The MSC’s #TurnTheTide campaign celebrates the collective impact achieved by 75 MSC certified fish and chip shops across the UK and Ireland. By visiting these fish and chip shops, buying the quintessential British takeaway and sharing your experience online you can help promote their fantastic efforts and encourage others to help #TurnTheTide with us!
George Clark from MSC sets the scene and recounts his fish and chips journey. Since he began working with the Marine Stewardship Council he has seen certified sustainable fish sold with the MSC’s little blue label adopted in chippies all over the country.
My fish and chips renaissance: how to fall in love with fish and chips again and save the oceans at the same time…
I had always liked fish and chips. I remember holidays in north Cornwall, on a break from the sand sprinkled pasties on Constantine beach; picking up cod and chips from Fryer Tucks in St Merryn and taking it back to our tent to eat under gas light. What I actually remember more than the food itself, which is highly unusual these days, is the pick-up and the long queues; in the late summer evening warmth, basked in the incandescent lights of this mecca of a chippy… for me at least.
Fairly recently though I did fall out of love with our national dish; wasn’t too bothered about it as a result of being excited about other foods. And when I did have it, ordered in half-baked ‘gastro pubs’ where the peas are bright green and not actually proper mushy peas but garden peas; I was frequently disappointed.
Now though I consider myself somewhat of an aficionado and have fallen back in love with this heavyweight of British cuisine… That’s mainly due to the volume of fish and chips I have eaten since we really embarked on our mission of ensuring MSC is wholeheartedly adopted by the great industry we have here in the UK.
Details, details, details
In doing so, I’ve discovered that the level of attention that goes into fish, chips and mushy peas (or curry sauce if you fancy) at the shops that I’ve visited over the past two and a half years, is astounding. I now literally can’t get enough fish and chips and so long as the level of attention is there, relish sampling regional and shop-specific approaches to batter, potato crispiness and use of rice cones (if you don’t know that one you’re clearly not an expert).
I don’t actually have a preferred style or method of fish and chips because if I did I think I’d likely get bored like I used to when I’d make my own sandwiches every day. Even now I’m so methodical with the sandwich that it always turns out exactly the same every time and I end up not enjoying it. Some people prefer cod to haddock, thinner batter to thick, mushy peas over curry sauce. I honestly like all of these things and will gladly eat whatever I’m served, so long as it’s been given the care and attention this iconic dish richly deserves.
I went to Yorkshire: all haddock, all completely different but all completely brilliant.
I went to Devon and Cornwall: some served hake, some even lobster, again all brilliant.
Sustainable fish in the UK’s fish and chip shops
The delivery of our national dish is given so much scrutiny by these shops that it’s not surprising how well these particular businesses have adopted the concept of sustainable fish. Where the majority of MSC fish is sold in supermarkets and by large businesses who have the wherewithal and resources to implement complex traceability systems and meet the MSC standards, these humble chippies have changed the game, matching the commitments of big business. They’ve brought fully certified sustainably (and traceable remember) fish to our street corners at one of our favourite takeaways. This is no mean feat. They have truly started turning the tide where other operators in their line of work have not made the same commitments, and that’s not just chippies by the way. It is a truly remarkable achievement and that’s why MSC is so keen to celebrate and pour praise on this outstanding movement that the 75 represent. Custodians of the national dish and custodians of the oceans.
“Would you like salt and vinegar?”
“Yes please… again and again and again.”