July 14, 2011

It sure seems like there has been a lot of challenging events happening in our world and our industry.  Although I certainly appreciate the efforts of the members of the media in keeping us informed, I’m often bemused how often “the rest of the story” is not told or hyped beyond the facts.

When the oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico happened last year the press made it seem as the whole Gulf was contaminated by the spill. While we don’t want to minimize such a disaster the truth is that the actual affected area was minimal in relative area to the Gulf. The greater disaster was the public’s avoidance of Gulf seafood, affecting many livelihoods and families unnecessarily. Our gulf friends in the business are still struggling to recover from the damage done…..more by the media than the oil.

Likewise, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the subsequent threat of the nuclear leak, again not to minimalize the threat or in particular the tragic loss of life, the press again wrought more fear regarding the radiation than was realistic, predicting nuclear waste stretching across the Pacific…again creating a false perception to the public. 

There were other captivating headlines.  Attention grabbers. But in the midst of the uncontrollable forces of nature wreaking havoc, there were good things happening and positive things for the industry.  Successes earned by good people working hard to promote the benefits of seafood as part of a healthy diet.

In January, the US Government for the first time began encouraging people to eat seafood twice per week as part of the 2010 updated Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). This is great news!  Congratulations to NFI’s Jennifer McGuire and her team in their expert recommendations presented to the DGA Committee resulting in seafood being specifically called out as a food that Americans should eat.

In June, the DGA’s iconic “My Pyramid” was replaced with the “My Plate” food icon for healthy eating.  This is another positive “newsbyte” for our industry.  The plate does not feature actual images of food but rather spaces and proportions for protein, fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy with again, seafood being called out specifically stating clearly, “Twice a week, make seafood the protein on your plate.”  Now there’s some good news for us all to share!