I have a confession to make: I am eating fish again.
During my year of vegetarianism, I’ve repeatedly asked myself, “Does my body function better when I eat fish?” So I’m now conducting a personal experiment: making fish a dietary mainstay during my stay in Hawaii, where I’m on assignment for Lonely Planet.
Forgoing fish was no problem, as I’m quite satisfied with tofu, lentils, and other vegetarian protein sources. But I seemed to be pushing my limits without enough nourishment; for example, I experienced minor but nagging soft-tissue injuries. Perhaps my diet wasn’t hearty enough, perhaps my slight frame offered minimal reserves. I joke about my fish-and-rice-eating ancestry (Japanese), but perhaps we are genetically programmed to thrive best on specific sources of sustenance.
Having grown up in Hilo, Hawaii, I’ve taken for granted not only the local bounty, but also the way people are closer to food “production.” Locals might plant fruit trees in the backyard, grow summer vegetables, or gather seaweed and catch fish. I’m talking about regular people, with regular jobs, who nevertheless find time to live off the land (which in Hawaii includes ocean). Here, one knows that a tuna is more than a slab of red flesh wrapped in styrofoam and plastic.
An avid fisherman born and raised in Hawaii, Wada creates detailed images that capture not only a species’ overall form but also scales and gills and eyes. He knows that most people never see a live fish before eating it, so he tries to share his experience. From his impeccable booth setup and handling of his merchandise (not to mention his elegant artwork), I’d expect similar respect and care in fishing.
I still have qualms about killing and eating fish. But I’m trying to do so as mindfully and moderately as possible.
Images: maguro (tuna) sashimi; Mahimahi, Nature Prints Hawaii