Eating seafood can be a healthy choice, as well as an enjoyable one. Nowadays, some fish and the way they are caught or harvested can be harmful to you and the environment. This has lead to the “sustainable seafood” movement.
Sustainable means fished or farmed sources that can maintain or increase production in the future without jeopardizing the ecosystems from which they are acquired.
Growing public concern about overfishing and environmentally destructive fishing methods has resulted in many seafood restaurants offering sustainable seafood options.
I recently had an media opportunity to learn about one restaurant’s commitment to sustainability. The Bluewater Grill (in their Newport Beach, Tustin and Redondo Beach, CA locations) currently serves 85% sustainable, and are targeting 100%.
Sustainable seafood is a complex and controversial subject. Here are a few tips that will help you select seafood that is healthy and sustainable.
Six Tips for Selecting Seafood
- Keep informed and up to date. Seafood supplies are constantly changing. A good start would be the “State of Seafood Report”
- Download the “Seafood Watch pocket guide” from Monterey Bay Aquarium or get the “Seafood Watch App” for iPhone or Android
- Ask. Whether eating in a restaurant or store, ask where is it from and how was it caught or farmed. The more consumers inquire about suppliers and supplies, the greater the demand for accountability.
- Buy from trusted retailers. Santa Monica Seafood, Whole Foods and Bristol Farms are a good start. Find guides to other good retailers like this one from Marine Stewardship Council Conservation Alliance. Buying online is another option. One reputable seller is ilovebluesea.com. Proprietor Jimmy Ulcickas, of Bluewater Grill also suggest getting to know your local fishmonger or proprietor. They can help guide you with current information.
- Buy American. It isn’t perfect, but the U.S. variety of a particular type of fish is generally better than its imported counterpart because of stricter fishing and farming standards. Having seen fish farms in Vietnam, I personally can’t endorse fish from that region, especially tilapia.
- Buy wild. Given current issues with the environmental impact of fish farming, a wild-caught fish is almost always “healthier” than a farmed fish of the same variety. There are exceptions, remember to ask.
Great websites for cooking sustainable seafood:
Inspired Choices by Aquarium of the Pacific
Monterey Bay Aquarium Recipes
Marine Stewardship Council Recipes
Good Fish: Sustainable Seafood Recipes from the Pacific Coast by Becky Selengut
Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood by Taras Grescoe
This is the beginning of the culinary seafood journey, with many entries to come.
Herbert Hover once said, “All men are equal before fish”.
I say… “all fish are not equal before men…choose wisely”.
….and then, she paused for thought.
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