Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Will the Real Grouper Please Stand Up
If you live in Florida, or have vacationed there you would know that the Grouper Sandwich is the default State meal. From Gainesville to Key West you would have a hard time not finding the ubiquitous selection on the menu of most restaurants. Fried, blackened or grilled millions have been served to locals and unsuspecting tourists alike. The big dirty secret is finally out in the open. The chances that the sandwich you or anyone else ate was local grouper -- slim to none. It turns out that most of these establishments were buying frozen "grouper", and that some was an imported species of grouper. At least that is what they thought they were getting. It was more likely that the frozen fish was either a box of mixed species, with some Asian grouper included, or it could have easily been basa, panga, or some other mild white flesh fish, even..gulp tilapia. So who is to blame? The Restaurant for trying to sell cheap Asian grouper? The supplier for not verifying species? The consumer for being cheap? And those are just questions to ask if you want to assume no malevolence. The truth might be even worse, with allegations of fraud and conspiracy. The problem is that real gulf grouper is scarce and expensive. Some of the good guy restaurants are trying to serve Real Florida Grouper, but the menu cost needs to be substantially higher than their competition. For more information see USA Today.