Just One Thing Challenge #3


It warms me to see that we are close to 30 in our numbers this week. If you think you can handle the challenge then sign up below! Some people complained last week that the task wasn’t hard enough…others moaned I already do this. So this week we kick it up a notch with #3.

The request: Write a letter/email to your local Trader Joe’s and the national chain urging them to remove Orange Roughy from their freezers. Get everyone you know to write a letter. Avoid eating Orange Roughy yourself. Address, email, and letter for your use or alteration are below the fold. If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you write a letter anyway! Make sure to head over to Seafood Watch and make sure you are in compliance with your seafood consumption. Carry one of their handy lists in your wallet or purse.

The reason:I was totally dismayed to discover that one of my favorite grocery stores for organic goodies is still carrying Orange Roughy. This is sooo 1980’s. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch lists Orange Roughy in the avoid list. DSN places it in the Avoid Or Will Put A Hit On Your Life category. Orange Roughy are a slow growing and long lived fish making them extremely vulnerable to overfishing. The filets that arrive at market are likely from fish 50+ years in age. Orange Roughy is caught by bottom trawling, particularly on seamounts where aggregations occur. Bottom trawling destroys the seafloor ecosystem including deep-water corals. Do you want to make Peter cry? Environmental Defense has also issued a health advisory for this fish due to high levels of mercury.

Our combined impact: Don’t poison ourselves, help prevent the decimation of a deep-sea fish, and take away one more reason to scour the deep-sea floor with trawls.

Ongoing challenges:
1a. Sign up at this post
1b. Keep reading DSN and participating in the Just One Thing Challenge
2. Use no plastic grocery and shopping bags for the next week. Use, and purchase if necessary, reusable bags. Recycle all plastic bags around the house at a participating location.

People accepting the Just One Thing Challenge: 1. Craig McClain 2. Kevin Zelnio 3. Peter Etnoyer 4. Sheril K. 5. Mike G 6. Farne 7. Jim Lemire 8. Kiki 9. Fish Guy Dave 10. CK 11. Karen James 12. Merisea 13. Keely 14. tonyj 15. Traci 16. Mrs. Hillary Victoria Minor 17. Peter Mc 18. Tony D 19. Mary Aloyse Firestone 20. Miriam Goldstein 21.John 22. Judith in Ottawa 23. tjewell 24. Slim 25. Ashley 26. Silver 27. Steve W. 28. John Hill 29. Rachel 30. You?

The feedback form is here. A store list with addresses is here (pdf).

Dear Trader Joe’s,

I am a long standing customer with your company and believe Trader’s Joe’s can continue to be an environmentally conscious company. I applaud your dedication to provide organic options and eco-friendly alternatives. I write this letter to strongly urge you to consider removing Orange Roughy from your freezer cases.

Orange Roughy is placed on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch avoid list. This species is both slow growing and long lived making them extremely vulnerable to overfishing. The filets that arrive at market often come from fish fifty years of age or older. Additionally, the species is harvested by bottom trawling destroying fragile deep-sea ecosystems including deep-water coral reefs. Currently, international initiatives, including one among members of the European Union, to ban this fishing practice are underway. Orange Roughy may also pose a considerable health risk. Recently, Environmental Defense has issued a health advisory for this fish due to high levels of mercury.

By selling Orange Roughy, I feel that Trader Joe’s diminishes its reputation of forward ecological initiatives and global responsibility. We urge our “Neighborhood Grocery Store” to act globally.

Thank you for your consideration.

Best regards,

(insert your name and contact info here).

15 Replies to “Just One Thing Challenge #3”

  1. Sadly, very sadly, there is no Trader Joe’s in the UK. There are, however, plenty of supermarket chains who claim to be all shiny and green but are still selling some serious no-no’s on their seafood shelves (Karen James, personal outraged communication). For a long while there weren’t any pocket guides like the exemplary Seafood Watch list but tailored for the European consumer. This is an important difference, since the same species of fish in European markets often comes from different regional fisheries with different sustainability factors. But now, and I think Charlie Clover’s book “End of the Line” had something to do with this, there’s a new online guide for the northeast Atlantic called Fishonline:

    Which produces its own pocket guide called the MCS Good Fish Guide (PDF):

    We have the Marine Conservation Society (UK) to thank for this development, so click over and have a gander:

  2. Hey, no fair, making us actually interact with people! Someone might see what I did and think I’m some kind of wierdo! Oh… Too late for that. Off goes my correspondence.

