An Interview with a Pirate

by Casson Trenor

October 8, 2009

This exclusive interview was conducted by Greenpeace correspondant Ashley Mirabile, and is cross-posted from the Greenpeace community blog.

The popular grocery store, Trader Joe’s, known for stocking its shelves full of affordable products with natural and organic ingredients, has dodged many attempts by Greenpeace USA to discuss its less than satisfactory seafood buying policy. Despite the company’s commendable evasive techniques, they have failed to silence deranged spokesman/ deviant pirate, Traitor Joe, who leaked some truly embarrassing seafood secrets in an exclusive interview with an official Greenpeace volunteer this week.

Traitor Joe, who has lately been rumored to frequent The Reef in order to feed his growing addiction to karaoke and the age-old pirate tradition of gluttonous drinking, was discovered mid-musical number on stage in a state of discombobulation Monday evening. The intoxicated pirate, whose already encumbered sight due to the necessity of an eye patch appeared to be blurred, spilled a flask of rum down a ragged t-shirt bearing the Trader Joe’s insignia. His speech was slurred and his voice was hoarse from the repetition of his favored melodic verse:


"Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
We’re shady, deceitful, so we can make loot,
Eat up me ‘earties, yo ho.
We peddle red-list fish, and don’t give a hoot,
Eat up me ‘earties, yo ho."

When he stepped down from the stage and sat back down at his regular stool at the bar, Traitor Joe appeared to be loose-lipped with the unconcerned bartender about certain red-list fish species that have made it to the frozen aisles in various Trader Joe’s locations.

There are 22 species included in the Greenpeace Seafood Red List and according to Greenpeace, "they have a very high risk of being sourced from unsustainable fisheries or unsustainable aquaculture operations."

Greenpeace surveys have found that Trader Joe’s sells 15 of these red-list seafoods including orange roughy, Alaska pollock, and Greenland halibut.

Joe, in his state of inebriation, fortunately failed to recognize his interested bar companion to be a member of Greenpeace and so did not bother to relent in his speech when approached by aforementioned environmental activist.

"Arghhh, Matey. My favorite snack is Trader Joe’s lightly breaded fish sticks," Joe said. "They’ve got a secret ingredient in them that makes me think them a tasty treat. It’s Alaskan pollock!" 

For the last five years, survival of juvenile pollock has been recorded as below average in the Gulf of Alaska, Aleutian Chain and Bogoslof area due to overfishing. Pollock fisheries may also be responsible for the rapid population decline of endangered Steller sea lions and northern fur seals.

"But you’d never know that the ingredients in me favorite Trader Joe’s products were unsustainable ’cause of our ambiguous packaging," Joe said.

Trader Joe typically labels its products to help consumers purchase vegan, gluten-free or other diet-specific foods, but the labels on their seafood products inadequately advise customers who would otherwise commit to sustainable shopping.


Joe, smacking his lips in delicious delight, continued to list various other seemingly innocent Trader Joe products such as the "Wild Sashimi Grade Ahi" which contains longline-caught yellowfin tuna, and "Trader Joe’s Seasoned Turbot" which is actually the bycatch-heavy Greenland halibut. Both of these are red-list species.

"I just wish all ’em darn activists would stop sending those bloody Singing Billie the Chilean sea bass telegrams," Joe said. "They be gettin’ on me last nerve!"

Traitor Joe then abandoned the conversation and approached the stage once again to commence in singing his own rendition of "Row Row Row Your Boat."

The interview, however brief, gave insight into Trader Joe’s unsustainable seafood buying policy and should encourage Trader Joe customers to continue to put pressure on the popular grocery store.

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