These days, eating more fish is being touted as a cure-all for all sorts of conditions. Mostly because seafood like salmon and trout is known for being high in omega-3 fats. In addition to being heart healthy, omega-3s have been linked to helping ease depression and rheumatoid arthritis. On top of that, seafood is typically low in unhealthy saturated fats. Currently, the American Heart Association recommends eating fish twice a week to get the benefits of omega-3 fats.
When it comes to shopping for seafood, sustainability can vary between species of fish and how it was raised. Here’s an overview of the different kinds of seafood typically available and how to make more sustainable choices.
Farm-Raised vs. Wild Seafood
In terms of sustainability, both farm-raised and wild-caught seafood have their pros and cons. One benefit of farming is that it produces a high volume of seafood options. To put things in perspective, roughly half of the seafood eaten in the United States is farmed. Farming seafood is one way to alleviate the risk of overfishing wild seafood.
On the other hand, some farm-raised fish species require a lot of feed and resources to grow. For example, salmon needs to be fed one pound of fish for every pound it gains. There are also concerns about the use of antibiotics and certain ingredients in the feed. Fortunately, various farms are implementing eco-friendly practices, so that it’s possible to have farmed fish that’s sustainably raised. In order to help you when you hit the fish counter, follow these tips when you’re shopping for sustainable seafood.
Shopping for Sustainable Seafood
- Know where it’s from. Knowing the source of the seafood is the first step to determining its sustainability. Find out if the seafood was farm raised or wild caught and which country or region it’s from.
- Go domestic or local. For an easy way to buy sustainable seafood, opt for domestic or local varieties. The seafood regulations in the United States are defined with sustainability in mind, so domestic seafood is likely to be responsibly caught.
- Use a guide. Once you know the source of your seafood, use a guide like the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch to determine its sustainability. It categorizes seafood as best choices, good alternatives and ones to avoid. The list is updated regularly, and it also includes sustainable seafood guides specific to different states.
- Small seafood is a safe bet. Smaller fish like anchovies, herring and sardines are typically responsibly caught. Similarly, oysters, clams and mussels are all excellent choices because they feed themselves by filtering the water for algae.
What are your thoughts on sustainable seafood? Let us know in the comments.
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Bobby is the community and social media manager at Zipongo. He has a degree in nutrition and dietetics and previously worked as a health educator.