Actress Angela Kinsey may not be a seafood fan on The Office--her stern character, Angela Martin, once instructed Andy against taking her anywhere with patios, vegetables, and fish--but in real life, the ocean-loving star wants to know all about the fin-fare she's consuming. We caught up with Kinsey this morning on the Hill, where she's taking a short break from life in Los Angeles to join Oceana and local chef-author-advocate Barton Seaver in a campaign against seafood fraud.
We're no strangers to edible artifice in Washington: When a restaurant serves "Maryland crabcakes" at a premium while using cheaper Venezuelan meat, that's seafood fraud (and a pretty widespread heist). At best, you and the local fishermen are getting ripped off. Worse, certain impostor products can make you sick. Ever felt queasy after downing a few orders of "white tuna" sushi? You may have eaten escolar, a less-expensive fish that certain restaurants swap out for tuna, knowingly and not. It's tasty in small doses, but in larger quantities you'll understand the nickname "Ex-Lax fish."
Kinsey and Seaver are speaking out on the issue as the Senate is reviewing three bills to improve traceability and end seafood fraud. In the meantime, what can you do?
"I ask a lot of questions about the fish and where it's from," says Kinsey of dining in restaurants and shopping at markets. "If they don't know how to answer you, that's a red flag for me. Also, if a typically expensive fish is being sold at a cheap price."
Seaver chimes in that it's also on the diner to make a change: "When you walk into a restaurant or market with a preordained notion of what you want--'I'm going to have salmon tonight'--then you're forcing the system to create that salmon. . . . Instead, ask for what's freshest."