Sunday, December 23, 2007

Tanzanian fish in your holiday marshmallows. Yuk.

One of the more disturbing moments I had this holiday season was when a package of marshmallows we purchased for holiday hot chocolate turned out to contain the African fish nile perch in them. The brand was Elyon's from Israel, but on sale through some sites like Amazon and iGourmet. Well, at least they're kosher.

This is especially disturbing if you have seen the movie Darwin's Nightmare.
Nile perch is an invasive fish that has caused the extinction of many other native species and completely disrupted the ecosystem. The movie uses the lens of the fishing industry to look at many of Africa's social ills, from AIDS to prostitution to orphaned children to globalization to war.

In short, in the film you can see that the perch is destroying the ecosystem. Meanwhile, Europeans are eating this fish, which has freakishly large, flaky fillets by the ton. And where's the money going? Indian factory owners, European importers and drunken Russian pilots. Oh, and European arms dealers, because that's what is coming in on the supposedly "empty" planes from Europe that pick up the fish. You have to watch Darwin's Nightmare to believe it.

So how's that for a cup of holiday cheer? I don't think I'm asking all that much when I suggest you boycott marshmallows with Tanzanian fish that is emblematic of an entire continent's exploitation.

Don't believe the Nile Perch is a freak? Check out this pic from an African fishing site.


Ted Chan said...

Some insight from my friend Ben: Fish bones are used to make a kosher gelatin alternative. Gelatin itself is made from collagen extracted from pork and horse cartilage (neither are kosher). Yummy!

Ted Chan said...

Ugh, I guess fish bones are better than horse hooves, but I prefer my marshmallows with no animal byproducts in them...
Ted Chan at 2:23pm Dec 26

It's especially grim if you're a vegan...
Ben Gaines at 2:39pm Dec 26

I guess they make vegan marshmallows, but I've never had one. This must be like finding out that shampoo is frequently made with urea and placenta (I don't think they use placenta as much anymore).
Ben Gaines at 2:40pm Dec 26

And this isn't just marshmallows we're talking about: this is all gelatin products.
Ted Chan at 2:45pm Dec 26

From Wikipedia: The traditional recipe used an extract from the mucilaginous root of the marshmallow plant, a shrubby herb (Althaea officinalis), instead of gelatin; the mucilage acted as a cough suppressant.[1][2]

Stephan said...

you have talked about gelatin that made of fish bones and tanzanian fish then you related them with europe, war and many more. you have thought about many things. is that the fish pic? so big, no wonder it will eat anything and ruin the ecosystem. since you have mentioned about marshmallow without animal products, are you a vegan? would you tell, the best vegan marshmallow?