As I navigate my clean food journey, there’s been one question that comes up in my head more than any other: “To eat fish, or not to eat fish”. I am lucky enough to be close friends with a local fishery that gives me low-down on the fish industry from time to time. Neopol Smokery. They pride themselves on artfully preparing locally grown/raised and organic foods whenever they can, and specialize, among other items, in smoked fish–especially salmon.
I’ll always remember during my transition from eating meat to being a non-meat-eater, my friends at Neopol warned me that fish is much more dangerous from a pollution and contamination standpoint than meat is. The fish industry has so little control of what goes into the vast waters they fish from that even under the best circumstances, no matter how wild the fish is, pollution is inevitable. Conversely, with meat–take chickens for instance. A free-range, organically raised, vegetarian-fed chicken coming from a happy farm, is likely exactly that. No more, no less. Nutrition aside, that chicken will do you better than a wild catch of salmon. But nutrition is never really aside, is it? So that’s why I went ahead with my plan to cut out the poultry and meat, even in light of the unstable fish world.
Thanks to a friendly commenter, I learned that Neopol is in good company with it’s information and facts:
Says Dr. Joel Fuhrman, champion of the “let food be thy medicine” theory:
Fish is one of the most polluted foods we eat, and it may place consumers at high risk for various cancers. Scientists have linked tumors in fish directly to the pollutants ingested along the aquatic food chain, a finding confirmed by the National Marine Fisheries Service Laboratory. In some instances, such as with the PCBs in Great Lakes trout and Salmon, it can be shown that a person would have to drink the lake water for one hundred years to accumulate the same quantity of PCBs present in a single half-pound portion of these fish, reported John J. Black, Ph.D., senior cancer research scientist for the Roswell Park Memorial Institute to the American Cancer Society. From the flounder in Boston Harbor to the English Sole in Puget Sound, scientists report that hydrocarbon pollution from habitat and our environment concentrate in fish in toxic levels.
So what to do. The theory proposed above is sound! Makes total sense. Still! Knowing what I now know, reading what I’ve read…I still want fish to be a part of my diet. But can I afford it? Can any of us? Does it defeat the purpose of my otherwise clean colorful food world (we’ll talk eggs another day :))? Even looking at a broader picture–where does anyone draw the line? Many of us are eating clean these days, and trying to consistent, and stay educated. But doesn’t something have to give at some point? But where? How do you decide what the lesser evils of our fat, sugar, pollution saturated communities lie?
In the meantime, eat colorfully! You can never go wrong doing that!