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I recently had sushi in Little Tokyo with a
longtime friend frenemy person I know, who was in LA from NY for one night. After a few tantalizing rounds of chef’s choice, we started to gaze at the specials. Aloud, pained, I lamented the listing for toro sashimi–which I love almost as much as football–on the board, having not ordered the fatty belly of the endangered bluefin for almost two years. We quickly, maybe even passionately chatted about the awful projections that the world stands to be bluefin-free by the next U.S. presidential election.
She sighed. And then brightly ordered the toro.
I tried not to judge. I tried not to preach. It’s not my duty. I merely looked at her quizzically.
“Jesus, Diana, it’s not like I invented toro or anything,” she huffed. And I actually haven’t heard from her since that night.
But that moment has stuck with me. I find myself wondering why it’s so easy to dismiss the peril of the bluefin, to literally mouth the words “endangered” while allowing that endangered flesh to cross one’s lips (with some tart rice and a little bit of salt). I’m not angry at my friend–she’s certainly not alone. I just wonder.
Is it because bluefin are *just* fish? They’re cold, slick, emotionless–not cute, cuddly, loving, furry, and adorable. And although it’s a bummer to most when species are endangered and all… at the end of the day, we can’t really be expected to modify our behavior, nor bothered to deny our tastebuds and cravings, for a bunch of cold, dead fish. They’re just fish, right? Like the saying goes, there are plenty of fish in the sea. At least for the next fifty years.
It’s not like bluefin are pandas or anything. Then–THEN we’d have all the right conservation slogans, tees, and–er, sexy costumes. Pandas are endangered CUTE animals that we can all (save for a few dissenters) get behind. We dare not imagine a bunch of dead pandas on wooden pallets. It would hurt t0o much.
But in fact, that’s exactly what the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society wants you to do. They just launched this new campaign: “When you see tuna, think Panda.”
Filed under: Bluefin Tuna, Dead Panda Ads, Effective Ads, Endangered Bluefin, Endangered Species, Fish, Northern Bluefin Tuna, Operation Blue Rage, Pandas, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Sushi, Toro
Pandas are sickeningly cute. But they’re also dumb as fuck. They survive almost entirely on bamboo, which poses all kinds of problems; they frequently kill their young by accident or neglect; and they seem to have something against sex and reproducing more sickeningly-cute-but-dumb-as-fuck panda spawn.
Researchers at the famed Hetaoping Research and Conservation Centre in Sichuan Province, China, have been working their asses off to keep these adorable dummies from disappearing off the face of the planet, and one of their innovations is dressing themselves up in panda suits when it comes time to introduce the real pandas into the wild. To, presumably, get those pandas raised in captivity used to being around other pandas, or something like that?
No idea if it’ll work–the last panda the Hetaoping researchers introduced into the wild, Continue reading AMAZIAN OF THE WEEK! The People In The Panda Suits
Filed under: Adorable, Awwwwwww, baby pandas, Bear Hugs, China, Dumb Animals, Endangered Species, FUZZY TUMMY FEELINGS, Giant Pandas, Hetaoping Research and Conservation Centre, Into the Wild, Panda Hugs, Panda People, Panda Suits, Pandas, Pandas Are Dumb As Fuck But We Love Them Anyway, Pandas Are Sickeningly Cute, People in Panda Suits
Last night, I had a dream that I was sitting at a sushi bar, watching the chef work with his knife before me. He sliced two slim pieces of soft, red flesh and placed them gently on balls of warm sushi rice. He leaned over the bar and laid the two sushi pieces on the wooden platform in my reach, an inch away from a small pat of wasabi and wet pile of dusty-pink pickled ginger.
“This is whale,” he said, looking me in the eye. “No soy sauce.”
Taken aback, I said, “No. Thank you, no whale please.”
“Whale,” he said, now stern. “You eat it. Chef’s special Omakase.” He tightened the grip on his Shun knife.
“No. I can’t. I can’t,” I whimpered, overwhelmed suddenly by fear.
“EAT IT,” he said. And suddenly we were no longer at a sushi bar but in a cavernous black room, with him pinning me against a chair while shoving large, bloody pieces of whale meat into my mouth. “EEEEEEAT IIIIIT!”
The nightmare, of course, stemmed from a week of reading about the recent bust of Santa Monica sushi resto The Hump, an eatery known for serving exotic sushi. The place was busted after two undercover females with a lipstick camera ordered the $600 Omakase menu and requested whale, then were awarded eight pieces. They pocketed samples of the meat and later had them analyzed, identifying the meat as that from the endangered sei whale.
