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Grocers Selling More Sustainable Seafood, Greenpeace Reports

By Anthony Todd in Food on May 7, 2012 7:45PM

Graphic from Carting Away the Oceans VI, by Greenpeace.
Four years ago, Greenpeace released its first report on sustainable seafood in grocery stores, "Carting Away the Oceans." The picture was pretty dismal - every grocer on the list got a failing grade. However, four years of activism, sustainable seafood education (and the popularity of green consumption) have made quite a difference. Carting Away The Oceans VI was released last week, and two grocery chains, including Whole Foods, have managed to get a "good" rating. Unfortunately, Jewel-Osco didn't fare so well.

Whole Foods and Safeway (owner of Dominicks) both got "good" ratings, the first chains ever to make it that high. They did this through a combination of sustainable sourcing, eliminating "red" species (more on that later) and dramatically improving their selection of sustainable canned tunal. Greenpeace called Whole Foods' improvement "nothing short of spectacular" and encouraged them to keep up the momentum. Safeway has partnered with FishWise and publicly committed to not sell fish caught in certain sensitive areas.

Unfortunately, Super-Valu (the parent company of Jewel) got the third-lowest score on the list, with a big red fail. They have made some progress lately, removing several red list species like Orange Roughy from their inventory, but entirely refuses to communicate with Greenpeace to be evaluated. In addition, the seafood in their stores isn't well labelled, so consumers have a difficult time making choices. Trader Joe's has made substantial progress since Greenpeace called them out in 2008, pledging to sell only sustainable seafood by the end of 2012. Read the complete report, with dossiers of each grocer, here.

As always, remember that your seafood choices matter. "Red" species are those that are most in danger of extinction and overfishing — even if you find them for sale, don't buy them. We are big fans of the Shedd Aquarium's Right Bite Wallet card, which you can print out here. If you're more high tech, there's even a free app.

CATO VI Scorecard