You can tuna fish, but can you fish a tuna?

I've eaten one tuna melt in my life (at Barriques, was pretty tasty). I've never made one. I'm no connoisseur, but I know this was not the template for traditional tuna melt. But christ if it wasn't one of the tastiest sandwiches I've made at home. Ever. And I like to make sandwiches. I do it respectably well.

I used American Tuna. In the Madison area, you can find it at Woodman's. It's not cheap; it costs $5 per can. But open it up and you'll see the difference. Hardly any water, packed tight. Aroma and taste are FISH, not FISHY. And the albacore from American is procured responsibly. No mega-trawlers. No drag nets. Pole caught. And if it means something to you, it's all done by Americans in the US of A.

Starkist tuna (albacore, really) costs a fraction of this. You might think it wasteful or unfrugal to spend five times as much for what seems like the same thing. Again, I refer you to the taste and aroma, texture and low water volume. If you need more convincing, Slate.com wrote:
A new study warns that overfishing has shrunk marlin, swordfish, and tuna populations by 90 percent since 1950. Given the crisis, why does a can of tuna still cost under a buck?

Because the species that end up in your tuna casserole aren't the ones being severely depleted.

As visitors to Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market can attest, a choice southern bluefin can fetch upward of $40,000—a price that makes it an uneconomical choice for, say, Starkist's Chunk Light tuna. That's why big-time canners instead prefer smaller, less flavorful species. Albacore, the so-called chicken of the sea, is what you'll get if the tin says "white meat."

A recent study by the WorldFish Center estimated that, in a worst-case scenario, prices for tilapia, carp, and other low-grade fish could jump by 70 percent, in real terms, by 2020. On the canned front, albacore, skipjack, and yellowfin stocks are generally considered "fully exploited," meaning that a marked increase in annual catches could, eventually, put an end to your supermarket's two-for-a-dollar deals.
(emphasis mine)

If you're not thinking about sustainability, responsibility, and the health of our world's oceans when buying seafood, you're neglecting a very important issue. The new documentary film The End of the Line can tell you what you might not realize is the case.



The sandwich I made, at home, for about $3 worth of ingredients, would likely cost you $7 for the same ingredients at a local cafe. Think about that before you bemoan the cost of a $5 can of American Tuna. More importantly, don't focus on the dollars and instead think about what an ocean devoid of abundant life would be like for the health of our planet. It's a change you can effect in your own life, and trust me when I tell you that it'll taste better to eat right.