Walk through the streets of Manhattan and you will quickly find that it is impossible to travel more than two or three blocks in any direction without running into a sushi restaurant. Yet as recently as the 1980’s, sushi was a rare, exotic, foreign food. How did it become the popular, hip, delicacy that it is today in such a short period of time? Theodore Bestor’s article, “How Sushi Went Global” discusses the international market for tuna, and describes the long journey each tuna takes, from fishing boats across the world to loading docks where it is assessed and bid on by experts, shipped halfway across the globe before being cut, prepared, and cooked, and arriving on someone’s plate. It’s no simple, local, operation that you may find in almost any other cuisine. Considering how hard it is to get tuna, you’d think that there would be a far less consumed food, yet that does not hold true at all.
Sushi rose in popularity in the U.S. in spite of the difficulty of getting good sushi due to a combination of many factors. Taste in foreign culture is often regarded as a sign of class, and sushi consumption increased as a result of the taste for it spreading down from the “top of society”. Despite the economic and environmental costs of the long journey of the tuna fish, its high price to consumers only make it appear more of an extravagant food. Should the negative effects of sushi consumption be considered- overfishing, the energy required to catch, ship, freeze, and store these fish, as well as the dangers of mercury poisoning- it is remarkable that it gets consumed as much as it does.