Caviar Star Fact Check #1: Things to know about caviar

Let's get straight to it. There are many articles on the internet regarding the news, history and "facts" of the gourmet food world. Many are well researched and provide factual information, but others make misleading and sometimes outlandish claims, either by mistake due to carelessness, or on purpose to deceive those interested in caviar and specialty products. In a industry that has a reputation for providing poor information, mislabeling product, and cheating customers to make the extra dollar, it is more important than ever to educate consumers on what is real versus what is not.

Here at Caviar Star we are dedicated to our work, as well as to the gourmet food products we offer. More than anything we strive to be fair and open with our customers, showing transparency in all aspects of our business. We also want anyone buying caviar and specialties to be knowledgeable about such quality food products. Thus, we have now set out upon the world of journalism to correct bad information, debunk myths and bring you the real facts about caviar and gourmet foods to help empower you as a consumer.

For our first Caviar Star Fact Check, we found a popular article going around called 10 Things to Know about Caviar. No offense to the the author or the newsletter itself for publishing a harmless article, but we noticed some of the information presented is incorrect, misleading or more opinion than fact. Below, we took each one of the 10 "facts" or things to know about caviar and investigated them for credibility.

1. "It can only be called caviar if it comes from sturgeon, a fin fish—if it comes from scaled fish (salmon or trout, for example) it’s considered roe."

FACT CHECK: This can be considered important to know based on the traditional definition of caviar, but there are two discrepancies. (a) Sturgeons have scales. "Its scales are classified as “ganoid”, which means that they are covered with ganoin (similar in texture to fingernails) and cannot be removed without tearing the skin (Chicago Rabbinical Council). (b) The traditional definition, as maintained by most of the rest of the world, reserves the word "caviar" for roe that comes solely from fish of the Acipenseridae family, also known as sturgeon. The combination of unfertilized sturgeon eggs and salt creates the delicacy known as caviarCaviar in the USA is defined as the pickled roe of sturgeon or other large fish, eaten as a delicacy. In our country, we are allowed to label any salt-cured fish roe as caviar, no matter what fish it comes from.

2. "It is illegal to capture sturgeon in the wild and harvest its eggs because all sturgeon species, like Beluga, are on the endangered list. You can only get this type of premium caviar from farms."

FACT CHECK: Very misleading and not quite true. Although most of the sturgeon caviar in the world is regulated by governments across the globe, not all sturgeon species are endangered and some are still legal to capture in the wild. Caviar Star receives legally harvested, wild-caught hackleback (American Sturgeon) from sustainable fisheries on the Mississippi river. Hackleback is considered vulnerable, not endangered, and fishing for the species in the wild is very closely monitored by the federal government. (Sturgeon IUCN Status)

3. "Caviar is an über food—it has more minerals and nutrients that any other protein, ounce for ounce."

FACT CHECK: Two issues with this. (a) Caviar is packed full of nutrition, but you can't say with confidence that it has more nutrients and minerals ounce for ounce than any other protein without the proper testing. As far as I could find, no such test have been conducted to compare caviar to other sources of protein. (b) It is also full of calories and salt, which might remove caviar from the "uber" food category since that is usually reserved for powerfully nutritious fruits and vegetables.

4. "Nature’s Viagra? Caviar contains high levels of taurine, a natural stimulant, and arginine, a vasodilator that opens up blood vessels."

FACT CHECK: Don't know what to say about this. Seafood is recognized by the general public for their sexual properties. When it comes to "Nature's Viagra" most people think of oysters first, followed closely by shrimp, mussels, scallops, and caviar. But there is no proven correlation between caviar and enhanced sexual pleasure or frequency, despite the high levels of the amino acids, taurine and arginine.

5. "Due to depleted sources and availability, the world is consuming half the amount of caviar than we did in the mid-1970s."

FACT CHECK: This one is doubtful and no such study confirms its validity. Some sources would claim the world is consuming the same amount or more true sturgeon caviar than it did 40 years ago
due to advances in farming and cross-breeding. Many sturgeon species have seen their numbers decline since the 1970's due to over-fishing, so it might be valid to assume the world is currently consuming half the amount of caviar from sturgeons on the endangered species list than it used to. Despite there being less wild sturgeon in the world, and many more species being made illegal by governments across the globe, the caviar market has grown and is more accessible to the average consumer than ever before. Caviar substitutes are also way more widespread than they used to be, and are labeled as "caviar" here in the states.

6. "According to legend, one of Jackie O’s diets consisted of a single baked potato, stuffed with Beluga caviar and sour cream."

FACT CHECK: Interesting bit of history, but one that is hard to digest as a fact. (a) This one starts off with "According to legend..." and just by the definition of the word "legend" which means "a traditional story sometimes popularly regarded as historical but unauthenticated." Unauthenticated is not proven, therefore, not a fact. But, (b) First Lady Jackie Kennedy was supposedly obsessed with trying to keep her weight at 120lbs, and there are some unproven sources that claim she would eat only one of these caviar chips all day to limit calories.

7. "Caviar pairs well with beverages other than champagne and vodka. Try pairing it with beer, sake or wine at your next soirée."

FACT CHECK: This seems more like preferences and recommendations on what beverage to pair with caviar. I have no problem with the suggestions, but it probably doesn't need to be here with historical and informational "things to know about caviar".

8. "It goes great on a potato chip. Top chefs and caviar connoisseurs alike consider it the best version of fish and chips."

FACT CHECK: Again, all this tells me is that someone likes caviar on potato chips, along with how unnamed chefs and connoisseurs claim they consider caviar on chips to be the best version of fish and chips.

9. "Caviar can now be extracted without killing the fish. For the first time ever, using the Kohler Process, the eggs can be harmlessly harvested through a patented massage and rinsing technique."

FACT CHECK: This one checks out, but it's called "The Vivace Method" not the Kohler Process. Angela Köhler is the German scientist who has spent nine years developing the new production system. (NPR: No-Kill Caviar)

10. "It can take anywhere from eight to 18 years for the sturgeon to produce mature eggs that are large enough for caviar harvesting."

FACT CHECK: Not entirely true, because the spawning age differs between species of sturgeon. Some female sturgeon can fully mature and produce quality eggs after 3 years of growth. Other species do not reach spawning maturity until about 15 years of age or later, and they may spawn only every 2 to 11 years after that. (NW Council)

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