About a month ago I promised I'd provide you all with a list of fruits and vegetables that you should really strive to buy organic (very cutely referred to as the "dirty dozen") and others you could probably pass on and save a few dollars. I've found that plenty of other people have done a lovely job of this for us all, so I'm providing a link for you to peruse at your leisure here. In addition to those listed I also recommend buying all of your animal derived food organic as well. This way, you know your money is going to a farmer that does not use hormones, antibiotics and other yucky practices in raising their cattle/pigs/chickens etc.
Farm Raised vs. Wild: The Seafood Dilemma
Jan Van Kessel Still Life
If you've read former entries in my blog, you know that seafood (fish in particular) provides us with a wealth of essential nutrients and vitamins. In light of the BP Gulf disaster that is currently occurring, I thought this would be a good time to discuss the moral and health issues that come with ingesting seafood, whether it's better to be eating farm raised (for environmental balance reasons) or wild (healthier and more "humane"). Some of this information is fairly new information to me, and definitely has me rethinking my bi-monthly purchase of farm raised shrimp from Trader Joe's. Shocking, I'm sure.
PCBs are man made chlorinated compounds used as coolants & lubricants in a variety of electrical equipment up until 1977. In 1977, they were banned due to their obvious and serious environmental & health impacts, but are STILL present in our environment. Fish absorb PCBs through their food and, in turn, we absorb them by consuming contaminated fish. It has been found that farm raised fish, especially salmon, ingest far higher amounts of PCBs through their feed than wild fish. Frankly, alarmingly higher amounts.
What Exactly is Meant by Farm Raised?
Farm raised fish are actually raised in the ocean in pens. The situation is very similar to the way chickens are raised for their meat and eggs, only in the water. They are crammed in, have very little room to swim around and are much more prone to disease and infection because of this. The fish are fed antibiotics, are fattier than wild fish, have lower nutritional value and contain higher levels of mercury & PCBs as mentioned above. In addition to all of this charming stuff, farm raised fish escape, infecting wild populations with disease and generally wreak havoc on an already delicate and damaged ecosystem. Lovely! As if the creatures in the ocean didn't have enough crap to deal with already. FYI, farm raised salmon is fed food coloring to give it the same rich pink color that wild salmon have. Lame. Long story short, farm raised fish are not only bad for us health-wise, but they also suck for the environment.
As far as my super cheap farm raised shrimp habit from Trader Joes is concerned, read this nastiness and this as well. Buying wild American caught shrimp is best. Not only is it fresh caught as opposed to farmed, but there are laws limiting the amount of bycatch. Bycatch is one of the saddest negative impacts of net fishing. Check this little guy out:
In light of the above information, it is obvious that farm raised seafood is not environmentally sustainable and has negative impacts on our health as well as the ocean. So, wild caught it is. That leads to another huge issue-overfishing. I recommend checking out this website along with doing more of your own research. Inform yourself and do what you can. The more people out there who actually think about where their food is coming from, the more of a difference we can make. Our ocean is essential and directly tied to our health and well being and we are destroying it. Everything is connected and impacts each link down the chain after it.