I've often wondered about the sustainability of that favorite Passover fish, the gefilte. So I decided to do a little research by consulting the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch. Their pocket guides, web site and mobile apps help people make choices that promote healthy oceans by recommending which seafood items are “Best Choices,” “Good Alternatives” and ones to avoid. Listed in alphabetical order between the Flounder and Halibut, the Gefilte disappointingly merits a "Feh" (equivalent to a "Meh" if you're a Gentile).
Why the “Feh or Meh” rating? Whether net-trawled or store-caught, each method of gefilte fishing has sustainability problems. With the trawling method, the gefilte nets are dragged along the sea floor, uprooting the gefilte’s habitat, leading to the expulsion of the gefiltes from their homeland. The nets also collect everything in their path, including unwanted species like shellfish, which are not kosher and contaminate the gefilte. And while many gefiltes have been relocated to a contained area in either jelled or clear waters in Florida, store-caught gefilte season peaks in April, leaving store shelves empty the rest of the year.
To combat these issues, scientists at Monsanto are working on a genetically modified gefilte that has been engineered to reproduce year-round while repelling shellfish. By inserting flounder genes into the gefilte's DNA, it is said the new Geflounder® will be approved in time for next year's Passover festivities with no further testing. Gefilte fishery executives are hoping this will at least upgrade the gefilte from a “Feh or Meh” to a “Bleh.”