American Caviar: An Eco-Friendly Way to Celebrate Special Occasions
Caviar connoisseurs and novices alike have a new choice available for special occasions that will please not only palates but also environmentally conscious minds.
Caviar varieties produced from sturgeon and paddlefish farmed in the United States offer excellent taste and are environmentally sustainable: a win-win situation for culinary professionals and consumers who are concerned about the sharp decline of sturgeon populations in the Caspian Sea, the source of most of the world's caviar. Caspian Sea sturgeon -- whose eggs produce coveted beluga, sevruga and osetra caviar -- have been in a severe downward spiral in recent years due to overfishing, illegal trade, habitat loss and pollution.
Of the most concern is beluga sturgeon, whose population in the Caspian Sea has plunged by more than 90 percent in the past 20 years. Leading conservation organizations -- SeaWeb, University of Miami's Pew Institute for Ocean Science and Natural Resources Defense Council -- are seeking a halt to the international trade of beluga caviar as a key to the survival of this endangered species. Through the three organizations' Caviar Emptor: Let the Connoisseur Beware campaign, they are also urging consumers to consider American caviars as a better alternative.
Renowned chefs, major media organizations and consumers across the nation are heralding the American caviars, which hail from places such as California and Missouri. Chefs on both coasts have removed the Caspian Sea caviars from their menus and replaced them with the American farmed varieties. Leading chefs Jacques Pepin, Rick Moonen of Restaurant RM in New York City, and Traci Des Jardins of Jardiniere in San Francisco were among the first to join conservation organizations in the effort to help protect the struggling Caspian Sea sturgeon.
American caviars also performed well in taste tests by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, as well as Wine Spectator, Gourmet, Forbes and Metropolitan Home magazines. (See "What's Being Said About American Caviars")
In addition to pointing consumers to sustainable farmed caviar to help relieve the pressure on wild sturgeon species, Caviar Emptor succeeded in obtaining a ban on Caspian beluga caviar imports to the United States through the sturgeon's listing as a threatened species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act; and is also recommending an international ban on trade in beluga caviar; greater international funding to protect and restore Caspian Sea sturgeon; stronger U.S. enforcement of international trade restrictions on caviar imports; and stronger state management of U.S. sturgeon species.
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