Finding sustainable seafood has long been a challenge for environmentalists and foodies alike. Recently, however, supermarkets and food stores have stepped up their efforts to reconcile that dilemma.
Greenpeace has released the results of its annual Carting Away the Oceans report, which evaluates retailers on the sustainability of their seafood.
Greenpeace has conducted the study in each of the last five years, and no retailer had ever achieved a "green" rating. Until now.
This year, Safeway and Whole Foods topped the list, with a "green" score of 7.1 and 7.0 out of 10, respectively, followed by Wegmans, Harris Teeter and Target.
The stores were graded on a number of factors, including the sale of overfished species such as Chilean sea bass, hoki, orange roughy and shark.
The retailers were also scored based on the degree to which their fishing methods were destructive to habitat and the environment, as well as on their conservation initiatives, transparency and internal policies.
Although some supermarkets received the incriminating "fail" rating, the good news is that the overall performance of the industry has improved significantly, the report shows.
Despite this progress, problems persist. For instance, it is becoming increasingly difficult to trace fish back to their origin, making it hard to say for sure whether or not it is sustainable.
According to the report, fraud and other illegal activity are also prevalent in the global seafood market -- even in the U.S. According to Greenpeace, pirate vessels capture as much as 20 percent of the seafood caught globally.
To make matters worse, a dismal 2 percent of imported seafood is inspected for safety at international borders, posing concerns not only for sustainability, but also human health.
Is your seafood sustainable? Check out this infographic for a snapshot of retailers' seafood practices:
Image credit: Greenpeace
Follow Laura DiMugno on Twitter: www.twitter.com/KeepItGreenLD