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Snack on sushi in June

What: While sushi has a history dating back to at least the 2nd century, the delicacy only came to America in the 1960s, when small sushi restaurants in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo district began popping up to serve locals. By the 1980s, this novelty dish had become high dining, and luxury sushi bars dotted metropolitan business districts. Today, sushi can easily be found in grocery stores and restaurants alike, and the variety of ingredients to choose from make sushi a creative and adaptable meal. Recognize the important cultural history of sushi while also enjoying it as a healthy and delicious meal on International Sushi Day, observed June 18.

Background: International Sushi Day was first celebrated on June 18, 2009. Sushi fan Chris DeMay founded the event after creating a sushi fan page on Facebook that attracted more than 1 million members. Sushi Day quickly caught on with both sushi lovers and restaurant owners, who offer specials to celebrate.

Story Pitch: Sushi restaurants can obviously benefit from International Sushi Day, but other industries can celebrate as well. The event is a great opportunity for grocers to promote their ethnic foods selection and give tips to consumers on how to prepare sushi and other foods from around the globe. Sushi came to America from Japan, but Southeast Asia and China also played a role in shaping modern sushi. Companies manufacturing or importing Asian specialty foods have a chance to promote the day, especially emphasizing the cultural heritage of the foods they sell. While sushi doesn’t require fish, seafood is one of the most common sushi ingredients. With concerns about overfishing, as well as pollution, the day is an excellent way for conservation groups to spread the word about protecting oceans and better managing fisheries. Additionally, they can inform sushi fans about what types of fish are good choices for sushi, and what to avoid for the environment’s sake. With healthy ingredients like lean fish and fresh vegetables, sushi can make for a nutritious meal. Health groups may promote their cause by discussing what types of sushi are health-friendly, as well as how to avoid hidden calories in some sushi rolls.

Story Hook: The word “sushi” actually refers to the sweet, vinegared rice used in the dish, but fish is the perfect accompaniment for the flavor of sushi rice. Bluefin tuna is one of the most popular fish to use in sushi for its good flavor and availability. Unfortunately, its popularity has led to serious overfishing, leading to a 90 percent reduction in Atlantic Ocean stocks. Concerns over a collapse of many types of fish have led some sushi lovers to look for sustainable stocks and alternative fish. How can sushi fans make good choices about the kinds of fish they eat? What restaurants are leading the way in finding sustainable sources? How are fisheries being managed and monitored? Consider the following as you make your pitch:

  • What are common sushi ingredients that are always good, sustainable choices?
  • There are various types of sushi. What are different styles of sushi? How does is the preparation different?
  • How can sushi lovers make sushi at home? What equipment is required?
  • What is proper sushi-eating etiquette? What kind of training do serious sushi chefs receive?

Tips: A sushi chef with extensive training is a great contact to talk about the history and heritage of sushi, and can also discuss different ingredients and types of sushi. A historian with an expertise in Asian or Japanese studies would also be a good person to speak about the role sushi has played in not only ancient Japan, but modern America.

Resources:

American Fisheries Society
(301) 897-8616
www.fisheries.org

Japan Society
(212) 832-1155
www.japansociety.org

Japanese Food Culture Association
(310) 947-9442
info(at)jfcausa.org
www.japanesefoodculture.org

Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch
(877) 229-9990
seafoodwatch(at)mbayaq.org
www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx

–Researched, compiled & written by Kristina Elliott
Event Dates  from CHASE’S Calendar of Events

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