If you think eating any seafood is more healthy than eating white or red meat, it’s really not that simple!
Ocean cuisine makes for some of my favorite meals. My eyes have now been opened to WHICH items make the best choices. Make sure you are eating what’s good for you! Visit this blog often for the latest info and the surprising facts about how seafood gets to our stores and restaurants!
What can make seafood unsafe
Exposure to mercury is one the main issues present with eating ocean cuisine. Human activities such as burning coal release a deadly element of nature known as mercury into the air. Mercury released into the air settles into the ocean. In the ocean, mercury becomes methylmercury and consumed by ocean plants and animals. Our exposure to mercury from ocean cuisine depends on how far up the food chain you go. As bigger fish eat the smaller fish the level of mercury residue builds in those bigger fish. Some fish at the top of the food chain: shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. Ocean cuisine that is low in mercury: shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish. Note: you should learn about the fish low in mercury that have separate issues which can impact your healthy eating choices.
Most fish and shellfish are safe because the amount of mercury found in these animals is low. It is important to know facts about mercury in ocean cuisine. Check out these links:
Farm-raised versus wild-caught
Another issue impacting healthy eating is the farm versus wild discussion. Some seafood is caught in free-to-roam, natural environment – oceans, lakes, rivers. Some seafood is “farmed” – raised in giant captive biospheres managed by humans. Water animals raised in farm environments are subject to over-use of antibiotics, overcrowding, and unsanitary conditions. Just like the comparison of free-range, grass-fed land animals vs. caged junk-fed animals. Some reports say fish raised on U. S. farms have the highest levels of toxic man-made chemicals. There are other reports that say the health benefits outweigh the risks.
Once you decide to eat wild fish exclusively, be on your guard:
And, it would be a good idea to make certain your wild-caught salmon is well-cooked:
Mislabeling: You can’t always get what you want
The issue of ‘fish fraud’ is becoming more prevalent. When buying fish in markets or restaurants, consumers are tricked by mislabeling: Cheap, less desirable fish are substituted for the high-end fish. For example, diners ordering halibut are served flounder, or, yellowfin tuna orders are filled with a different kind of tuna, like bigeye — an over-exploited species. Fish fraud is more than just a dicey business practice. Mislabeling of fish can lead to health issues and the poaching of endangered species.
UCLA and Loyola Marymount University researchers conducted a 2012 through 2015 study of Los Angeles sushi restaurants and high-end grocery stores. The result: Almost half the fish tested was mislabeled. This led researchers to conclude the switching was happening earlier in the supply chain, i.e.: at the fisheries. The study also concluded the incidents of substitute fish saw a year-over-year increase, which suggested tighter regulations and monitoring have failed to thwart the problem.
Shrimp: A love–hate relationship
Americans eat more shrimp than any other type of seafood, by weight. 90% of that shrimp is imported, and less than 2% of the imports are tested upon entry. Therein lies the problem. The farms where this shrimp is raised are often unregulated, overloaded and breeding grounds for bacteria and disease. The shrimp can be chemical-laden because they have been bombarded with pesticides and antibiotics.
Unlike the choice of farm versus wild salmon, wild-caught shrimp get the thumbs-down from environmentalists. That’s because there is a 5-1 ratio of other species that become trapped in the shrimp nets. Tons of marine life is discarded just to score a fair size shrimp catch.
If you enjoy shrimp, but want to do your part to encourage and support sustainable harvesting (and protect your health), eat only shrimp you buy and cook yourself. And, when you buy, read the labels and look for shrimp harvested in the United States. These farms are more carefully regulated, and the shrimp have a better shot at being cleanly raised.
Here’s an article that suggests alternatives to shrimp:
This article breaks down some facts about shrimp:
Also published on Medium.