Written by Adrianne Madden
July 18, 2008
If seafood consumption were an Olympic sport, America would have to settle for the bronze medal.
The average American downed 16.3 pounds of fish and shellfish in 2007 versus 16.5 pounds in 2006, a one percent drop, according to NMFS' annual report, Fisheries of the United States, which the agency released this week. Overall, Americans chowed on 4.908 billion pounds of seafood in 2007, a tad less than the 4.944 billion pounds eaten in 2006.
The 4.9 billion pounds made the United States the third largest consumer of fish and shellfish, behind China and Japan. China might be tough to overtake; the country has an estimated 1.3 billion people to work with, whereas we've got an estimated 301.1 million people. Heck, the average Chinese citizen need only eat about 3.8 pounds of seafood to equal our output.
But we've got more people to work with than there are in Japan, whose population is an estimated 127.4 million. However, Japan's diet is largely fish because, well, it's primarily what's available to them. Us Americans are too distracted by the smorgasbord of Big Macs, stuffed-crust pizzas and buffalo chicken wings to properly focus on eating as much seafood as we should.
Hence, we sit in third place in global seafood consumption.
America settling for bronze? I think not.
The truth is that American seafood consumption has been hovering around 16 pounds per person for a number of years. It might go up a little one year, down a little the next, but it's always right around 16 pounds.
I think if we dedicate ourselves to the task, we can bring home the gold. It'll mean finding ways to make seafood a higher priority than the myriad fast food options open to Americans. As we develop ways to make seafood a quick, tasty and convenient (not to mention healthy) choice for Americans on the go, we can boost U.S. seafood consumption to new Olympic heights.
Dare to dream, people, and keep your eyes on the prize.
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