retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

While we’re big fans of transparency here on MNB, sometimes there is such a thing as too much information.

The New York Times reports that Hawaii recently passed, and the California legislature currently is considering, a law that would ban the sale and possession of shark fins - which would for all practical purposes eliminate the ability of Chinese restaurants to serve shark fin soup, described as “a steamy glutinous broth” that for centuries has been “a symbol of virility, wealth and power.”

Here’s where the “too much information” part comes in. The Times reports something that a lot of people may not know, that shark finning is “a brutal, bloody practice of the global trade in which the fins are typically hacked off a live shark, leaving it to die slowly as it sinks to the bottom of the sea ... As the once-ceremonial dish becomes more accessible, up to 73 million sharks are being killed a year.”

However, the Times notes that the legislative actions have highlighted what it calls “the politics of soup,” putting on display “a generational divide between eco-conscious children and their tradition-bound elders.”

Now, sharks are not creatures that ordinarily generate a lot of sympathy; Jaws saw to that. (Though, to be fair, I’ve felt sorry over the years for the sharks that have had to live with Jaws 3D and Jaws: The Revenge.)

But it probably is a pretty good bet that over the years, a lot of people ordered and enjoyed shark fin soup without knowing precisely how it is made. The price of transparency is that our eyes are opened to the realities of the world around us, and we actually have to take responsibility for the things we sell, buy and consume.

Even sharks.
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