high negative human impact.

When deep sea fishing companies see piles and piles of money in their future, many of the fishing boats that get into the game are funded illegally — and because the high seas has a problem with law enforcement, illegal fishing is not only profitable, it's feasible.

And because these fishing boats are working largely outside the law, there's a much higher occurrence of human rights and labor abuses on illegal fishing boats. Unsustainably fished seafood, especially in the case of deep sea fishing, has a real human impact.

So in the interest of wisdom, here's a short list of rebranded fish that marketers are schooling you on:

1. Toothfish (aka "Chilean sea bass")

Chilean sea bass are a perfect example of this rebranding problem.

Yum. Image via Pcziko/Wikimedia Commons.

They were once known as the toothfish: ugly, oily, bottom dwelling, frozen in the Antarctic water, toothy fish.

But great with a miso marinade, apparently! Image via Foobaz/Wikimedia Commons.

At the beginning of their meteoric rise to unsustainable populations, Chilean sea bass were $8 per pound. Now? Good luck finding them for under $25.

Even though Chilean sea bass are no longer considered "endangered" or "threatened," they're still "at risk for overfishing."

2. Whore's eggs (aka "Maine sea urchins")

Yikes, North Atlantic fisherman! Harsh words!

Image via Hannah K R/Wikimedia Commons.

That ball of green spines used to be called that interestingly colorful name above by Maine lobstermen. Renamed "Maine sea urchins," it found new life in sushi restaurants under the Japanese name "uni"!

According to the New York Times, "an ambitious diver [for Maine sea urchins] can earn as much as $2,500 a week harvesting sea urchins, depending on the diver and the catch."

3. Mud crabs (aka "peekytoe crab")


These guys are also known as rock crabs or sand crabs. Tasty! Image via Pseudopanax/Wikimedia Commons.

As a New York Times report mentions, the peekytoe crab is seeing a price jump since it went from trash to treasure with a rebrand.

" This little crab is so beloved at Restaurant Daniel, Jean Georges, the French Laundry, Spago and other famous eating establishments that the chefs pay $12 to $14 a pound for something that has long been routinely discarded."


4. Goosefish (aka "monkfish")



Image via NOAA's Fisheries Collection/Wikimedia Commons

According to a report from the Washington Post, harvests of this fish increased five-fold (five!) from the mid-1980s to the late-1990s after rebranding.

5. Slimehead (aka orange roughy)

Image via Mark Lewis, CSIRO/Wikimedia Commons

And the roughy still has it pretty rough. It's still so at risk that some grocers, such as Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and Safeway, placed a ban on selling it.

With just a little more awareness and technology (like apps that let you search to make sure the fish you're eating isn't created by human suffering and contributing to a sad ocean), we can drive down the literal price of the fish and, particularly in the case of deep sea fish like the Patagonian Toothfish, we can drive down the HUMAN cost (aka human trafficking and labor problems).

It starts with awareness. It ends with a happier ocean, happier people, and a stronger world for generations to come.

Rah-rah!

Heroes

If you wonder why the LGBTQ community holds Pride parades, look no further than Grayson Fritts.

If you don't know who Grayson Fritts is, here's a brief intro:

He's a pastor. He's a police officer. And he is on video screaming from the pulpit that the government should kill gay people.

That's not an exaggeration.

In a video of a fist-pounding sermon at All Scripture Baptist church in Knoxville, Tennessee, Fritts said that police should round up people at Pride parades, put them through a quick trial, and then put them to death.

"The Bible says the powers that be are ordained of God," he said, "and God has instilled the power of civil government to send the police in 2019 out to these LGBT FREAKS and arrest them. Have a trial for them, and if they are convicted then they are to be put to death…do you understand that? It's a capital crime to be carried out by our government. Not Christians...unless you're a policeman. Know what I mean? If you're a policeman it should be your responsibility to carry these things out."

Just FYI, this man was named "Detective of the Month" in 2017. Let that sink in for a hot second.

"Pride parades?" he continued. "Hey, call the riot teams. We got a bunch of 'em, Get the patty wagon out here, we got a bunch of 'em going to jail, we got a bunch of them that we're gonna get convicted because they've got their pride junk on and they're professing what they are, that they're a filthy animal. After this onslaught, where the government's arresting them and carrying out God's laws and they're all dead…"

And that's only part of it. You can watch five minutes of the sermon here, though I don't actually recommend it.


P.S. The church's website states that the church is "a family integrated church, meaning children of all ages are welcome in our services." So presumably, this extremist, violent hate speech was being delivered to children as well as adults. Lovely.

Grayson Fritts and his church planned a meeting for June 29 at a Cracker Barrel in Cleveland, Tennessee. The restaurant said, "Nope."

The church website lists a "Small Town Soul Winning" event for June 29 in Cleveland, Tennessee, about 80 miles southwest of Knoxville. Presumably, that's why Fritts and members of his church were planning an event at the local Cracker Barrel in town.

But according to Knox News, Cracker Barrel has turned away Fritts and his gang, citing the chain's zero-tolerance policy for "discriminatory treatment or harassment of any sort."

Cracker Barrel said it told the church it couldn't hold its event at their restaurant. "We disagree strongly with their statements of hate and divisiveness," the restaurant chain said in a statement. "We serve everyone who walks through our doors with genuine hospitality, not hate, and require all guests to do the same."

For the folks who would say, "But isn't that just Cracker Barrel discriminating against Fritts for his religious beliefs?" No. If the restaurant had said he and his fellow "Christians" couldn't eat there because they were Christian, that would be religious discrimination. It is Fritts' discrimination, hate speech, and advocating of violence that violates the company's policy of service, not his stated religious affiliation.

Businesses have the right to refuse service to customers that pose a threat other customers. No doubt, LGBTQ people eat at Cracker Barrel. Would you feel safe in an enclosed space with a presumably armed man who believes—and tries to convince others—that you should be put to death?

In a capitalist society that values free speech, businesses taking a stand can be a powerful statement.

We can debate all day long about whether hate speech should be protected under the First Amendment, but as of now, it is. One could make the argument that Fritts was inciting violence with his speech—which would make such speech not protected—but the fact that he was advocating for the government to do the violence and not for citizens to take it upon themselves may legally shield him from that argument.

I know that seems weird, but such are the realities of free speech.

However, the First Amendment only protects us from the government squashing our freedom of expression. It does not mean that a business or private entity can't decide that someone's speech is too heinous to allow in their space. Speech is not protected from other people calling you out on what you say. It's not protected from businesses or institutions deciding you're too much of an a-hole to do business with.

No one needs to be tolerant of dehumanization. No one needs to be tolerant of someone calling for innocent people's deaths because of who they are attracted to. No one should stand for that, ever.

Good for Cracker Barrel for making it clear that there is no place for such hatred at their tables.

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