Sushi powerhouse Nobu is typically known for its Hollywood clientele, but this week the high-end restaurant chain is raising its profile for another reason. In response to environmental groups’ demands that it stop serving the expensive delicacy bluefin tuna, Nobu London has added a strange disclaimer to its menu saying: “Environmentally challenged. Please ask your server for an alternative.” Needless to say, that’s not enough to satisfy the activist crowd. (As one New York magazine blogger points out, nothing ever does.) But there’s a lot more to this controversy than a restaurant’s reluctance to stop serving a $50 fish dish. To put it bluntly, Nobu investor Robert De Niro isn’t the only one raking in the cash from all the bluefin buzz.
Note that Nobu doesn’t call its bluefin “challenged” on this side of the Atlantic. There’s no need to. In the United States, per capita consumption of bluefin tuna is aroud one-seventh of one ounce. That’s less than a nickel weighs. Most bluefin is consumed by the Japanese, and in countries close to the Mediterranean Sea.
So why are so many environmental groups raising a ruckus about bluefin tuna in the U.S.? We’ll give you a hint: It’s the same reason that the Humane Society of the United States is so desperate to associate itself with local humane societies. And Michael Vick’s dogs. And the abandoned pets left in Hurricane Katrina’s wake. And the fallacy that greenhouse gases related to U.S. meat production come anywhere near what’s common overseas.
The day Americans find out they’re not the ones enjoying too much bluefin will be a very tough day in the fundraising departments of Oceana and Greenpeace. Not that we’ll shed a tear.