As I stated in my last post, Americans are not eating enough seafood-an average of only 3.5 ounces a week, when we should be eating at least 8 ounces a week. From my perspective I see three obstacles keeping many people from eating seafood regularly. 1: They are intimidated by headlines of fish shortages and and mercury warnings and don’t know what they should or shouldn’t be buying. 2: They think they can’t afford it. 3: They don’t know how to prep it or cook it.
This week I am going to focus on what to buy. The goal is to find seafood that is plentiful in the oceans, fished or harvested in a low-impact manner, and low in mercury and other contaminants. Luckily you have many options, especially if you live on the west coast (the other benefit to living on a coast is the availability of fresh markets where you can by locally, or even directly from the fishermen).
Here are the main points to remember (it’s really very simple):
- Buy American: US fisheries are better managed and have more environmental and labor regulations than other countries. Because of the rigid fishing regulations in the US, if you see a fish for sale that was wild caught in the US, you can feel good about eating it. If a species of fish is considered “overfished”, it won’t be caught and you won’t see in on the market. Boycotting wild US caught fish only hurts the fishermen who catch it! West cost waters are cleaner and Alaskan waters are the cleanest (Alaska also has the best managed fisheries).
- Read the Labels: If you’re at the grocery store, fish market, or restaurant and you can’t tell where the seafood is from, or how it was caught, ask someone. Don’t be afraid to ask your grocer or chef where their seafood comes from, and if they don’t know, don’t buy it!
- Don’t buy Farmed Salmon: If you aren’t clear on the reason for this, read some of my previous post like “Out of Control Sea Lice”, “My Discussion with a Salmon Farmer”, “Study Shows: Fish Farms Harm Wild Sockeye”. If a fish is labelled “Atlantic Salmon,” it is farmed. Make sure it says “Wild.”
I know there is a lot of info out there to sift through, but hopefully this will help you select a few types of seafood that you can enjoy eating with a clean conscience.
In my next post, I will explain how to eat the 2-3 recommended servings a week of seafood without changing your grocery budget.