Hold all restaurants accountable for fish

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 21, 2002

During the holiday season of last year, we talked a lot about shopping Selma first. Whether it was an outfit for the little girl or a new bike for the son, we asked Selmians to consider hometown stores before out-of-town ones.

For the past year, the Times-Journal has written numerous articles and editorials about the catfish industry, and the troubles plaguing the Southern fish farmers. Recently, that issue has come to light again after a Browns resident, Huett Brunson, picketed a local restaurant because it didn’t serve farm-raised catfish.

The Butts family, which owns the Graystone restaurant, the Downtowner, Mr. Waffle, and now Crossroads Exxon on U.S. Highway 80 West, is an important part of Selma’s economic base. With the small restaurant empire they have formed here, they should be respected, and recognized, as contributors to our economy.

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The issue over labeling Vietnamese basa fish as farm-raised catfish is a far-reaching problem. Comparatively, what the Graystone restaurant serves — whether it be real catfish or real Vietnamese fish — matters very little on the big picture of catfish farmers and their business struggles.

We hope the Butts family can sort through this issue with local farmers, and we hope Selmians continue to enjoy the good food they offer every day. We also ask that they purchase locally produced farm-raised catfish.

The Graystone restaurant, featured in the Times-Journal and on TV media Monday night, should not catch all the blame for pawning off one species of fish for another. In reality, there likely are other restaurants in this area that serve basa fish.

All that leads back to our attitude that Selmians shop Selma first. Once Graystone purchases farm-raised catfish, which they will, then Selma should continue to support that restaurant. We also should show our support for the local catfish farmers.

If you go into a restaurant and order catfish, question waiters about the food. If you go to a restaurant outside of Selma, question them too. Helping our local catfish farmers doesn’t mean picking on one restaurant — it means holding them all accountable.