Why Ron’s fried fish might have had its chips

Ollie’s mum Lorna points out that giving back to society can involve more than money changing hands, because there are other things we can do to be change makers. Ron agrees; indeed, he likes to help others – but is disappointed that his favourite fish and chips are first in the firing line…

Ollie’s mum Lorna looked down at the piece of fried fish on her plate as her husband Ron tucked a napkin into his collar and reached for the ketchup to go with his fish and chips.

“This is very fish shaped,” she observed, “and it’s a small portion.”

Ron was puzzled. “You asked for a small portion, and it’s a fish. What shape would you expect it to be?

“Well, fish shaped, I suppose. But I’ve been reading about sustainable fish, and because this piece is small, and shaped like a fish, you can tell how big it was before it was filleted. And since it’s haddock, we shouldn’t be eating it if it was less than 30 centimeters long. That would mean it might well not be sustainable because it hasn’t been left long enough to mature, and to breed. The size of this fish might be telling us that we’re eating fish faster than stocks can recover. Having a small piece of fish might be good for our health, but less so for the planet.”

Giving back is about more than just money
Ron’s mouth opened and closed, rather like a fish, but at first no sound came out. When he was able to speak again, he observed: “It’s like living with Sherlock Holmes. You’ve been watching the TV cookery programme again; the one with the sustainable fish advert at the end, haven’t you?”

“Never mind the quips, Dr Watson. This is serious,” she said, pointing at him with a chip. “We’ve followed Ollie’s advice about using the Solo Expenses expense tracker app, and it’s good advice. You enjoy being the household’s head expense manager, and that’s a good tool to help you do that. But think about this: it’s helping us to live within our means financially. So why shouldn’t we be trying to live within our means in other ways, like when it comes to the resources we consume to live our lives the way we’ve come to believe we’re entitled to?”

Ron had wanted to enjoy his fish and chips, rather than to listen to a lecture about food security. Before he could think of anything useful to say, Lorna filled the silence.

Giving back
“That’s why the Solo Expenses Giving Back initiative is so good. They’ve sponsored a dolphin, and she’s called Hope. We talk about human rights, but animals have rights too, and we’re in danger of eating her out of house and home, never mind us. How would you feel if that piece of haddock was the last you could ever have, because we’d eaten too much of it? We’re at the top of the food chain, and that gives us responsibilities. Not just for now, but for future generations.”

“Well, I…”

Giving money to charity is to be applauded, but we have to be change makers in other ways. Eating sustainable fish is part of it, so we can be sure there will be some left when Alice and Jack are our age and we’re not here any more,” she said. “You could say that being careful with the way we eat will help others, because by making responsible choices we donate to others. It’s common sense, really.”

“I’m not sure I want this fish any more,” said Ron, glumly.

“Oh yes you do,” said his wife. “If it’s unsustainable, then killing it and not eating it would be even worse than killing it and eating it. But look on the bright side. The next time we eat fish and chips, you can order a large haddock because it’ll have been larger than 30 centimeters when it was caught, and so it’s more likely to be from sustainable stocks – though not necessarily, depending where it’s caught…” She frowned. I just think we need to know more about the food we eat, that’s all…”

Ron brightened momentarily at the mention of a large haddock, but his mood swung back at the prospect of having to ask the woman in the fish and chip shop where the fish had come from. She was bound to give him the name of a fish wholesaler, and that wouldn’t tell him anything useful.

He sighed. “I suppose we could just have the chips. The last time I looked, potatoes were sustainable,” he said.