Friday, October 5, 2012

Rant: Eat More Seafood, Especially Local

Listen up! I have said it before but I am not sure anyone was listening. The latest statistics are a bit troubling so it needs to be said once again. We must all pay attention and do a couple of simple things, which will not only benefit your individual health (and pleasure), but will also help many small businesses as well as the country's overall economic welfare. All very worthy goals, and all easily accomplished.

So follow this advice: Eat More Seafood, Especially Local.

Back in March 2010, I exhorted people to Eat More Fish, especially because of its significant health benefits. "Research has been providing growing evidence of the health benefits of fish, for the heart, brain, and bones as well as against cancers and inflammatory diseases. But some of the strongest evidence is for its significant benefits to preventing heart disease." Fish is one of the healthiest foods you can consume and adding more fish to your diet is the logical choice.

Thus, I was disturbed when I read a recent post on the iPura Food Safety blog which discussed the findings of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) in their annual report, Fisheries Of The United States 2011, Their statistics and conclusions appear to demonstrate that not enough people are following the basic advice I listed above. So what is the problem?

The report indicated that "seafood landings" (basically how much seafood is caught or harvested) reached a "17-year high while also increasing in value by over 3/4 of a billion dollars." That sounds like good news and seems hopeful that more Americans are eating seafood but it is not the case. All of the increases were offset by the fact that the U.S. exported far more seafood that previous years. Thus, annual seafood consumption last year actually dropped to 15 pounds per person, less than the 15.8 pounds in 2010, almost a decrease of an entire pound.

Despite that decrease, the U.S. has become the world's second largest consumer of seafood, with China still in first place while Japan dropped from its former spot at second place. That still doesn't mean though that U.S. consumers are eating enough seafood. Seafood consumption should be increasing, not decreasing, especially considering the severity of heart-related disorders in the U.S. Seafood has been empirically proven to decrease heart disease and is essential to a proper diet. And eating fish is certainly one of the easiest ways to get healthy.

What was even more disturbing in the report was that the U.S. now imports 91% of their seafood, up 5% from 2010! Less than 10% of the seafood we consume is from our own country. That seems almost unbelievable. Obviously we need to support our local fisheries, which helps local economies as well as the overall economic condition of the country. Yes, we still need to make sure local fisheries catch only sustainable seafood but that still means there are plenty of options to support local fisheries. People complain about our dependence on foreign oil, but what about our dependence on foreign seafood? Start supporting local fishermen!

Besides the above reasons for eating more seafood, another compelling reason is the taste. Seafood is delicious! It is diverse in its flavor profiles so there should be something to cater to all preferences. Even if you dislike shellfish, then maybe you will like a flaky white fish or a richer salmon. Fish can be prepared in a myriad of methods, from raw to baked, fried to grilled. Add it to soups or risottos, casseroles or sauces. Healthy, delicious and good for the economy. A trio of great reasons to eat more seafood.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and eat more seafood, especially local.

1 comment:

Couves said...

The question shouldn’t be: Why don’t people eat more healthy seafood? It should be: Why isn’t the meat and dairy people already eat healthy?

Our animal products aren’t as healthy as they should be because we feed them entirely on industrial grain, not the foods they ate for thousands of years before the recent introduction of industrial agriculture.

Check out what Joel Salatin has done to return animals to the land (There’s lots on youtube, plus all the books he’s written). There are many producers right here in MA that are using his methods.

Here’s one:

Sugar Mountain in VT uses cutting-edge permaculture techniques to produce grass-fed pork. Really, they’re just doing what any yankee farmer would have done a hundred years ago: