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It’s All A Matter Of Taste Or Is It?

2009 August 27

I just saw a movie which took me through the first chapters of Julia Child’s life-long venture with French cooking. Having been a French major in college, I must confess, that Julia’s first cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, became basic reading just like Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry), which brings me to today’s blog. While Julia Child is to be credited with opening Americans’ eyes to new French culinary techniques, we must note that her advice was ahead of its time. Not only did Ms. Child adapt ingredients to those which would be easily found in the traditional American kitchen and supermarkets, she is also credited with educating chefs-in-training on the importance of using fresh seasonal ingredients whenever possible. In her cookbooks, she even highlights during which months taste is optimum for specific produce. Essentially, in the early sixties, Julia Child was already a locavore way before the term had been coined. I don’t think reducing her carbon footprint was what she had in mind. For her, it was a matter of taste.

That brings me to the other issue I would like to discuss today–eating fresh fish. While eating fish and seafood is an essential part of a healthy diet, whether you’re a famous chef or not, many people argue that fresh fish actually tastes better. Well, freshly caught fish is more difficult to find nowadays. As I was reading several articles on aquaculture, I was surprised to learn that nearly half of all fish eaten today are actually farmed, not caught in the open seas or fresh waters. Back in 1980, the percentage of farmed-raised fish that made it to our tables was only 9 percent! Aquaculturists are even developing techniques so the farmed-raised fish will actually taste “fresh.” Given the growing population, good aquaculture practices are key to ensuring a sustainable supply of fish for human consumption. According to a recent study, there seems to be some hope for fisheries worldwide.

I would like to get input as to your thoughts on the issue. Personally, it all boils down to the taste of food—or does it really? In conclusion, bon appétit! As Julia Child used to say….

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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10 Responses leave one →
  1. Marta permalink
    August 27, 2009

    The biggest threat to the sustainability of certain wild fish species comes from their farm-raised cousins. Wild salmon populations are one example, which came as a surprise to me. I now only purchase wild salmon.

  2. Mary Ann permalink
    August 27, 2009

    A great resource on sustainable fisheries is the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Their Seafood Watch pocket guide helps consumers purchase sustainably harvested fish that don’t impact our native populations. It can be downloaded at

  3. Lina permalink*
    August 27, 2009

    Thanks for the link. Useful info.

  4. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    August 28, 2009

    Farm raised fish will be necessary to an ever increasing population. The amount of people demanding fish in their diets would quickly out strip the ability of wild fish populations to sustain themselves and they could become threatened or indangered from overfishing. Fish farms could be placed far enough away from the streams and spawning grounds of wild fish so the two groups would not mix. Fish farms also generate biowaste and enough is generated at farms in parts of Washington state and Oregon to create onsite electricihty to power some farms and help supply power to nearby towns. Farmed fish should be seen as an important resource and a means of preserving wildpopulations. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  5. Lina-EPA permalink*
    August 28, 2009

    I don’t deny that farm-raised fish are becoming a necessity. There seems to be no other option at this point. Hopefully, with technological developments in the future, we’ll be able to have a win-win situation all around. Wasn’t aware of the “recycling” of the biowaste in the Washington/Oregon area. Interesting.

  6. Helen permalink
    August 28, 2009

    Aquaculture is becoming very popular worldwide. I live in Portugal and they are now farming oysters. Apparently they can not keep up with demand from the French, so I guess the taste has not been sacrificed.

  7. Johnny R. permalink
    August 28, 2009

    Was Julia Child aware of the dietary danger in eating fish, all of which are today contaminated with trace pollutants, mercury being the most dangerous?

    Human overpopulation has overfished the seas so certain popular species like Cod have become endangered and fishing prohibited. But there are more hungry people every year, not less, and they generate a growing mass of plastic garbage that becomes “landfill in the sea”, which kills a growing list of seabirds and cannot feed the fish. However, in polite EPA circles, it is considered bad taste to mention such matters (!)

  8. Menoquil permalink
    July 7, 2010

    This is a really good read for me, Must admit that you are one of the best bloggers I ever saw.Thanks for posting this informative article.

  9. roja amber permalink
    February 7, 2011

    I agree with all these points.Very useful info. Hope to see more posts soon! Thanks..

  10. Cherry permalink
    June 18, 2011

    I bought Julia’s cookbook before and love them, easy to follow and food taste great, the only thing I dont have much time doing cooking during work days,but have tried many of her recipes at weekends.


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