Last week, we were telling you all about the underwater offenders of the fishy variety. We’ve reported in the past on the “Dirty Dozen” of the fruit and veggie world because we know that you guys want to stay informed on the “health” of your food; so, when we saw this recent list of the “Dirty Dozen” of the fish world, we knew we needed to tell you about it. Out list is based directly on the list from Prevention Magazine which you might want to check out for even more information. And now onto number four on the list….
Imported Shrimp: This is a biggie, right? How many of you don’t like shrimp? Shrimp is one of the most popular varieties of seafood in the country, so you have to wonder how many people are aware of where their shrimp is coming from and where they want it to be coming from. Apparently, imported shrimp is the dirtiest of the dirty, which is kind of scary; and more than likely, you’ve been eating it. Ninety percent of shrimp sold in the US is imported—yep, 90%. The big shrimp contaminants are chemical residues, antibiotics, E. coli, and a bevy of other critter parts that makes us a little queasy. The problem, says Marianne Cufone, director of the Fish Program at Food and Water Watch, is that less than 2% of all imported seafood is being inspected before it’s sold.
Ms. Cufone’s advice is to buy domestic—always. She recommends Gulf shrimp, but if you’re worried about the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf and the resultant environmental contamination, she also recommends pink shrimp from Oregon where fisheries are certified under the strict rules of the Marine Stewardship Council guidelines.
Atlantic Flatfish: What’s that, you ask? It’s a group of fish including, flounder, sole and halibut caught off the Atlantic Coast. The reasons for this are environmental as well as health. The fish are usually heavily contaminated but they are also over-fished to the point of being down to 1% of what’s necessary to be considered sustainable for long-term fishing. Recommended as a substitution are Pacific halibut and domestic, farm-raised, white-fleshed fish like catfish or tilapia.
Atlantic Salmon (wild-caught and farmed): Ouch. Seems like there’s no where safe from which to eat Atlantic salmon. You can’t actually (legally) catch wild Atlantic salmon because their numbers are too low. Apparently, farming salmon makes for a lot of pollution. Diseases and parasites are rampant in salmon farms because so many fish are crammed into pens together. With all of those diseases and parasites come antibiotics and pesticides. Another negative: The FDA is going ahead with allowing genetically-engineered salmon to be sold sans labeling. If you still want your salmon—and why shouldn’t you? It’s healthy and delicious—opt for wild Alaskan salmon.
Imported King Crab: Now, this can be confusing. Lots of king crab is mislabeled Alaskan king crab because apparently people just think “Alaskan” is part of the scientific name for all king crabs. It is not. If your label says, “Alaskan king crab: Imported,” put it back. Most of the imported king crab comes from Russia where limits on fish harvests aren’t very well enforced. Stay away from imported king crab and you’ll be getting real Alaskan king crab (a different animal from the imported variety), which is much more responsibly harvested than its Russian counterparts. Almost 70% of king crab sold in the US is imported, so make sure you ask where yours is from before you put it in your cart.
There are still a few more fish to avoid in this “Dirty Dozen” list, and next week we’ll finish up. We’re wondering: Do you check the labels to see where your seafood is coming from? Now that you’re armed with more information, will you take a closer look?