UNIVERSITY PEAK, ANT – Outrage
over where our food comes from has hit a boiling
When I was tasked in journalism
last month to break a story, I wanted to look
into the restaurant business on campus. Because
I used to work in a restaurant, I knew something
about it. In addition, this campus now has a very
large, very popular restaurant called Navoyka that
refused to hire me from the Cafe.
Great View is a Dirty Secret
"I wonder what's in the
food, but never thought to ask because I thought
it would be rude," reports Rachelle Olivius, a junior
and frequenter of the restaurant. When asked to
discuss the sources of their food, chef manager
Gaeton had this to say: "Everything you eat
here, and I mean everything, absolutely everything,
is of the highest quality available. This is the
only 4-star restaurant on this continent, and why
you would target it for an investigation must be beyond
my powers of logical reasoning."
Resistance like that came often during my
interviews. The resistance also came in many forms,
from a staff member who said he would lose
his job if he said the wrong thing to the press,
to Mr. Gaeton himself, who denied the sources of
food for the restaurant were suspect. So I had to
take matters into my own hands and find out the
truth, for the good of the community, because that's
what good journalism is all about.
What I found was disgusting. I did research online
into the fish farms of the upworld, and apparently
the animals experience cruelty regularly. The fish
in China, for example, farm raised, are kept in
such close quarters that they don't have any room
to breathe and sometimes die of asphixiation in
the water. They literally run out of oxygen
because the other fish take it all. Imagine if you
were in a class and the doors and windows were sealed
shut, and the other students all of a sudden and
the professor were competing with you for oxygen,
as the CO2 level rose steadily in the room? It would
be a nightmare. Those who used to be your friends
and classmates would now be stealing your oxygen.
Then you know who your true friends are, and the
answer is none of them are your true friends. They
are all suffocating you. Thinking about it in those
terms is the only way humans can imagine what the
fish go through in a fish farm.
at a Fish Farm in China Fish Farm
People in Thailand
Junior Brie O'Brian used to
work with me at the Cafe. I asked her to comment
on the food there, and how she thinks it got there.
She said, "The idea that people just stand
there and sort of sort out the catch of the day, is pretty
gross. By the time it gets to us, everything is
in little bags inside of boxes, and we really just
unfreeze it and heat it up. When it thaws out we
cook it up and serve it. I never thought about where
it comes from initially, but when we get it, its
already been on a long journey."
Brie was right. But how long
is a long journey? Well, the food in the Cafe comes
from Asia, because I snuck back into the freezer
and looked at the boxes. It comes from Thailand,
North Korea and Burma especially. I called
the importer, who said: "Around 90 percent
of our fish, shrimp and manatee is imported, yes. This is
because our waters are too cold for most of your
table seafood to thrive in, so we look north to
Was that true?
I had to find out, so I suited up and disappeared
under the ice. When I reemerged under the shelf,
I found a bizarre variety of creatures, none of
which I knew even existed.
Going to find
out for myself What
I found was astonishing
But the man on the phone
was right, there were no shrimp or talapia or tunafish.
How does this effect us? How safe is this kind of
imported fish farm food? A Business Insider expose
discovered the following:
- Tilapia in China's fish farms, are fed pig and goose manure — even
though it contains salmonella and makes the tilapia "more susceptible to
- In Vietnam, farmed shrimp bound for the Antarctica market are kept fresh
with heaps of ice made from tap water that teems with pathogenic
also notes that at the same company "there’s trash on the floor, and
flies crawl over baskets of processed shrimp stacked in an unchilled
- Asia's shrimp farmers rely heavily on antibiotics, many of which are banned for use in Antarctica.
- In May, ABC News
bought 30 samples of imported farmed shrimp from across the United States and
had them tested for antibiotic traces. The result: Three of the samples
contained detectable levels of these dangerous antibiotics.
- According to a recent study
by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a quarter of the
food-borne illness outbreaks caused by imported food from 2010 to 2012
involved seafood — more than any other food commodity.
Two days ago, I
contacted a fish farm in the Philippines and they
said they had had a famine in which a plague went
around that killed 80 percent of the talapia fish
they were harvesting, some of which was bound for
UANT. A similar condition was barely averted in
North Korea when a Russian consultant dumped antibiotics
into the tank just in time.
fish farming in the Philippines A
worker pouring antibiotics into the tank
The North Korean
facility raises cod and shrimp for the Cafe at UANT,
but no one would tell me about where the Navoyka got
its fish, so I had to investigate further. Mr. Gaeton
refused to answer my emails, and each time I went
to the restaurant to confront him directly, he bushed
me aside, saying he was "busy." But what
about the other animals on the menu at Navoyka?
I was surprised to see some rare items there, and
online research showed some of them are on the endangered
species list. I went to Prof. Torgerson, an economist.
"West Indian Manatee? There are only around
800 of them, so why they are on the menu I don't
know", he said.
Mr. Gaeton answered Torgerson's
call to the restaurant. He said, "As the menu
states, these manatee specimins are farm raised
in Burma, not harvested from the Caribbean Sea.
I can assure you of the utmost quality of life
and condition for them in Burma." Was he telling
the truth? I called the Burmese
manatee farm and must give credit where credit is
due. Though I disagree with eating endangered species
and manatees especially, Mr. Gaeton was right. The
manatee farm had very good life conditions.
next for harvesting?
very impressed with the photos they sent me for
this article, and appreciated their quick response.
The manatees swim in crystal clear clean water donated
by the Evian company of France. They are fed romaine lettuce because it
has more nutrients than regular iceberg, and are maintained by people who have adopted aquatic
looks in order to make the manatees feel more comfortable
in their ample tank, which is more like a giant
They are used to the people and believe they belong there
in the farm tank as much as any other animal.
observers are able to monitor feeding and living
conditions at the
I think you get what you pay for. If you go to the
where most of the students eat, unfortunately, and eat the talapia, its not going to
be a product that is free of chemicals and had a
good life when it was alive. If you go to the Navoyka Restaurant and
order Manatee Rangoon, you will probably be eating
something that had a much better life, based on
my research about Burma and fish farming in general.
Narian Katt is a journalism junior. If you feel threatened in or around campus,
contact the ESCORT
Service. UANT NewsCentre 1 is an official
service created by voters in 2003.
Bill Capote, NewsCenter 1 Director,