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Bamboo Sushi Is the Most Sustainable Sushi Restaurant in America Sustainable Sushi Means Putting Fish Back in the Ocean and These Guys Are Actually Doing It

Our taste for tuna rolls is depleting the oceans, so Bamboo Sushi wants to add new fish to the sea for every one you eat.

"In a year, we will go through 4,000 pounds of albacore, 5,500 of salmon, 3,500 pounds of tuna..." Kristofor Lofgren's busy sushi restaurant uses incredible amounts of fish. "It's probably eight tons of seafood that we serve, so we feel it’s our jobs to make sure we have a positive impact." To compensate for that drain on the ocean's resources, Lofgren wants to add all that and more back into the ocean, so every ounce of spicy tuna roll you eat puts twice as much live tuna back in the sea.


Lofrgren says his restaurant, Bamboo Sushi in Portland, Oregon, is the most sustainable seafood restaurant in the world. It's a big claim, but he makes a strong case, citing his 4.5 "blue fish" rating on Fish to Fork's five-point sustainability scale. Only two other Japanese style sushi* restaurants in the world, both chains in the U.K., can boast the same. Lofgren has also racked up certifications from the Marine Stewardship Council and the Green Restaurant Association, and operates as a certified B-Corporation.

According to a 2011 report from the U.N's Food and Agriculture Organization, "32 percent of world fish stocks are estimated to be overexploited, depleted or recovering and need to be urgently rebuilt." With conscious consumers starting to take note, Lofgren's strategy is to overwhelm them with proof that his seafood is actually harvested properly, because, frankly, sushi often isn't. And even when it's not from an illegal vessel or an overfished area, there's still massive waste: As much as half of all fish caught never even make it to the table.

But convincing customers this is the least bad sushi spot isn't enough. "Now it is time to take this to the next level," Lofgren proclaims. "A business cannot truly say it is sustainable unless it is doing something in a direct way to recreate the natural resources or products it is exploiting... in our case, the oceans and fish."

He can't build more oceans, but he can protect more of what we have, and in the process boost fish populations. Oceans make up over 70 percent of our planet, yet only 1 percent of them are Marine Protected Areas, Lofgren says. "We are going to take a portion of every dollar spent at Bamboo Sushi, and work with the Nature Conservancy, WWF, Monterey Bay Aquarium... [and others] to buy those areas of ocean, turning them into 'fish banks' for research." And eventually breeding.

The idea is to keep the areas where the fish breed protected. In banking terms, the fish stock in that protected area is the principal. Then, Lofrgen says, we can live off of the interest, because hatching and spawning in these areas can multiply tenfold.

Lofgren declares, "if you never meet us or come into our restaurant, we still want our business to have a positive impact on you." And he wants you to know it—that's part of his brand after all. He plans to trademark "consumer regeneration," the idea that consumption can restore the environment rather than detract from it.

Bamboo Sushi is about to officially buy their first marine protected area. It will be 100 square kilometers, about 405,000 acres, in the Bahamas. Planning for the second one, closer to home in the Pacific Northwest, is already underway.

Some of the money for those preservation purchases comes from built-in revenues, but there's also a clever scheme to solicit add-on donations from diners. You can contribute any amount you want at the end of the meal, it’s right there on the dessert menu, just tack it on to your bill and swipe away.

If you donate $2,000—the cost of tagging a shark with a satellite locator—you can name it, and then track it online to see where it swims. And, through the University of Miami, if you donate more than $4,000, Bamboo Sushi will fly you out to Florida to tag a shark yourself. The price was $3,000 but too many people were signing up. Offering that kind of experiential engagement with conservation is proven to increase donations over time. It doesn't hurt brand loyalty to the restaurant either.

“We’ve found that the more we add to [our sustainability activities] the better we do. What we're doing is so different than what anyone else is doing … the press, the connection, the partnerships ... it will more than pay for the additional costs,” Lofrgen says.

All this devotion to mother earth, though, doesn't mean this place is all hippied out. “The restaurant doesn’t look sustainable. It’s still sexy, fun. So you still want to go in it," he says. "It’s not shoved down your throat,” even if they do use sustainably harvested teak chopsticks.

So far the plan is working. Bamboo Sushi has plans to open two new locations, another in Portland later this year, then one in San Francisco. "We want to be the next PF Changs, or Nobu," he says, but with a commitment to sustainability.

If you're not planning to pass through Portland anytime soon but still want to make sure your special rolls are doing the least damage to the planet possible, download the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch pocket sushi guide or this buyer's guide to sustainable seafood from the Marine Conservation Society.

*Phrasing in earlier version of this post implied that only two restaurants of any kind have a 4.5 rating on Fish to Fork.

Articles

Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.





Culture
via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

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Politics

The healthcare systems in the United States and the United Kingdom couldn't be more different.

The UK's National Health Service is the largest government-run healthcare system in the world and the US's is largest private sector system.

Almost all essential health services in the UK are free, whereas in America cost can vary wildly based on insurance, co pays and what the hospitals and physicians choose to charge.

A medical bill in the US

One of the largest differences is cost. The average person in the UK spends £2,989 ($3915) per year on healthcare (most of which is collected through taxes), whereas the average American spends around $10,739 a year.

So Americans should obviously be getting better care, right? Well, the average life expectancy in the UK is higher and infant mortality rate is lower than that in the US.

RELATED: The World Health Organization declares war on the out of control price of insulin

Plus, in the U.S., only 84% of people are covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Sixteen percent of the population are forced to pay out of pocket.

In the UK, everyone is covered unless they are visiting the country or an undocumented resident.

Prescription drugs can cost Americans an arm and a leg, but in the UK, prescriptions or either free or capped at £8.60 ($11.27).

via Wikimedia Commons

The one drawback to the NHS system is responsiveness. In the UK people tend to wait longer for inessential surgeries, doctor's appointments, and in emergency rooms. Whereas, the US is ranked as the most responsive country in the world.

RELATED: Alarmingly high insulin prices are forcing Americans to flock to Canada to buy the drug

The New York Times printed a fair evaluation of the UK's system:

The service is known for its simplicity: It is free at the point of use to anyone who needs it. Paperwork is minimal, and most patients never see a bill. … No one needs to delay medical treatment until he or she can afford it, and virtually everyone is covered. …

According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States spent 17.2 percent of its economic output on health care in 2016, compared with 9.7 percent in Britain. Yet Britain has a higher life expectancy at birth and lower infant mortality.

Citizens in each country have an interesting perspective on each other's healthcare systems. UK citizens think it's inhumane for Americans have to pay through the nose when they're sick or injured. While Americans are skeptical of socialist medicine.

A reporter from Politics Joe hit the streets of London and asked everyday people what they think Americans pay for healthcare and they were completely shocked.

Health