Posted on November 15th, 2011
In conversation with a fish eating cohort the other day we exchanged our FEAR of consuming fresh seafood products found in seemingly “normal” places you would find seafood to purchase, like a grocery store or a restaurant. The meagre amount of inspection on seafood in the United States (less than 2% according to this fascinating yet depressing article by NPR Salt) lends itself to an absurd amount of leeway for corruption and misinformation to seep into the system.
Many of us are trying hard to eat healthier, we buy organic. We want to detoxify our bodies in this modern world full of free radicals and to be frank, other weird shit of that nature. We make a conscience effort to eat less red meat, and when we do we want to know where it comes from and how it is raised. We are trying to eat locally, doing the very best we can to do so and it isn’t easy.
When it comes to seafood there are even more variables. Not only do we want to know whether the fish is wild or farm raised but we also want to know where it comes from, and whether or not it is what we call “sustainable.”
In countless articles regarding human antibiotics, mood stabilizers, prescription hormones and other drugs being found in our drinking water, the bad news perpetuates. We are learning that there are minnows in the Mid West with small heads and low testosterone levels and there are Long Island Fluke with high estrogen levels that seems to come from birth control pills flushed into the NYC water system. Just google “antibiotics in tap water” and you will see the countless articles dating back as far as five or six years in regards to this issue.
In the book CLEAN by Dr. Alejandro Junger he speaks of a salmon farm where the brood stock was being fed recalled dog food. Imagine, a food not fit for your dog is being used to sustain the life of fish that you will eventually eat? That is just wrong, WRONG!
I am not trying to freak you out, but I don’t blame you if you are getting there. I myself am alarmed and I am AFRAID to eat seafood that I find here in the New York City. There is no sign on the fillets you see at the market that says, “dog food fed salmon” or “estrogen rich flounder.” Environmental groups like Monterrey Bay Aquarium have applications for your mobile device that are supposed to tell you what fish you should eat and which fish you shouldn’t. These types of applications fall SO short of what they “intend” to accomplish. Monk is bad and Farmed Salmon is good? What if that farmed salmon was genetically modified in Chile, some of the brood stock has escaped into the Pacific and is weakening what is left of the wild salmon gene pool? What if that monk was caught in season off of Long Island by a dayboat, by local fishermen who have been continuing this tradition for generations? Then is it bad to eat monk and good to eat farmed salmon? I dare say not.
What if I told you that less than 10% of shrimp consumed in the United States comes from abroad? Doesn’t make much sense at all when many restaurants you go into advertise fresh Carolina shrimp on the menu. It may not even be their fault, maybe the problem comes from the purveyor they are dealing with or the purveyor that their purveyor is dealing with. The truth is that each individual piece of seafood seems to pass through so many hands before it lands on your plate that is is nearly impossible to track down its true origins.
My advice to you is to buy local and buy in season. Try to buy from purveyors or better yet FISHERMEN that you trust, otherwise don’t eat it.
I know it sounds harsh, but that is what I am doing. I hope that soon you will have better seafood purchasing options to chose from. Also, do yourself a favor and read Four Fish by Paul Greenberg this book gives a fair and honest account of the seafood industry today, it is also very well written and super informative.