12/22/2011 02:37 pm ET | Updated Feb 19, 2012

Fatty Acid Underpants


A rejected New York Times editorial. Photo credit: Elisha Cooper

"Are there fish in my child's onesie?"

As someone who catches and eats literally thousands of fish every year and on occasion writes in the New York Times about all the fish I've caught and eaten, I get a lot of questions about fish -- where they come from, how they are caught, how they taste, when they will go extinct and where you can buy fish that are going extinct at cut rate prices. But this question that appeared in my 4-year-old's Twitter feed the other day just plain stumped me. Fish in infant onesies? Could it be? How? And for Chrissake, why?

It turns out that a single company, Fatty Acid Underpants of Lowell, Mass., has come to dominate the infant onesie economy. Through a series of consolidations, penny stock swaps and outright theft FAU has managed, one by one, to squeeze out honest producers of loomed cotton and over a 10-year period replaced that wholesome organic fiber with a fabric spun entirely from the carcasses of cheap, once-plentiful river herring. River herring in case you weren't aware were once as common as passenger pigeons. Actually, they were more common than passenger pigeons. There were so many river herring they made passenger pigeons look like Bengal tigers. Seriously, if the all the money I've been paid for writing about fish in the New York Times was passenger pigeons, then river herring would be Bernie Madoff's consulting fee before his Ponzi scheme unraveled.

But I digress.

The point here is that by exploiting a tax credit the federal government provides to corporations that aid in child nutrition, Fatty Acid Underpants has bought off scores of scientists who in the most ludicrous statements ever made before Congress have suggested that heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids secreted into a child's tushy skin through the fabric of a onesie conceivably might provide as much as 30 percent of the nutritional benefits as actually ingesting fish oil tablets. Had Congressman Dennis Kucinich not been leaked testimony to this travesty by a whistle-blower who works the herring-onesie line in Lowell, neither I nor the New York Times would have had the slightest idea of Onesie-gate. For not only do Fatty Acid Underpants' fabrics not provide omega-3 benefits to children, they do the contrary. Yes, fish-based onesies actually contaminate both the tushies of children and the Lowell herring-onesie line workers with the most decidedly non-heart healthy fatty acid, the dreaded omega-6.

And that's not all. Have you seen the outflow of the FAU Lowell factory? OK, here's a visual. Imagine that truffula forest in Dr. Seuss's The Lorax after the Oncelers got done with it. All the Swomee Swans and Bar-ba-loots in their Bar-ba-loot suits? Gone. Now multiply that times 10. Now stir in some tilapia (which FAU "sustainably" harvests). Now splice in a gene from an ocean pout. Now take an antacid. It's just disgusting.

All of this occurred to me while casting a line for river herring off the Verrazano Bridge and checking my son's Twitter feed on my handheld. How many more of these aggravated assaults against the ocean and our children will have to occur before others in our government join me and Congressman Kucinich in our wolf-whistle in defense of the waves? Will endangered bluefin tuna have to be used for radial tires? Will Patagonian toothfish, already once re-branded as Chilean sea bass, have to be re-branded yet again and sold as California monkey loin? Reeling in a river herring and throwing it dead into my bucket, I felt suffused with the deepest sadness while salty tears drained from my ducts and blended with the aqua-marine tones of the miraculous sea all around me.