We tend to not think of something as mundane as food as being controversial, but controversial foods are incredibly common, and might even be on the menu at your favorite restaurant.
Foods may be considered controversial for many different reasons. Some foods are unsustainable, meaning that the population or supply can’t be replaced as quickly as it’s being reduced. Others stir dissent for ethical or cultural reasons: Certain animals are simply not commonly thought of as food sources, and the consumption of them makes us uncomfortable. Also, some people take issue with what may be perceived as inhumane treatment of animals prior to slaughter.
Choosing what to eat is an intensely personal decision, and we’re right to feel strongly about what we do and don’t allow on our plates. If we take issue with a certain type of food, nobody should be allowed to force us to eat it. There’s a big difference between foods that we don’t eat because we don’t like the way that they taste and foods that we don’t eat on moral or ethical grounds. For example, uni, or sea urchin roe, is incredibly divisive because of its flavor and texture, but nobody would call it controversial.
So read on to learn about 10 of the most controversial foods on earth, and why they’re considered controversial. Again, it’s up to you whether you elect to abstain from eating these foods, or whether you decide to celebrate your position atop the food chain by eating as many of them as possible. But before eating anything, you should always take a moment to consider where it came from, and know whether or not there might be reasons to think twice about consuming it.
Beluga caviar, from the Beluga sturgeon, is the finest and most expensive type of caviar on earth, selling for upwards of $4,000 per pound. But don’t try to find it in the United States. In 2005, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service banned the import of Beluga caviar from the Caspian and Black Seas, which is where the fish is usually found, and the killing of the rare Mediterranean Beluga sturgeon is illegal. The Beluga sturgeon is critically endangered, as each sturgeon can take up to 20 years to reach maturity.
The Atlantic bluefin is one of the most prized fish in Japanese cuisine, and the largest ones can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Because of the voracious appetite for sushi in Japan and elsewhere, bluefin stocks have dwindled rapidly, and it’s chronically overfished and unsustainable. However, consumption of the fish has yet to decline, especially in Japan.
This article was originally published March 19, 2015.