Until recently, most consumers never really gave a second thought as to the sourcing of their food. That is no longer the case, as today’s consumers are not only concerned about the supply of their food, but in the achievement of such sourcing.
When it comes to seafood, the slope is a little more slippery. In some crucial ways, the oceans are one of the last sources of truly wild products.
There are twelve types of fish, or the “fishy dozen,” that most experts refer to as those fish you should never eat.
Eel is one of the ingredients found in sushi and continues to be high in PCBs and mercury. Eel populations across the board, including yellow and silver eel, are often being overharvested. In addition to the decreasing in numbers, eels absorb and store chemicals and contaminants that are harmful, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) as well as flame retardants. In some locations, adults are cautioned not to consume more than one eel per year.
The stocks of Atlantic Cod fell in the mid-1990s and, due to concerning catch depletion, followed by the worst season in 2016 than it had experienced in years. Nature equipped the female cod to release over a hundred million eggs, with only a few remaining viable until adulthood. Experts caution that if you use cod liver oil, make sure it originates from Alaskan Cod and not Atlantic Cod.
Bluefin Tuna is a significant ingredient in most sushi, but in actuality should be avoided at all costs. The Tuna is being overfished nearly to the point of the species extinction. Other than the fact that their numbers have all but dwindled, the Tuna is also a large predatory fish. Commonly with fish their size, they are known to contain higher than normal levels of mercury.
Beluga sturgeons sought after for their fish eggs are considered a delicacy among those of wealth and power. The fish itself tends to grow very large, has a life expectancy of up to 100 years, and is known to carry at any time up to several hundred pounds of caviar. As with other highly sought after species, this fish is in critical danger of extinction. If you find you have to have caviar, those blue sturgeon farmed and raised in recirculating aquaculture would be the best alternative.
Chilean Sea Bass
This deep-sea predator’s actual name is the Patagonia toothfish. However, through a marketing gimmick that gave the fish a less intimidating moniker, seafood distributors started referring to it as “Chilean Seabass” – a highly overfished species. The fact that it can possess high levels of mercury, has become somewhat problematic as well.
Salmon is another favorite of Americans, right up there with Tuna. We consume a lot of it, but the problem is that we are consuming the unhealthiest kind. Salmon that currently marketed as being “Atlantic” is, in actuality, farmed fish. In a nutshell, this means that they kept in the worst of conditions, most often ridden with feces, bacteria pesticides, and parasites. Studies have shown that farmed salmon are much more likely to contain contaminants and pollutants.
Coming into its own on menus all across the US, this fish is not what it seems. Rather than getting what we Americans know as a traditional catfish, it turns out to be a fish by the name, pangasius, or swai fish. In a study conducted in 2016, 70-80 percent of samples of this fish showed as containing a bacterial microbe, Vibriobacteria, known to be behind the majority of cases of shellfish poisoning. This fish is commonly factory farmed, usually spending their days swimming in a sludge of waste, and you can see why you should run, not walk, away from this one.
Imported King Crab
Unknown to most consumers, 75 percent of the king crab sold on the US market today comes from Russia. Legally, the labeling of Alaskan king crab legs requires harvesting from—you got it—Alaska. Unfortunately, due to mislabeling, those king crabs harvested in Russia are more often than not marked as Alaskan king crab legs. Be sure to check the label clearly, as the words “imported” or “Alaskan” are trigger words that are not all as it seems.
The orange roughy is one of the longest living fish species, with a life span of up to 150 years. Commonly known in the scientific community as “slimehead,” marketers of seafood decided the species needed a more appealing name. What resulted is yet another overfished species. The orange roughy doesn’t reach its sexual maturity until it is at least 20 years old, making its recovery a prolonged and arduous process. Orange roughy, if consumed in large amounts, is deemed dangerous due to the higher mercury levels in their systems.
Sharks are pretty much the rulers of the oceans, and let’s admit it pretty high on the planet’s food chain. Thus, they will contain higher levels of mercury that should minimize both the eating of sharks and any supplements containing them. Sharks are another species that are slow to mature, and unlike their counterparts, do not give birth to near as many offspring. Sharks are in high demand as their shark fins are considered quite the delicacy in most Asian cultures.
Swordfish, also known as a predatory fish, has the designation of containing highly elevated mercury levels. The Environmental Defense Fund, because the mercury is at such a high level, suggests that women and children avoid this type of fish—period! If men choose to partake in the fish, it is to be limited to only one serving per month.
Most consumers assume that all fish is healthy. However, when it comes to consuming Tilapia, it can be worse for you than eating bacon! Tilapia is currently at the top of the list of all consumed fish in America. Tilapia has low levels of omega-3 fatty acids, known as the good fatty acids, and high levels of omega-6 fatty acids, also known as the harmful fatty acids. If you must partake in Tilapia, make sure you avoid any that is from China. You would be better off reading the label and purchasing Tilapia from the US, Canada, Ecuador, and even Peru.