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Salmon or shark's fin: Are you sure you want to eat it? [Op-Art]


Is our appetite worth the ocean’s ecosystem? Between genetically modified salmon that could pollute the gene pool of wild-salmon fisheries, which the editorial board weighed in on last week, and Jonathan Gold’s Sunday Op-Ed about banning shark’s fin, it’s been a question that’s hard to ignore. Here’s Gold explaining his position:

As important as shark's fin is to traditional Cantonese banquet cuisine, we have reached the point where some shark populations have been reduced to 10% of historical levels, and nearly a third of shark species are approaching the point of extinction.

We need sharks: As top-dog predators, they keep the ocean's ecosystems in balance. And we need to stop eating shark's fin, at least until shark populations have had a chance to recuperate. […]

But Chinese culinary culture has proved resilient over the centuries, as able to absorb such foreign ingredients as chiles and squashes as it has been to withstand the absence of sea turtle skirt and bear paw, whose preparation obsessed the earliest Chinese gourmets. There is no third way with shark's fin — we either stop eating it because we choose to preserve the species, or we stop eating it because soon there will be none left to eat.

Deputy design director Wes Bausmith illustrated the art for Gold’s Op-Ed, capturing the danger -- and risk -- of eating a delicacy at the cost of sharks’ extinction.

Never tried shark’s fin soup? Continue reading Gold’s piece, which describes the soup’s preparation and fin’s taste -- or lack thereof.  


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-- Alexandra Le Tellier

Illustration by Wes Bausmith / Los Angeles Times


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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

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