Image by Bryan Bruchman via Flickr
Cannery Row is a clean, touristy restaurant district now (even though Pacific sardines are coming back), and the last sardine cannery in Maine is closing this week. It seems there are no more sardines being canned in the United States, which will disappoint any locavores — not that we have many choices for local fish up here in Denver.
So, where do tinned sardines come from?
Checking the labels of the tins in my pantry, I found:
- Crown Prince (which we eat most often, because local health food chain Vitamin Cottage carries 'em) imports their fish from Morocco.
- Season (second most often, because Whole Foods carries 'em) gets theirs from Scotland.
- Bar Harbor kippers & herring are produced in Canada.
- Calmex actually is from Mexico.
- Alsterior herring fillets proudly say "product of Germany."
- Alshark is a Moroccan brand
- Victorias is a Phillipine brand
- and this can of Pacific saury in miso sauce may be from Taiwan; I'm not sure.
So, mostly Atlantic — but all over. Wikipedia tells us (without reference) that Morocco is the sardine capital of the world, producing 600,000 tons each year.
And to top it all off, there may be no such thing as a sardine. Depending on the region, tins of sardines may contain sprats (also known as brisling), small herring, or pilchards (which may also be a catch-all term for a variety of other species.) I think that'll have to be another article.