Sushi, although strongly associated with Japan, is actually of Southeast Asian origin. People back in the day wrapped fish in fermented rice to preserve them. After months of fermentation, the fish was eaten while the rice was discarded. It was only later when China caught on to this process that so did Japan. But the Japanese did it more for the taste. They consumed the fish, while it still hasn’t completely fermented, and the rice too. Eventually, they just added vinegar to the rice to speed up the fermentation process. This is now what “sushi” is to the world.
Sushi has become so famous that there’s no need to be in Japan just to eat it. So popular, in fact, that the supply of fish can hardly keep up with the demand, which leads to cases of fish fraud in the US. What might look like a tuna and labeled as such may be really something else. So the executive chef of Harney Sushi in San Diego, Rob Ruiz, thought of making edible QR (Quick Response) codes from rice paper and water-based ink. These codes are placed on each sushi and people can scan them through their smart phones to know where the fish came from and whether it is sustainable, right away.
According to Ruiz, “we have also noticed that people are now ordering more sashimi, more straight fish, I think because we’ve given them more confidence. If they were scared about trying some of the specialty fish, now they can scan the code and know everything we have is traceable.” There is an ongoing campaign against fish fraud and several restaurants have already made their own QR codes.
Customers are taken to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) FishWatch website upon scanning the code. There they can see information on how the fish was sourced and watch educational videos. This awareness has helped increase the sales of sushi.