Caviar is one of the world’s most costly meals. It is cherished and enjoyed by nobles all over the world, selling for much to $35,000 per pound. However, it is an acquired taste. It turns out that caviar wasn’t always so expensive. Sturgeon species were so widespread in the United States in the nineteenth century that caviar was allegedly given away for free in saloons like bar nuts. In Europe, fisherman fed the eggs to their pigs or left them to rot on the beach. What went wrong?
Caviar, like good champagne, doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. This isn’t caviar, for example. To acquire the actual thing, you’ll need sturgeon eggs. In North America, Europe, and Asia, there are 27 different species. But not for much longer.
Arne Ludwig: In this situation, sturgeon will go extinct as a result of overfishing and habitat destruction by humans.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) included 18 species of sturgeon on its Red List of Threatened Species in 2010, making them the most endangered group of animals on the planet. These kinds of lists, on the other hand, are bittersweet. On the one hand, they may be able to assist safeguard sturgeon populations from further decrease.
On the other side, the more valuable caviar becomes, the more we crave it. This is explained using a simple economic concept. It’s known as the rarity value thesis, and it explains how “rarity improves the item’s worth.” Sturgeon may weigh thousands of pounds and generate hundreds of pounds of roe at once. A beluga sturgeon that weighed 2,520 pounds and produced 900 pounds of roe holds the world record. She’d be worth almost half a million dollars now.
These freshwater fish and their eggs were not scarce until the turn of the twentieth century. Pollution tainted their streams, and dams upstream cut off their breeding habitats. They were overfished for their flesh and roe because they had nowhere to breed. Furthermore, depending on the species, it takes 8-20 years for a female to reach sexual maturity.
She has the ability to generate millions of eggs at once, but only one will survive to adulthood. Finally, the sturgeon population couldn’t keep up with demand, and their prized eggs became the crown jewels of the high-end culinary world. Caviar imports and exports are heavily restricted in the United States today, which contributes to its high cost.
Deborah Keane: People forget that each and every egg, each and every one of these eggs, is hand-picked. Keep in mind that we’re dealing with a threatened raw seafood species. As a result, it’s essentially the same as eating and dealing with edible elephant tusks. It’s that tightly controlled.
As a result, sturgeon farms now produce the bulk of caviar.
Deborah Keane: I had no idea that all wild caviar will be prohibited on the earth by 2011. When I first started, there were only six farms in the world producing caviar, and that was in 2004. There are now 2,000 farms in the area.
The Kaluga Queen farm in China, in instance, produces 35 percent of the world’s caviar. There, caviar is gathered using the traditional Russian and Iranian method of killing the fish and then removing the eggs. Other farms are experimenting with an alternative method that does not require killing the fish. It’s known as stripping.
A hormone is administered into the fish, which causes them to release eggs. Farmers have been doing this for a long time, although not for caviar, but to increase the number of fish they can produce. People didn’t start preserving this stuff and marketing it as caviar until lately.
Dmitrijs Tracuks: The most important thing is that the fish survives. Because you work so quickly, you have a negligible effect on the fish. You remove the fish from the water and place it in a specific holding area. The fish has already begun to spawn, so all you have to do now is push on the belly, massage the belly, and the caviar will just come out.
The concept of no-kill caviar is admirable, but it has yet to gain traction. In any case, the presence of caviar farms provides an opportunity for the wild sturgeon population to recover. But it is primarily up to us whether or not this occurs.