Looking for Sustainable Fast Food? Sometimes It's Where You Least Expect It

Rachel Tepper Paley
February 13, 2014

If you’re environmentally conscious and occasionally eat fast food, Long John Silver’s may be your best bet. Yep, the seafood chain that the Center for Science in the Public Interest lambasted last year for serving “the worst restaurant meal in America” is going public with its sustainability efforts in a new ad campaign. 

The campaign includes three TV spots—”Methane,” “Marinated Pork,” and “Final Frontier”—that all begin with a thinly-veiled dig at the unsustainable aspects of other meat industries (such as beef and pork). Watch them all here.

"Our fish has always been sustainable, and we really haven’t told that story sufficiently to our customers in the past," Long John Silver’s chief marketing officer Charles St. Clair told us. "All of our fish is wild-caught. They come from viable, sustainable fisheries from the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans.”

St. Clair said the majority of the chain’s fish, much of it Alaskan pollock and cod, comes from the suppliers Trident Seafoods and American Seafoods Groups, which both claim to follow strict fishing guidelines set by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service. Attempts to reach NOAA for confirmation were not immediately successful.

For the record, Center for Science in the Public Interest’s grievance with Long John Silver’s was trans fats, and the company responded by scrubbing them from its menu. And although other fast food outfits have made sustainability claims, Long John Silver’s may actually be able to deliver. 

"Fishing, I think, is unique," St. Clair said. "When you do talk about sustainability, there are very clear [government] standards on that.” In contrast, there aren’t clear global sustainability standards for beef, which presents a challenge to mainstream burger chains.

But trans fats or no, sustainable fish or no, a standard two-fish combo (which you can get with fries, two hushpuppies, and a Pepsi) still clocks in at 1080 calories. Ordering it might be good for the ocean, but not necessarily for you.