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My Whole Food Journey 7.6.11 – Finding Good Fish

In an effort to continue to  search out and feed my family the best foods to fuel their bodies I’ve been trying to include more fish.  But that got me to thinking about which fish I should buy.  Many questions came to mind including which kinds of fish should I include?  How are those fish raised?  What were they fed?  Does it mater where they are raised?

I set out to answer those questions and in light of all the research I’ve read about how good fish is and how certain kinds are the only natural sources of Omega 3′s, I’ve decided to feed my family fish at least once, if not twice per week.  Since chicken is so expensive, I figured it should be a great replacement for some of the chicken dishes I make.

Here is what I found:

On July 5, 2011 Fairwarning.org reported that, “Within the last two months, three American fish importers pleaded guilty in Mobile, Ala., to federal felony charges of mislabeling fish and seafood. Their illegal haul included more than 120,000 pounds of imported fish, brought in to Mobile and Seattle, that tested positive for the suspected human carcinogen malachite green and for another antibiotic that U.S. authorities also prohibit for use on fish that people consumed.”   The article also noted that the FDA may not be doing such a fabulous job screening imported fish.  Only about 1% of the fish that is imported is actually screened.  Couple that with the information that 80% of the fish Americans eat is imported and you’ve got my attention.

I also read reports of farmed fish in China being tainted and even fed the sewage of livestock and poultry!

So should I just not eat imported fish?

Well my answer, {my decision} is no.

But what about farm raised fish, like tilapia?  Is it a good alternative to imported varieties?

Well, in China tilapia has been reported to being fed sewage from poultry and livestock – so avoid tilapia from China… check.  But what about tilapia from American farms you ask?  Researchers from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine say that farm-raised tilapia – the kind typically sold in supermarkets – contains very low levels of the beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, and very high levels of the potentially dangerous omega-6 fatty acids.  This makes eating tilapia the equivalent of eating doughnuts or a hamburger!  How can that be, you ask?  Well, most farm raised tilapia are fed pellets made from corn or soy – not their natural diet – and this leads to the animal being high in saturated fats – just like beef that is raised on corn.

So , don’t eat tilapia at all?

Well, my answer {my decision} is no. But surprisingly tilapia is the fish Americans eat the most of.  This is probably because it is so readily available and it is cheap.  Sounds like a lot of the foods Americans are eating a lot of!

What fish am I eating?

Well, I haven’t found a great resource that has been super helpful to helping me figure that out!  I found the Seafood Watch pocket guide and while it is super helpful to find out which fish are the most sustainable and are caught or farmed using the best environmental practices, they still include farm raised tilapia as a good choice.  So, while this list is good for the environment, it isn’t the best list for YOUR health.

So, here’s what my family is eating that is on the good list according to the Seafood Watch guide that I feel is both good for us and the environment:

  • Mahi Mahi (US Atlantic troll/pole)
  • Tuna – Yellow fin (US Atlantic troll/pole)
  • Alaskan Wild Salmon (not farmed!)
  • Canned Albacore and Chunk light tuna

We’re also eating wild caught cod and wild caught flounder but they are apparently not very sustainable so maybe we’ll switch these varieties for halibut which is also on the sustainable list.

What about you?  Have you been trying to get more fish in your diet and are confused by which varieties you should be purchasing?

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  1. Melinda P says:

    Here fish is super expensive, except for canned tuna. After all the frankenfish and unsustainable fish stories I’ve been hearing, I’m almost afraid to eat fish…

  2. Isabella says:

    Thank you for this article! I didn’t know all this info!

    But you mention that the fish is cheaper than chicken, really? Where I’m at, I can get organic chicken for about $6/lb (if bought whole in costco) & about $8/lb (wild salmon). Is it different where you are? I’d love to eat more fish, but it’s much more expensive in some cases (the example I gave is probably the cheapest, if you don’t consider the canned stuff)


    • Denisesawyer says:

      You’re right, some types of fish are more expensive. I am paying about $5 to $6 per pound for chicken. Beef on the other hand, I am paying around $3.50 per pound (and that is for all types – ground beef, steak, roast) since I buy a whole cow with family and friends. I guess that is why I consider the chicken so expensive.
      As far as fish, I buy some varieties (flounder and cod mostly) at the conventional grocery store and luck up on BOGO deals often so I am getting it much cheaper. But, Alaskan Wild Salmon and Ahi Tuna I’m paying prime price for, but we mix it up with other cheaper varieties that I mentioned.
      Hope that helps clear things up!
      Denise Sawyer
      Wholesome Mommy

  3. Thanks so much!! This is great and useful information! I just found you on twitter and happened upon this post!! :)

    • Denisesawyer says:

      Great! Glad you found me! =)
      I have several other posts like this one under the menu tab “My Whole Food Journey”
      Hope you find other posts to be helpful too!
      Wholesome Mommy

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