The world is a crazy place and it seems that Katy Perry and other celebrities have taken the trendiness of acupuncture to a new low. In an attempt to have the freshest possible sushi, diners can now have their fish treated with acupuncture, and Katy has the photos to prove that she’s one of the first. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.
In a method called kaimin katsugyo, live fish are rendered brain dead by strategically placed acupuncture needles. This allows for chefs to slice off choice pieces of the still living animal and for diners to have the absolutely freshest fish possible.
The website for the Montreal restaurant where Katy Perry had her very fresh sushi says that they offer acupuncture-treated fish so that “the trauma of death is avoided”. And the L.A. Fish Company describes the technique euphemistically as placing the fish into “hibernation”. But really, is this about being kind to a fish or being able to offer a unique dining experience? I don’t even know where to begin with how wrong this is, but let me try.
First, rendering an animal brain dead in order to keep it alive right up to the moment you eat it is not about being kind to the animal or avoiding the trauma of death. It’s not about the animal at all, other than much wasabi to serve it with.
Second, while the fish may be fresh, does this blissed out twilight state translate into healthier food? We know that stress hormones are present in the meat of animals that have been treated inhumanely. Who knows what kind of chemical changes are going on in the fish that have been stupified for a couple of days. I’m sure research will follow.
Third, while the technique may be performed with an acupuncture needle, this is not acupuncture. Do not be confused. Acupuncture is a branch of Chinese medicine in which needles are used to stimulate your body’s natural ability to heal itself. It is slow and kind and effective. It is not meant to be a better way to eat fish.
And fourth, please don’t think that your acupuncturist can render you brain dead with a carefully placed needle. But if you’re worried about that, make sure the person treating you with acupuncture needles is a licensed acupuncturist (with at least 3,000 hours of training), and not a fishmonger.