Catfish Lies: Straight from the Delta

“Catfish Lies”

When is the truth a lie? We talk about “little white lies” and half-truths. Is there such a thing? Here is one of my favorite stories. You decide for yourself if the parties involved told the truth or a lie:

American catfish farmers of the South are having a hard time economically. As is true in so many other fields, foreign products are selling much cheaper and undermining the American market.

About five years ago, this problem came home to catfish farming. A large influx of imported catfish hit the market and this glut depressed domestic catfish sales.

The “new catfish” was packaged and labelled “Delta raised catfish.” To any catfish connoisseur, which every Southerner considers himself, Delta catfish means raised on farms in the Mississippi Delta region of Louisiana/Mississippi.

Research and reading the fine print on this new Delta catfish revealed that it was truly Delta-raised. it came straight from the Mekong Delta of Vietnam!

Secondly, it is not the same type of catfish we are used to eating. It is a species called basa, a very distant cousin of our catfish.

About this same time I traveled to Vietnam and rode in boats along the Mekong River. It is an amazing river, alive with river traffic of every size and shape. The Mekong catfish farmers live on the river in small houseboats. They have floating wooden cages where they deposit small basa fish they’d caught in nets. As they feed them, the “catfish” grow and soon become marketable… and exportable; much of it to the U.S.

And it ends up in the Southern U.S. labeled as “Delta catfish.”

Once again, “truth in labelling” can mean many things!

It is a reminder to me, as a follower of Jesus, that I am to speak the truth in all things. Not some of the truth, but the total truth. As the oath administered in court states, “To tell the truth, and nothing but the truth.”

So I have a new definition: let’s call it “Catfish Lies”: It seems the truth, but it’s not.

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