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English Does Not Do Seafood Any Justice

May 20, 2013

It is interesting to ponder how little attention the world pays to the oceans. This other 71% of the planet is all too often ignored.  I wonder if perhaps it is because we have such poor terms to talk about the ocean’s bounty.

So here’s food for thought. Consider our major protein categories and what species they comprise:

Chicken encompasses just 1 species: Gallus gallus domesticus

Pork encompasses just 1 species: Sus domesticus

Beef typically encompasses just 2 species (depending on your taxonomy): Bos taurus and Bos indicus

What about seafood?  This one term typically encompasses the 50-100 species most of us eat in the west…but there are in fact 15,000 species of edible aquatic animals.

Given the number and variety of seafood species, it seems to me we should all stop using this general term ‘seafood’ and start talking about these foods in far more precise language.  If we borrow from The Sea Around Us Project (SAUP), we might better break down seafood into 10 commercial groups including flatfish, anchovies, crustaceans, and cod-likes (see here).

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