I love it when the good guys win in a movie.
Months ago, arrangements were made, through my good friend Rosie who writes Project E(art)h, for the film makers of the documentary “The Cove,” to make a visit to my office. The Cove chronicles (with hidden cameras) the annual dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan. The conversation focused around their movie, which just won an Academy Award for Best Documentary. Watch the trailer here. Animal Planet has plans to base a series around the film.
It’s hard for me to imagine growing up not loving whales and dolphins and wanting to protect them. As a kid, I personally fantasized about seeing dolphins every time I went surfing. We had them on our t-shirts, our board shorts, our notebooks. I finally got the chance to go whale watching for the first time this year in Santa Barbara with the American Cetacean Society. We saw humpbacks and blues and I heard the voice of Scotty from “Star Trek; The Voyage Home” in my head: “Admiral! There be whales here!”
Are you wondering where this all fits in with sustainable food in L.A.? Well, here you go:
The filmmakers from The Cove ran a sting operation right here in Santa Monica at a very high end sushi spot, The Hump. Apparently, The Hump has actually been serving whale meat to diners. Two undercover eaters went to the restaurant and stuck some of the accused meat in a Ziplock baggy and sent it off to be studied by Scott Baker,the associate director of the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University. DNA testing revealed that the meat came from the endangered Sei whale. More undercover eaters were employed and also served whale. It was discovered that the meat may have actually been coming from a Mercedes parked behind The Hump.
Federal officials searched the restaurant Friday and a $20,000 fine may be coming. But wait, there’s more. Heal the Bay president Mark Gold spoke up to the Santa Monica City Council. You can read all about it in his blog, Spouting Off. Here is an excerpt:
Santa Monica City Attorney Marsha Moutrie responded that her office will investigate the illegality of The Hump’s actions at a restaurant located on city property at the airport.The standard lease clause allows the city to terminate a lease in the event that the owners commit a crime, Moutrie said. Also, the city can revoke a business license for illegal activity. Moutrie promised to come back to the city council with the results of the office investigation by the next council meeting in two weeks.
The restaurant may be levied a much higher fine. But there’s even more to this food fight. You may know Mark Gold’s famous brother, Pulitzer Prize winning food writer, Jonathan Gold. What does he think of The Hump? According to Mark, he calls it “gimmicky and weird…Restaurants resort to gimmicks generally because their chefs just aren’t very good.”
Savor that, Hump.
Good Guys, do a victory lap.
If you’d like to learn more about sustainable seafood, visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch.