Choosing the Safest Fish to Eat

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Looking for a healthier alternative to beef, chicken or pork to throw on your grill this summer? Grill fish! But what type of fish should you cook?

Like most of us, you may be confused by all of the news reports about ocean pollution, over-fishing, or wondering whether farmed-fish is a viable alternative. That makes it harder to decide what fish is safe to eat. One of the most important considerations when choosing seafood for your family is whether it’s a sustainable species – seafood from sources that can be maintained without jeopardizing the aquatic ecosystem. We recommend you choose sustainable, wild-caught fish, such as wild salmon (from Alaska or the Pacific Ocean) or wild sardines, which are high in Omega-3s.

The right choice for you

The best way to make the right choice for you and your family is to do your own homework. Thanks to the internet and new mobile phone applications, there are many eco-conscious resources available at your fingertips to help you choose the best fish to buy at the grocery store or even order at a restaurant. Consider the following options:

The Marine Stewardship Council’s (http://www.msc.org/) fishery certification for wild fish and seafood eco-label recognizes and rewards sustainable fishing. The global organization works with fisheries, seafood companies, scientists, conservation groups and the public to promote the best environmental choice in seafood

The CleanFish Index (CFI) is another resource, based on a comprehensive system, that includes on-site validations, and is designed to document the actual practices of individual fisheries and/or operations. The CFI categories cover food safety, traceability, social and community welfare, animal husbandry and welfare, environmental impact, risk mitigation, harvesting techniques, documentation and regulatory compliance and tertiary certifications and/or audits for aquaculture and wild capture procedures. Check out the CleanFish website, which has a searchable database for locating CFI-certified stores or restaurants by city or zip code.

Monterey Bay Aquarium publishes a free “Seafood Watch” guide that is available both as a pocket-sized pdf or mobile phone ap. The list has three categories: “Best Choices,” “Good Alternatives” and “Avoid.” It’s important to note that the “Avoid” list includes some of the most popular types of seafood that we commonly purchase at the grocery store or order at a restaurant: Chilean Seabass, King Crab (imported), Halibut (from the US Atlantic), Orange Roughy, Spiny Lobster (Brazil), Shrimp (imported), Swordfish (imported), Red Snapper, Tilapia (Asian farms) and Trout (Lake Michigan). The listed fish are on the “Avoid” list due to concerns about mercury contaminants or other toxic pollutants.

Fish is one of the healthiest protein sources. The next time you purchase fish for grill, be sure to check the lists or ask plenty of questions to ensure that your family is eating fish from the healthiest sections of the ocean. Check out these summer fish recipes on our website: Grilled Honey-Lime Salmon Kabobs and Greek Salad with Wild Pacific Sardines.

The worldwide demand for seafood has increased to the point that some scientists are predicting that much of what we now enjoy will be completely depleted by the year 2050! In addition, industrial fish-farming practices are raising as many questions about pollution, disease and food safety as other commercial animal farms. While U.S.-based fish farms are required to follow stricter regulations than their counterparts in other countries, including Canada, consumer and environmental advocates continue to question the safety of consuming farmed-fish. Be an educated consumer! For more information on choosing the best fish for your health and the environment:

  • Seafood Watch pamphlet or mobile phone ap http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx?c=dd
  •  Clean Fish Index (http://www.cleanfish.com/restaurants)
  •  Visit I Love Blue Sea (http://www.ilovebluesea.com/) which offers sustainable seafood for sale. Partnered with Monterey Bay Aquarium, I Love Blue Sea sells only the freshest and most sustainable seafood and ships it directly to your door in eco-friendly packaging — no Styrofoam! If you’ve never before purchased seafood online, you’ll be amazed by how fresh it can be.
  •  Perils of overfishing: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/314/5800/787)
  • Is farmed-salmon safe to eat? ( http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-me-salmon9dec09,0,2475812.story)

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About the Author

Dr. Tom Bayne

Dr. Tom Bayne is a chiropractor and international expert in digestive health and detoxification. His philosophy addresses the relationship between structure and function of the human body and how that translates into your best health.

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