Monday, April 30, 2018

Rant: Seafood Ain't Cheap, Suck It Up

I've often heard people complain that seafood is too expensive, and that they consider it a luxury. Research has shown that when general grocery prices rise, consumers often will purchase less seafood, considering it an easy sacrifice. It is mainly during some holidays where consumers might be willing to splurge on expensive seafood. But, consumers have some misconceptions in this area, and should view seafood more as a necessity rather than a luxury.

As I've mentioned before, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the leading cause of death in the U.S. is heart disease, killing over 614,000 people each year, comprising about 1 in 4 deaths. That is a staggering statistic and should make all of us concerned about our own health risk. It may not gain as much publicity as other causes of death but it is one which is most likely to touch all of us is some way. I'm sure we all have had family and friends who have died from heart disease, and we should be doing what we can to reduce our own chances of acquiring heart disease.

Seafood consumption is a significant key to reducing your chances of heart disease. Since the 1970s, over 20,000 research studies have been conducted on the health benefits of seafood and they have concluded that eating seafood twice a week can reduce your chance of dying from heart disease by about 36%. You won't find another single food that has been scientifically proven to reduce heart disease so much. Low seafood consumption is blamed for approximately 84,000 deaths in the U.S. and 1.4 million globally. Besides helping to reduce heart disease, research has also been providing growing evidence of the health benefits to the brain and bones as well as against cancers and inflammatory diseases. Eating more seafood is such a simple change to your lifestyle and it can bring so many health benefits.

The scientific community advises people that they should eat seafood twice a week, an annual consumption of 26 pounds of seafood. However, most Americans significantly fail to meet this standard. In the last 18 years, the highest annual seafood consumption was in 2005 with 16.6 pounds, dropping to a low of 14.4 pounds in 2012. In 2014, there was a tiny increase, to 14.6 pounds, but the best news came in 2015 when annual consumption actually increased nearly a pound to 15.5 pounds. The trend ended in 2016, when consumption decreased to 14.9 pounds. The numbers for 2017 probably won't be released until the fall.

In general, Americans are falling short of the USDA seafood consumption recommendations by  more than 10 pounds. They are failing to garner the maximum health benefits from seafood consumption, failing to reduce their chances of heart disease by as much as they could. Isn't your health worth the price of buying and consuming seafood? Do you think your health is a luxury?

There are ways to find better values in seafood, though it might also take a bit more effort on your part. First, you can find some seafood which is much more affordable, such as mussels, which are delicious, easy to prepare and very nutritious. Second, seek out local seafood as it often can be less expensive than imported seafood. You can visit some of the local fish markets in the fishing communities such as Gloucester or New Bedford. Third, buy seasonal seafood as it is usually less expensive because it is more abundant in season. If you buy fish out of season, the price may have a premium added to it.

Fourth, check out some of the less popular fish species, which may be cheaper because there is less demand for it. Try wild drum fish, snook, or cobia rather than tuna and cod. These offbeat fish can still be quite tasty and it helps you expand your palate as well. Fifth, if you purchase a fish whole, you can also save money than if you just bought fillets. But, you really only gain savings if you know how to properly cut and slice up a whole fish. That does take some skill but you can find some good books to help you in that regard, or try taking a cooking class on fish preparation. If you are clueless, then buying a whole fish won't end up being less expensive. You should also use all of the whole fish, from head to bones, to extend the value of the fish. Take the time to learn these skills and your seafood will be much cheaper.

Sixth, consider eating smaller portions of fish, rather than a large fillet or steak at one sitting. Even if the seafood is more expensive than other proteins, just manage your portion size so it becomes more affordable per serving. Most doctors would recommend reducing portion sizes of most proteins so reducing your seafood portions shouldn't be a significant problem.

Find ways to eat more seafood, despite the financial cost, as the health benefits far outweigh the other costs. And the potential financial costs of treating heart disease can be quite high so spending much less money to eat seafood is basic good sense.

1 comment:

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