Farmed Salmon

I had dinner with the Muse last night at a restaurant down the street; table cloths, big art.

She closed the menu. "I'll have the salmon."

I stopped breathing trying to remember the chapter from Bottomfeeder related to salmon. "Is it farmed?" I managed.

"It is," she said. "But it's organic."

I hid in the menu. "Where is it farmed?"

"I don't know."

I didn't lunge at her from across the table or pick up my purse and leave. Instead I reminded myself that I loved this person across from me and that she was not ecologically challenged. Her husband that evening was signing papers for solar panels to be installed on their house. I reminded myself that she cares about the environment. "I'll ask the waiter," I said.

His answer wasn't as bad as it could have been. It wasn't Chile. "British Columbia," he said in a hushed tone.

I bit my lip until he walked away.

The salmon farms in British Columbia are owned by Norwegian companies that have decimated the wild populations of salmon in Norway by salmon farming. They're now purchasing and setting up farming operations on the coasts of BC putting that wild stock at risk. Farmed salmon is treated with colorant to make it pink, it has sea lice, is fed antibiotics. It swims in cages thick with waste.

I apologized. "I can't help it," I repeated. "I'm sorry, but farmed salmon isn't even good for you."

At this point the Muse could have picked up her purse and left but instead she ordered pasta with morels. It was a lovely dish. I had a little gem lettuce salad with pumpkin seeds, a tomato soup with chick peas that was leagues better than it sounds.

She thanked me for the salmon information.

I took a drink of water and apologized again even though I knew she appreciated the information. Someone else would have been a different story.

What do you do when an ecological hot spot gets ignited? Do you go with the flow, let it go or do you speak up?


Hannah said...

I think this is one of the hardest questions in my main relationship--and it works both ways. Sometimes I genuinely appreciate the information my husband gives me, but often I feel ignorant, immoral, defensive. When I tell him things, he feels the same. When we talk about issues out of the heat of the moment (and without referring back to the heat of the moment), the conversations are usually enlightening and inspiring.

I'm glad you and your friend found each other. Sounds like she is both fantastically nondefensive and appreciative of what you can share with her!

Sam said...

I just let it go. I am still working on my social skills and I have a tendency to be inadvertently obnoxious.

A few weeks back I was able to tell friends about Horizons and their "organic" practices and I felt rotten about it because of the expression even though no one said anything.

Anonymous said...

Back in my old vegan days of yore, I had a tendency to be a bit (probably more than I know) holier then thou. I didn't mean to be, and I was certainly less so than many of those I worked with on a daily basis, but there it was. Terrible manners. Blame it on my youth and all that. But now, a decade later, I doubt I would say anything at all in the moment. Not even about veal. Sometime later I might bring it up in an unrelated conversation, but in the moment, no. Of course, as in The Purloined Letter's comments, but DH can be a bit defensive when his menu choice is questioned, so I don't like to push his buttons.

Green Bean said...

I probably do something along the lines of what you did. It is hard, once you have that information, to keep it bottled up, to not share it. You try to do it in an inoffensive way but you just can't not do it.

Melissa said...

I think for me it would depend. If it was one of my friends, I'd probably do what you did. If it was my husband's friends I wouldn't say anything most likely. I think it is a function of how comfortable I am with the person.

Anonymous said...

My friend is a (wild) salmon biologist and not shy about speaking her mind. Friends don't let friends eat farmed salmon, she says. She doesn't mince her words. We need more like both of you.

Me, I'm a wimp about speaking up.

Donna said...

For me, it matters who the person is. I only say something if I think they would honestly want to know, which means I don't speak up often. But I speak up to Andrew, and sometimes he repeats it later. :)

Kale for Sale said...

tpl - I love your comment because it flips the coin for me to look at how I best receive information and then ideally, in the oh so perfect world of which I rarely live, deliver information in a similar fashion.

And yes, the Muse has many great attributes, not the least of which is being fantastically nondefensive.

beany - I work to have my obnoxiousness be inadvertent but damned if it doesn't have a mind of its own and is advertent as hell anyway.

So sorry you felt rotten for exposing non-organic organic practices. It's always worse when no one says anything. It would almost be better if they said, I don't care or I don't know what to do with the information. Anything other than the silence. And I know I've been the person sitting in silence thinking, I don't want to know this information.

anonymous - My poor family gets my holier than thou attitude. Bless them. They are teaching me tolerance.

And yes, it is tough to get between hungry people and their food. Especially when there are sharp utensils on the table.

green bean - It's that inoffensive way that I keep stewing on. I want a no fail recipe for it. A cup more humor and doubling the amount of patience would likely help.

melissa - Great point. There are people I would never say anything to too and other people where I could say something but would let it go anyway.

Audrey - That would be a great bumper sticker. I should have one and show it to any potential dinner partner. Or invite them to see my bumper if they close the menu and say, salmon, please. Then I could stuff them in the trunk until they promised to never eat farmed salmon again! It's not exactly subtle but it would be using my humor.

And the fact that you have a blog that tackles local food, I'm afraid disqualifies you as being a wimp. You are speaking up.

donna - LOL! That the best. I need a three year old.

Theresa said...

Whew, this is a tough one for me. I will sometimes say something if the moment seems right and the person seems receptive. Sometimes I bite my tongue though, if I've brought up the point before with that person, or if I myself am too angry or frustrated to have it come out anything other than holier than thou or maybe even maniacal.

Lately, say in the last six months or so, I've been trying to say a few more things to more people, partly because these things are coming out in the mainstream media now, and partly because I feel that we are so so pressed for time. There just isn't time to keep quiet anymore. When I think about how we are killing the earth, it makes me weep. I can see how so called 'treehuggers' got their name, because there are times when I do just want to hug a tree and say thanks for making my oxygen and sucking up my C02.

Thanks to you Kale for saying something to your friend. You obviously picked the right time and the right way to have the message be received as intended. :)

Going Crunchy said...

Amazing post, and I'm impressed at how well you handle yourself in those situations. Shannon