LAT describes the resulting charge:
Named in the complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, were Typhoon Restaurant Inc., owner of the Hump, and chef Kiyoshiro Yamamoto, 45, of Culver City.
Filed under: Busts, Charges, Endangered Species, Illegal Sale of Marine Mammal Products, Illegally Selling Whale Meat, Kiyoshiro Yamamoto, Los Angeles, Ocean Brethren, Omakase, Santa Monica, Sei Whale, Sushi, Sushi Chef, The Hump, This is Bullshit, Typhoon Restaurant Inc., Whale Meat, White Mercedes, WTF?
HAPPY NEW YEAR, DISGRASIAN NATION!
It’s the Year of the Tiger, the motto of which is “I Win.” The sign is considered one of bravery, thought to scare away all of those things you’d read about in an Amy Tan novel, like fire, thieves, and ghosts. Also, the tiger is one sexy beast, way more appealing than 2009′s fat lumbering ox. Sounds pretty auspicious, right?
Maybe too auspicious to be true. Because while the Year of the Tiger may look awesome on the surface, it could wind up being, to quote the movie Clueless (RIP Brit Murphy), a full-on Monet–okay from far away, but close-up, a “big ol’ mess.” Here are reasons not to go rawr!:
Filed under: Chinese New Year, Chinese Zodiac, Endangered Species, Full of Win, Lunar New Year, Tibet, Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods Marriage, Tiger Woods Sex Scandals, Year of the Tiger, Year of the Tiger Bad for Marriage
Nobu Matsuhisa has done some remarkable things in the culinary world. He somehow convinced Americans to not only eat raw fish but to pay a pretty penny for it. Then he went on to make sushi an international cuisine; today, there are 24 Nobu restaurants around the world. In an interview I once did with him, I learned that he single-handedly introduced jalapeno farming to Japan because one of his signature dishes, the yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno, had become such a hit there. He has, needless to say, had a staggering global impact.
Nobu has the chance to change the way we eat once again, this time by taking Northern bluefin tuna, a critically endangered species of fish whose breeding stock the World Wildlife Federation estimates will be extinct by 2012, off his menus. Britain, France, and Monaco recently announced that they’ll support an international ban on the sale of Northern bluefin tuna. Yet the Nobu restaurant group, despite pressure from celebrities and from environmental groups, refuses to do this. The only concession they’ve made in this matter is to label bluefin tuna “environmentally threatened” on the Nobu London menu; none of the other Nobu restaurant menus carry such a warning (which woefully undersells the problem, anyway).
We’ll be the first to admit that we love us some bluefin tuna, especially the toro, or fatty belly, cut. We could eat it until we became human thermometers. But this fish is facing extinction. As a culinary innovator, Nobu could set a powerful example by removing Northern bluefin off his menus. There are, as the saying goes, so many other fish in the sea. And Nobu doesn’t just cater to tastes, he creates them. Once upon a time, fine diners used to think that raw fish was disgusting and slimy, yellowtail coupled with jalapeno and cilantro incompatible, and uni, or sea urchin, about as appetizing as baby poo, and now, we’ll pay $20 a plate for that shit. People adapt. The overfished Northern bluefin cannot, however, unless people like Nobu help lead the way.
Or, you’re like us, and your heart goes aflutter every time you lay your eyes on these smart, peaceful, cuddly herbivores. And you wince every time you hear about their endangerment and hope that they’ll never, ever, ever be extinct.
In which case, you’ll be happy to know that scientists from China, Britain, Canada, the United States and Hong Kong have finally finished sequencing the panda genome. Which allows us to understand more than we ever have about the panda’s habits, lifestyle, and needs to survive. Which makes the idea of a panda extinction even less of a imminent reality!
And we also think it spells out a future that includes: a panda for Jen, a panda for me, and a panda for each person that signs up for the DISGRASIAN RSS feed.
Filed under: DISGRASIAN Subscriptions Rule, Endangered Species, Genome Sequences, Hooraysian, Learning More, One Step Away From Extinction, Pandas Are Sickeningly Cute, Pandas for Everyone, Research Breakthroughs
LIES! MORE LIES!
Reuters reports that a Romanian zoo has finally announced the birth of two Siberian tigers, Lenuta and Costel. Siberian tigers are among the world’s most endangered species, their population scarily reduced by poaching and loss of habitat in their native homes of Northern Russia, China, and North Korea, so think good thoughts for these little guys!!!!
The rare Sumatran Rhino was captured on film for the first time ever on Borneo island, Malaysia. It’s so adorable, I want to eat it, though it is one of the most endangered animals in the world.
Click here for full story.