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I was ethically opposed to the dinner my mom served Add to ...

The question

The last time we visited my parents' house for dinner, my mother tried serving us Chilean sea bass. Chilean sea bass is a severely threatened species. My fiancée and I were horrified! Things got so ugly between my mom and me that we had no choice but to leave. I guess my mother's finally gotten over it, since we're invited over there again. We were right about the fish, weren't we? And what should we do now?

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The answer

It all depends whether she served the Chilean sea bass out of obliviousness - i.e., she didn't know that from a sustainability perspective it's roughly equivalent to serving trillium-encrusted baby peregrine falcon wings - or if she served it only because the falcon wings at the butcher's were looking a little tired that day. If it was merely a case of ignorance, you probably could just have eaten the stuff (it was already dead; not eating it doesn't help the species) and as kindly, but firmly as possible explained the importance of avoiding threatened marine animals from then on. It wouldn't hurt to give her one of the easy-to-use wallet guides to buying fish from seachoice.org. But if she knew how despicable the Chilean sea bass fishery is but chose to serve it anyway, you were right not to eat it. And you'd probably be wise to let her know before the next dinner that you're morally opposed to albino rhinoceros sashimi, too.

Chris Nuttall-Smith is a food writer and restaurant columnist. Have an entertaining dilemma? E-mail style@globeandmail.com.

Follow on Twitter: @cnutsmith

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