Buying local, keeping the heat low, riding my bike, making educated votes… I am a huge advocate for the personal role we can each play in keeping our earth healthy.
I want to contribute as little as possible to pollution and global warming. I want to sleep well at night and do my part. But there is one major category where I was always a huge perpetrator.
Fish. I love to eat fish.
Fried, grilled, poached, steamed, baked, sushi, sashimi, you name it, I’ll eat it.
Once I heard about the major problems facing the fishing industry including pollution, overfishing, extinction, destructive farming practices (and more), I started learning about what I could do to still enjoy some of my favorite dinners, but do so informed and responsibly.
I started by downloading the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s pocket guide for the Midwest (also available in iPhone and Android App form). I took a quick look, noted some fish that they recommend to avoid and thought that would be the end of it.
Some choices to avoid include:
Caviar, Sturgeon* (imported wild)
Cod: Atlantic and imported Pacific
Crab: King (imported)
Flounders, Halibut, Soles (Atlantic)
Lobster: Spiny (Brazil)
Mahi Mahi/Dolphinfish (imported)
Rockfish (Pacific trawled)
Salmon (farmed, including Atlantic)*
Tilapia (Asia farmed)
Trout: Lake (Lake Huron and Michigan)*
Tuna: Albacore, Bigeye, Yellowfin
Tuna: Bluefin* and Tongol
Tuna: Canned (except troll/pole)*
Yellowtail (imported farmed)
At Boston's outdoor market, Haymarket, buying some (yummy) sustainably caught fish on a trip last spring.
Some best choices include:
Arctic Char (farmed)
Barramundi (US farmed)
Catfish (US farmed)
Cod: Pacific (US bottom longline)
Crab: Dungeness, Stone
Halibut: Pacific (US)
Lobster: Spiny (US)
Perch: Yellow (Lake Erie)*
Salmon (Alaska wild)
Scallops (farmed off-bottom)
Striped Bass (farmed or wild*)
Tilapia (US farmed)
Trout: Rainbow (US farmed)
Tuna: Albacore including canned
white tuna (troll/pole, US and BC)
Tuna: Skipjack including canned
light tuna (troll/pole)
Whitefish: Lake (trap net)*
However, now that I keep these options in mind when I look at the menu, I also have become more comfortable asking where the fish came from when out to eat. I have found that while the servers may not know off-hand, the chefs generally enjoy when customers take interest in their trade, and the folks in the fish section of the grocery store are friendly and knowledgeable.
Take Salmon for example. Farmed salmon, including Atlantic, is horrible for the fishery, possibly contains mercury or other contaminants and is generally not a good choice. However, Alaskan wild salmon is a great choice and wonderful way to continue enjoying that delicious pink fish.
According to the folks at Monterey Bay, “Pacific salmon in Alaska is among the most intensively managed species in the world, with excellent monitoring of both the fish populations and the fishery. […] Freshwater habitats in Alaska have remained relatively pristine, and salmon originating in Alaska does not face the same damming, deforestation and development challenges as those in California and the Pacific Northwest. The current abundance of Alaska salmon and its habitat reflects the success of the state’s management practices.” Awesome.
I recommend downloading the guide or App yourself, looking over the UW Food Safety recommendations for Wisconsin-fished choices, asking when your’re at the store or out to eat, and finally, trying out some new dinners!
You’ll be hooked in no time
-contributed by Jenny Lynes, Membership Assistant