Tag Archives: fish industry

A Delicious Food that gets a Bad Wrap (And Shouldn’t!)

I have to say this post is inspired by my fellow bloggers and my recent fish journey.  So after taking a casual look at the fish industry, asking a few pointed questions, and consulting with our mother earth, I had pretty much resolved that as delicious and nostalgic as fish has been for me, I’d have to seriously consider giving it up.  It appeared, eating just a small amount not only jeopardizes human health due to pollution and mercury (not just in tuna!), but it’s also not doing the environment any favors by over-farming, over-fishing, and over-eating.  Admittedly, and not pridefully, my concern typically lies with the former, but my research was really making me scratch my head for Nature’s sake too.

Anyway, as I dug deeper eh-hem swam deeper, I found out there is at least one fish in the sea that we can feel good about eating.  I was hesitant to believe the information, and even more afraid to actually try it.  Why?  This particular fish has been the butt of all jokes including smelly fish, stinky old men, cheap eats, dirty water…I could go on.  Have you guessed it yet?  Sardines!  Next to calf’s liver, turns out Sardines has the highest amount of B12 found in any food across the board!  And to anyone who’s been paying attention, B12 is not easy to come by.  They have negligible amounts of mercury because they’re the little guys that hang out on the bottom of the sea.  It’s the big bullys–swordfish, roughy, shark, tuna–that are glowing in mercury.  What’s more, they are super high in calcium, low in calories, and to boot–they really ARE cheap!  Obviously not nutritionally, but for the pocket.  Even the wild-caught, sustainably resourced, healthfully marinated, non-BPA containers…$2.99!  Try getting the same quality in wild-caught salmon.  That will run you almost $6.00 a can.  So there’s some of the myths surrounding the little fish debunked, and there was only one way to debunk the rest–eat them.  As you may be able to tell, when I eat, I go big.  So I have tried 2 different preparations:  A toasted Ezekial english muffin, open-faced, spread with creamy avocado, and topped with water-packed Sardines.  DE.LIC.IOUS.  I could not stop eating it!!  Not fishy at all!  Mild, smooth, and yummy.  Now, they’re not the prettiest things that ever were, but boy are they tasty.  Not to be outdone, I tried the marinara-packed Sardines.  Tossed with Ezekial penne pasta, a few capers, some onion and garlic.  Seriously?  Where have Sardines been my whole life??  This dish was AH.MAZING.

So, the moral of the story is, sometimes as kids we make up little rhymes and riddles that blacklists some really great foods!  Vegetables are constantly victim to this–brussels sprouts, okra, asparagus… But here’s my proposal: Try things again.  Or for the first time.  Give the food blacklist another chance!  One other interesting tidbit, our taste buds are only around for 10-14 days, before they are replaced.  Fact!  So things you think you may not like, and things you’ve tried before and didn’t like–give them another shot!  You may just be surprised at what you find out.  For me, for years I had blacklisted tomatoes (what??!), mushrooms (ridiculous!!), olives (I want to be a connoisseur now), red wine, FISH…god, I would go on, but it’s hurtful even thinking of my life without any one of these things!

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There’s Something Fishy Going On & I’ve Got Questions.

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!



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