As I write this, oil is still gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. I don’t try and keep up on the news about it – I live next to the ocean and have an imagination. It will most likely be deeply devastating for an entire ecosystem – the people and plants and fish and birds that all dependent on each another. For food. For shelter. For livelihood.  An entire culture along that coast, already beaten down by Katrina, now waiting, like the seabirds, to be smothered with oil. Damaged food chains with a ripple-through effect that will last – years? Decades? Longer? And the families of those eleven workers killed – how devastating is this for them?

Gulf of Mexico fisheries are already affected by one “dead zone.”  The Mississippi River dumps nutrients – fertilizer collected in the runoff from both industrial farms and suburban lawns that drain into its watershed – into the sea, setting off a chain reaction creating a huge low-oxygen area that kills oysters, clams, and lobsters and keeps faster-moving fish away. We’re like Dr. Frankenstein – creating technologies that, while not inherently evil, have the ability to take on a life of their own and wreck havoc.

Is there any way to tame the Creature? I’m just one person sitting in a chair more than half a country away from the Gulf but don’t want to think I’m powerless.

Making choices that can make a difference is a start. I’m just one person buying food for my family in my Life In A Skillet, but I’m inspired by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program. They’ve developed recommendations for seafood purchases that are good choices to promote sustainability and healthy oceans, and which ones to avoid. “Informed consumers can help turn the tide,” as they point out, to help preserve fish populations and habitats – ultimately helping to preserve human livelihood and culture.

So today I have a very modest Call To Action. Go to this website and download their “pocket guide” to the best seafood choices for the region in the U. S. where you live. It’s simple, it’s free, and it’s something.