Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Speaking of mercury, here's the dish on fish

Green Guide posted a compiled list of good, bad and ugly fish choices based on data from several reputable sources. It's quite comprehensive, so I'm just going to hit the highlights. You can find the whole list here.

At stake are potential toxicity for us and seriously adverse affects of fishing on our oceans. Some fish are so contaminated with mercury or PCBs that we should not eat them at all. Some are fished with destructive methods that mess with the ecosystem. And some are just completely overfished, endangering the survival of the species (not to mention our food supply).

The hardest part of this is knowing the origins of the fish you're eating, especially in restaurants. Don't be afraid to ask because this is what drives chefs, stores and fishmongers to be more thoughtful about their selections. Otherwise, read labels. I found wild-caught Gulf shrimp at Giant in the frozen section for about the same price as imported.

Note that all farmed fish are not created equal. Some are safe to eat. Most imported farmed fish is not. You have to put a little time into making the best decisions, but we can all thank the researchers out there who have helped with lists like this one.

Here's the down-low on the most popular fish choices:

Best---Dungeness trap-caught in U.S.; Imitation wild-caught in AK (think about this...I did not make it up, was on list!); Snow crab from Canada; Stone crabs from FL
Okay---Blue from Gulf Coast); King from AK; Kona from HI, Australia; Snow crab from AK
Worst---Imported King

Best---Pink, wild-caught in OR; Spot Prawn wild-caught in BC
Okay---Shrimp either farmed or trawl-caught in U.S. Atlantic, U.S. Gulf of Mexico; Spot Prawn wild-caught in U.S.

Best and Only---Wild-caught in AK
Worst---All other salmon

Best---Bay farmed in U.S.
Worst---Sea from Mid Atlantic

Best---NONE acceptable for regular consumption
Okay---Canned light; Troll-caught Pacific albacore
Worst---Canned white, albacore, bigeye, bluefin, yellowfin

These are more GOOD choices:
  • Arctic char (farmed)
  • Barramundi (U.S. farmed)
  • Clams, soft-shell and steamers (farmed)
  • Crawfish (U.S. farmed)
  • Lobster, spiny/rock (U.S., Australia, Baja west coast)
  • Mussels (U.S. farmed)
  • Oysters (Pacific farmed)
  • Pollock (AK, wild-caught)
  • Sardines
  • Squid, longfin (U.S. Atlantic)
  • Striped bass (farmed)
  • Tilapia (U.S. farmed)
  • Trout, rainbow (U.S. farmed)Fish Too Contaminated by Mercury to Eat -- Ever:
  • Arctic char (freshwater)
  • Bass/sea bass (wild)
  • Catfish (wild)
  • Chilean sea bass
  • Croaker (Pacific) aka White Croaker
  • Groupers
  • Halibut (Atlantic)
  • Mackerel, king and Spanish (Gulf of Mexico)
  • Marlin
  • Opah
  • Orange roughy
  • Pike
  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • Tilefish
  • Yellow perch
  • Walleye

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