In my post, “Eat More Seafood Part 1: What to Buy”, I gave some shopping advice for finding the most sustainable and healthy seafood available. Now I will give some tips on working seafood into your shopping list and shopping budget. A reader recently commented , “My gut feeling is that people don’t eat enough fish because they HAVEN’T eaten much fish. It’s just not part of their dietary vernacular.” (read her full comment under my Eat Seafood page in the top bar of this page)
In order for us to eat seafood more regularly, we first need to change the way we perceive it. Even with a fisherman for a husband and a freezer full of fish, I still tend to think of seafood as a “special occasion food” instead of an “every day food.” I have to force myself to thaw out a fillet for lunch instead of saving it for when we have guests for dinner. Seafood doesn’t have to be a luxury food and it doesn’t have to be expensive either.
FROZEN OR CANNED: Of course availability and prices vary greatly depending on what area of the country you live. If you live on one of the coasts, you probably have access to fresh local seafood. But no matter where you live, if you are on a budget, buy it frozen or canned. Seafood is usually processed right off the docks, so chances are the frozen or canned stuff is fresher than some of the “fresh” stuff on display at the seafood counter anyway.
VARIETIES: I was checking out the frozen seafood at my local grocery store yesterday and spotted bags of fillets of cod and tilapia. Both were cheap, and both are sustainable. Some other cheap choices are rockfish, rainbow trout, squid, pollock, clams (live or canned), mussels, canned salmon, canned tuna, catfish, sardines, herring… I’ll stop there. Just compare the cheap options at the store with your sustainable seafood guide of choice to make sure you aren’t supporting bad fishing or farming practices.
SOURCES: I’d recommend checking out any local seafood markets first, but if you don’t have any in your area, Trader Joe’s has a good selection of frozen and canned seafood (just bring along your pocket guides, because a lot of their seafood is NOT sustainable). If you have COSTCO stores in your area, they are another good option, and they just pledged to only sell sustainable seafood! I also just read that Safeway is starting a sustainable seafood program, with all sustainable seafood by 2015. Whole Foods Markets are also a good choice for buying quality sustainable seafood, but you might have to pay a little more. You can also order seafood online, like canned wild Alaska salmon from www.purealaskasalmon.com.
SUBSTITUTION: Seafood is a protein. Think of it the same way you think of chicken or beef or pork. You probably have some type of meat on your grocery list, so switch out one type of meat for some type of seafood. If you usually purchase pork chops, instead buy a fillet of cod. Buy some squid (calamari) to go on your spaghetti instead of meatballs. Top your caesar salad with a can of salmon instead of grilled chicken. Don’t think of it as adding on to your grocery list, think of it as substituting. I guarantee that you will feel healthier, your budget shouldn’t be affected, and you will have peace of mind knowing that you are eating a super-healthy, sustainable protein that was NOT raised on a crowded feed lot.
♦My next and last post in this little series will be advice for making quick, simple meals with the seafood you bring home. I’ll share some of the recipes I make for my family on a regular basis, and if anyone else out there has any recipe ideas for this next post, please share!♦