by Poppy Tooker, former chapter leader of Slow Food New Orleans and emeritus member of the Biodiversity Committee
The oil situation in the Gulf of Mexico is threatening an entire culture on Louisiana’s coastline. Along every step of the food chain — from fisherman to chef to impassioned eaters like me — there is fear of the unknown. Until the oil gusher is stopped, none of us can tell what the future holds.
Shortly after Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. Slow Food Ark of Taste committee made an emergency boarding of Gulf seafood that seemed the most threatened at that time. Louisiana oysters and wild-caught Gulf shrimp were welcomed onto the Ark of Taste along with the New Orleans poor boy bread that they are so often served on.
Today, countless varieties of Gulf fin fish are hugely threatened, including lynchpins of our local menus like speckled trout and redfish. Our gumbo crab, the Louisiana blue crab, which is found both in the Gulf and in our brackish waterbodies like Lake Pontchartrain, could be wiped out by the intrusion of oil into our estuary marshes.
Since the oil disaster began, I have heard from Slow Food friends across the United States who ask, “How can we help?” The single best way to assist your food friends of the Gulf is to EAT GULF SEAFOOD.