If your local sushi restaurant is ocean-friendly, you may have seen "sustainable sushi" somewhere on the menu. It sounds like a good thing, but do you know what it really means? And are your efforts to eat more fish -- that is, more protein that's free of meat's risky saturated fat and full of good-for-you fats (heart- and brain-healthy omega-3s) -- making life underwater worse?
There's no question that overfishing and destructive fishing practices are depleting the supply of wild fish. Seafood Watch, a program to encourage sustainable fishing, will tell you that nearly 75% of the world's fisheries are being depleted. At the same time, the demand for seafood is growing at about 10% per year. The only way to meet it is with farmed fish. In 2010, for the first time, we ate more seafood raised in pens, tanks, and enclosed ponds than we ate wild seafood.But fish farming is plagued with its own problems, like spewing concentrated fish waste into oceans and waterways and spreading outbreaks of parasites and disease from farmed fish to wild fish, damaging nature's population.
Sustainability is mostly in the hands of corporations and retailers, according to some experts, but you can vote with your dollars. Let stores like Whole Foods, Wegmans, Costco, and Target know that you appreciate their environmentally friendly efforts, and show your gratitude by shopping there. But ask before you buy; some stores sell a mix of sustainable and unsustainable fish. Give your business to ocean-friendly restaurants and fish markets that follow Seafood Watch guidelines. Then eat up.
Here's what sustainability means in terms of what you choose to eat at home or order in a restaurant. All of the fish and shellfish on this Super Green List, prepared by Seafood Watch, have low levels of contaminants, such as mercury and PCBs, and provide the daily minimum of omega-3s. The seafood is abundant, well-managed, and caught or farmed in environmentally friendly ways.
The Best of the Best
- Albacore tuna (troll caught or pole caught; from the United States or British Columbia)
- Freshwater coho salmon (farmed in tank systems; from the United States)
- Oysters (farmed)
- Pacific sardines (wild caught)
- Rainbow trout (farmed)
- Salmon (wild caught; from Alaska)
What keeps them from being "Best"? They contain smaller amounts of omega-3s.
- Arctic char (farmed)
- Barramundi (farmed; from the United States)
- Dungeness crab (wild caught; from California, Oregon, or Washington)
- Longfin squid (wild caught; from the U.S. Atlantic)
- Mussels (farmed)
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