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Los Angeles, CA, United States


Monday, August 8, 2011

To Ban or not to Ban? Shark Fin Soup may be history

As some of you know, I love to eat and I love to review places where I've eaten on Yelp. At the same time, I'm not a fan of the the term "foodie" and prefer to be called a gourmand or is that a gourd (I get the two mixed up. Either way, I'm probably both).  Consequently, I follow Jonathan Gold, the Pulitzer prize winning food critic in the LA Weekly.  Gold has likes and dislikes and can be somewhat polarizing with his critiques of LA's food scene.

Recently, Gold just chimed in support for a bill that bans the sale, trade, and consumption of Shark Fin in California.  I can hear the screaming now of the entire Asian community protesting the racism against such a ban.  Comments already bantered around the internet are crying foul like "It's a cultural thing and banning would be a racial bias against the Chinese American community." And I can see others stating "They're trying to rid us of our cultural identity" and so on and so on. We've all heard the same rhetoric time and time again from different ethnic backgrounds and in most cases, rightfully so.

The funny thing about this issue is Gold is right in saying "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."

It's become a eat me now and who cares about our future generations eating this delicacy.  It also means the potential extinction of a big part of our natural food chain. But the bottom line is that California's law is simply symbolic and would only make a small dent in slowing down the extinction of sharks.  The only hope is that other states then countries follow suit.

As resilient as we are as humans, I'm sure there's someone out there is working on a shark fin alternative.  It's also funny to think that abalone was almost extinct and similar measures were taken to stop their sale and harvest.  The big difference is that abalone could be farmed and grown.  Unfortunately, sharks don't have that luxury and need room to roam.  The ecology of the sea depends on this species plus what would we do without "Shark Week" on Discovery channel.

The world protested the hunting of whales and today, much less whales are caught for consumption.  A large part is also due to the Sea Shepherd's efforts.  (You can tell I watch a lot of TV). 

Now the law will have its inherent cons.  Can you imagine someone driving up a dark alley and another car pull up to handle a transaction of black market shark fin? Or walking into a Chinese market and giving the password like "the carpet is plush" and the grocer takes you into the back room filled with assorted fins at outrageous prices.  These are realistic scenarios.  But even more realistic is the likelihood that sharks will be gone in a few generations and the mechanical "Jaws" shark at Universal Studios  will show up in Jurassic Park movie , the sequel #50 along side the dinosaurs. So c'mon California, let's make that small dent and lead the way towards saving Shark Week.


  1. Have you ever tried shark fin?? I haven't, and can't say that I've ever seen it in any of the Chinese grocery stores I've visited.

  2. Because shark fin is an expensive item, most stores will keep it in a safe area locked up like some liquors. Yes, I've had shark fin and it has a unique gelatinous texture while be kind of stringy. We served it at our wedding banguet. The soup itself is very tasty but I don't believe the broth is primarily a fish broth and the shark fin adds texture. I believe they are substitutes that exist that will be difficult to tell the difference.