Oceans of Opportunity

chicken of the sea

'A New Life in the Sea' by Michael Lombardi An odd topic, but I feel compelled to chat about chicken. It seems I’ve eaten more chicken recently than I usually do, and for reasons unbeknown, chicken seems to be at every corner turned.

A recent visit to South Carolina hammered this observation home – with fried chicken restaurants at literally every street corner…chicken and biscuits, chicken fried chicken, barbecue chicken, chicken-chicken-chicken. We are clearly hugely dependent on this avian protein source.

Just how dependent? Consider this fact from the National Chicken Council: More than 1.25 billion wings will be consumed during (the 2012) Super Bowl weekend (100 million pounds!), and, if they were laid end-to-end they would circle the circumference of the Earth – more than twice – a distance that would reach approximately a quarter of the way to the moon.

That’s just one day – when some 500 million + birds sacrificed their wings. Never mind the fact that eggs are in nearly every baked good that we indulge in.

The chicken business is a huge one – but are there any alternatives? What if we lost our chickens? Would our ducks be in a  row? The answer is doubtful.

Now of course I can’t lose sight of the fact that this is a Blog about all things aquatic, so one might ask, “what about the ‘chicken of the sea'”?

Tuna, specifically the white albacore, has been dubbed the ‘chicken of the sea’ given its white meat that has a mild taste, somewhat resembling well, chicken. While tuna, and seafood more broadly, is a staple in Eastern nations, we Americans still go for our chicken nuggets. Reasons are several-fold, be it an acquired taste, cultural evolutions, or simply accessibility from a commercial and consumer perspective. I just don’t see KFC standing for Kentucky Fried Catfish any time soon – chicken is here to stay.

Can we look to the sea for a sustainable protein commodity? It remains difficult. Aquaculture of various marine organisms and algae is still only at its infancy, and largely because of the significant upkeep required for all systems and structures operating in, near, or with saltwater. Should we be able to work around the technical limitations, we are left with the everlasting perception that we are charting uncharted territory for the masses. Chicken is tangible and front and center, tuna is not.

What will the future bring? To be frank, I may take another stretch at veganism after researching the plight of our avian and aquatic friends.

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