I love fresh seafood but with so many conflicting opinions out there, are you also left wondering about how socially responsible it is to consume fish these days?
While seafood can be an acquired taste, or even a luxury for us main landers, many of us have been hearing about the issue of our oceans being over fished, polluted and even dying in some parts of the globe. So is it still safe to eat from the sea? Should we continue to buy it? And if so, which ones, from where and how often?
I like to consider these four points before putting seafood on the menu;
In all my research, it really boils down to knowing where your fish comes from. While some species are on an endangered list in certain parts of the world, in other parts the population is thriving. With regards to our own health, knowing if the fish comes from heavily polluted waters is important too. We are what we eat after all!
Is it fished or farmed? While there are now laws in place to help avoid overfishing, not all fishing methods are the same. Avoid species that are caught by drifting longlines, as many other aquatic animals get caught in them and die. There are more sustainable methods being practiced, its just a matter of knowing! As for farmed fish, not all are equal either. Many marine farmed species actually create high amounts of water pollution, ultimately negatively impacting our oceans further, not to mention our health too! If learning more about this subject interests you, I really ienjoyed this blog article by the FishingBooker.
Does all of this sound complicated? I agree! Thankfully seafoodwatch.org has put together a list for you to consult! I was surprised to learn that many of my favourite fish were in fact in the not recommended category, so I spent some time curating a new list of fish to buy moving forward.
This picture was taken at the Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle Washington back in 2009. Google "Seattle Market fish throwing" for a slew of entertaining videos :)
There is nothing more frustrating than bringing home a piece of smelly fish! It stinks up the house and it can make you very sick. So here’s what to look for to make sure its kissably fresh;
Smell. If your fish smells fishy, it ain’t fresh. Do not be afraid to give it a whiff. Ideally you want to make a trip to the fish monger but if your options are limited, choose the fish that is packed on ice at the grocery store, otherwise you may get a stinky surprise!
Texture. The flesh should feel firm to the touch. If your fingers go through the filet when you pick it up or if it feels slimy... it’s not fresh!! If it’s a whole fish, look to the eyes... clear, vibrant eyes are a good indicator that it’s fresh, where as cloudy eyes are not.
If the freshness is off, just leave it there!
But my biggest tip is talk to your fish monger! Ask them when the fish came in. Was it frozen or fresh? Also, how long he thinks it will keep in the fridge. Normally I like to buy & cook my fish on the same day but in some cases, when stored properly, you can keep it a day or two before having any issues. Also, ask for a bag of ice to keep the fish cold. Even a short ride in a warm car can accelerate the spoiling process!
Coming from a family of inherent fish lovers ( Gaspésienne mother & Icelandic father) we ate a lot of fish growing up. Over the years I slowly started reducing my consumption and have especially become more intentional when I do choose to put fish on the menu. Like this seared scallop dish which lets one perfectly seared scallop shine around plenty of veggies. So yummy! There are plenty of seafood options that are tasty, nutritious and sustainably sourced, like Atlantic clams, bass, cod and Arctic Char, to name a few. The trick is to request what you want from your local fish monger. If we keep buying endangered fish, they’ll keep supplying them until they are banned or its too late.
What influences your fish purchase? Price, product, sustainability? Let me know what you think about the subject in the comments below and please share any fish tips with the rest of the community! The more we know the better we can act towards helping our oceans stay healthy and vibrant!