    I wasn’t aware of that one, thanks for the pointer. Learn something new every day, eh? I’ll be sure to pick on my brother, though, he’s one of those novelty carnivores. (as in, the weirder it is, the better it must taste!)

  3. So i want to ask where does this project stand on the use of Paper bags. I tend to get paper which i then re-use or recycle. I should use more canvas i know but the paper bags are pretty perfect for sorting and carrying my recycling. Which i have to do since I live in one of the non blue bin parts of chicago so i carry it in to a quasi-independent recycling center.

    So what’s the word?

  4. To quote

    Both paper and plastic bags consume large amounts of natural resources and the majority will eventually end up in the landfill. Both bags can be recycled to some extent and can be utilized around the house. We’ve read several studies comparing the two choices and none of them agree. Some feel plastic is the better overall choice, others paper. It’s really tough to say. Paper may consume more resources to produce, however, it is also more recyclable than plastic if you include the fact that paper can be composted and plastic bags cannot. In our opinion, neither one is the winner. The best choice overall, is a reusable bag

    My mind is that plastic is probably worse (marginally?) because the impact is two-fold consumption of fossil fuels/increased carbon emissions and the fact that plastic is not biodegradable. I understand the dilemma completely. Why not try one of the biobags or I just found some biodegradable bags at Wal-Mart (surprisingly).

  5. This is the letter I sent. Anyone can feel free to take from it what they will!

    I’m ready for the next challenge!

    Dear Trader Joe’s,
    I am writing in concern to your continued selling of a deep sea fish, Orange Roughy in your stores. I have been a long time customer of Trader Joe’s in Monterey, CA as well as other CA locations. The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program lists the Orange Roughy as a species of fish to avoid eating. This is because they are slow growing and long lived and thus are prone to overfishing since they cannot reproduce as fast as they are being caught. Furthermore, the common method of catching this fish, deep-water trawling, is a destructive method that destroys many rare deep-sea coral species in this process. These corals also provide habitat for juvenile Orange Roughy and other commercially important seafood species. Therefore, I urge Trader Joe’s, a fine establishment that I have enjoyed for several years, to cease selling Orange Roughy and become a leader in sustainable seafood choices.

    Best Regards, Kevin Zelnio
    Marine Biologist
    Pennsylvania State University

  6. Um. This was the reply I got back. I’m not even sure this is a reply to my

  7. letter, actually. (Organizations such as these?? Using symbols? MSC? Wha-huh? I have no idea what she’s talking about.)

    Thanks for contacting us with your question. We do not purchase from organizations such as these because they get a % from the sales and they dictate who we purchase from. The approved MSC suppliers can charge whatever they want to use their symbol. This does not allow us to source
    our own high quality product and great prices. All TJ suppliers are approved with the National Fisheries Association and follow their guidelines regarding controlled fish and we only purchase from approved areas. Our buyers monitor the issues of concern with our suppliers.

    I hope this helps!


    Trader Joe’s Customer Relations

  8. And my reply back, after having spent an hour researching, trying to figure out what she thought she was replying to…

    Respectfully, but no, this doesn’t help, as your reply seems to be at cross-purposes to my concerns.

    “Purchase from organizations such as these?” I didn’t ask for you to make a purchase from any particular organization, but simply to stop buying orange roughy.

    I’m confused by your referring to MSC suppliers and symbols. Again, this has nothing to do with my comment. While I understand your concern with the integrity of the MSC labels, I’m not asking you to buy fish with MSC labels. I’m asking you to stop buying orange roughy.

    Re your confidence in the National Fisheries Association, if you feel that there is a conflict of interest that compromises the integrity of MSC labels, I’m surprised that you aren’t similarly suspicious of a conflict of interest concerning the National Fisheries Association. After all, they describe themselves on their own webpage as “the nation

  9. I received the same unsatisfying response as Sanguinity. Any response Sanguinity on your second email. Any body else receive a reply? Well, what to do? Keep sending letters and emails! I just send my second. I also contacted Seafood watch at the Monterey Bay Aquarium to see what further we can do with their potential help and weight.

  10. I used the TJ’s form too. I expect the same initial response, but if we keep this up, maybe they’ll “get it” sooner than later.

    Thanks for posting this challenge.

  11. Here’s the response I got, which is different than the responses above:

    Hello Summer,

    Thank you for contacting us with your concerns. Since we are in the business of selling seafood, we are very interested in making certain that seafood sustainability is achieved. With regards to your specific requests and questions about Orange Roughy, we will forward your email
    to our product group for their review.

    Customer Relations

Comments are closed.