Barton Seaver, a chef and author whose name is synonymous with sustainable seafood in ethical eating circles, is ready to dispense with the term "sustainable."
"In 20 years of sustainable dialogue, there hasn't been any massive conservation shift," Seaver, author of For Cod and Country: Simple, Delicious, Sustainable Cooking, said at last week's American Fisheries Society's annual meeting in Seattle.
"While we're stuck on good, we need to focus on getting better," Seaver said. "We need restorative seafood."
The concept of sustaining doesn't appeal to a public interested in moving forward, Seaver argues.
"It's all about maintaining the status quo," Seaver said. "You're telling me if everything goes right, the cod that's on sale today will be here again tomorrow? That's not a very compelling reward system."
Seaver compares sustainability to Crystal Pepsi, which was touted as tasting exactly the same as the cola-colored Pepsi beloved by soda drinkers. Seaver believes the marketing gambit failed because consumers won't adjust their buying habits in order to get what they already have.
But Seaver thinks shoppers would eat more fish if they understood their eating habits could help protect fish stocks and preserve jobs in the fishing industry.
Seaver clarified his conclusion after the session: "To me, the compelling narrative of conservation is a story of responsible human consumption," he says. "It's what we do, not what we don't do."