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Green Film Festival Features Sushi: The Global Catch

The Green Film Festival in San Francisco is featuring the film Sushi: The Global Catch.
The opening of this film shows Tokyo chef Mamoru Sugiyama carefully placing gorgeous transparent and artistically sliced pieces of nigiri atop perfectly formed mounds of vinegar rice, in his Michelin-starred restaurant kitchen. If you’re the kind of person who loves sushi, this scene makes your mouth water. It’s such a cruel tease. The film proceeds to tell you all the reasons why your San Franciscan appetite for sushi, so geographically remote from the land of its creation, is actually a very destructive thing.

The construction of sushi, in classical Japanese style, is a precise and elegant process, that this film does a beautiful job of exploring. It takes aspiring chefs two years of apprenticeship just to learn how to properly prepare the rice. But sushi is now being mass-produced all over the world, to feed a growing international taste for this once esoteric Japanese delicacy. Elegance and precision have fallen by the wayside, in favor of quantity and expediency. As with most such trade-offs, the environment is suffering for it. Of course the story revolves around money – as the demand has exploded, Bluefin Tuna has become a piscine gold for fisherman. At legendary Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, tuna can be auctioned for as much as $1200 per pound. Tuna has been so overfished that at this point, some propose to put it on the endangered species list.

This is a story of global food trends, an intimate cultural portrait of a revered Japanese tradition, and a conservationist’s field guide to seafood. The message is clear: don’t eat more than the earth can comfortably provide. But if, after watching, you still can’t help but crave a bite of sushi, head over to Tataki, San Francisco’s first sustainable sushi bar, profiled in the film and located in Pacific Heights.