It seems like "Watch what you eat" is good advice, even for the President of the United States. President Barack Obama has been getting some flack from environmental organization Greenpeace after photos surfaced of him dining in popular sushi restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo during a recent state visit.
Tokyo was the first stop in a recent Asia-Pacific tour that Obama made in order to bolster US relations in the region. However, the first photos that came out of the trip were of Obama dining with American Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the world famous sushi joint. Sukiyabashi Jiro and chef/owner Jiro Ono gained international acclaim when the three Michelin star restaurant was featured in the 2011 documentary "Jiro Dreams of Sushi."
The restaurant does not have a fixed menu and sushi offerings depend on what is available fresh from the market each day. The menu consistently has varieties of tuna nigiri sushi taken from different parts of the fish. It is unclear if there was in fact an endangered blue fin tuna served to President Obama but Greenpeace is convinced.
"As a role model, people will naturally follow you. The global appetite for bluefin tuna has destroyed the species, pushing it to the brink of extinction. It needs to be protested. Greenpeace encourages President Obama to make responsible food choices whenever he travels, in hopes that others will do the same," said Casson Trenor, Greenpeace's Oceans Campaigner.
All three varieties of bluefin tuna are considered endangered. Atlantic and Southern bluefin tuna are on the list of officially endangered species while Pacific bluefin tuna populations have reportedly been reduced by 96% due to overfishing.
The scarcity of bluefin tuna has led to increasingly higher prices all over the world. In this particular restaurant, a meal of twenty pieces of various kinds of sushi starts at approximately US $300. Prices may rise depending on the ingredients tat are available for the day.
Michelle Obama was also recently criticized by PETA and was asked to use plastic eggs for the White House Easter egg roll.
The White House refused to issue a statement about the Greenpeace protest and also refused to confirm or deny if in fact bluefin tuna was served to the President.