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Just How Healthy Is Seafood - For Us Or The Environment?


Guest Blogger: As AARP's Sustainability Manager, Pam Evans has led the effort to incorporate environmentally responsible practices into AARP's internal business operations. She's passionate about educating members on the importance of responsible use of resources, and the direct connection between the declining health of the environment and the health of our, and future, generations.

Are you as confused as I am?

Eating seafood is often a smart choice for our health, but sometimes it can also be bad for us, and bad for the environment. My confusion started a few years ago when I read "food coloring added" on the label of one of my favorite fish, salmon. I learned that most salmon is now farm-raised; meaning the pink color that I associated with this yummy fish is a result of their natural diet. Farm-raised salmon don't eat wild krill and shrimp, so they need food coloring to make them look pink and tasty!  More on farm-raised fish later.

Some seafood is contaminated with high amounts of mercury and PCBs, definitely not on the 'healthy ingredient' list, and why pregnant women & children under 12 are told to steer clear of some seafood. I don't fit into either of those categories, and I'm still supposed to limit one of my favorites, canned tuna, to no more than a few times a month.

Many varieties of seafood have been overfished or caught in ways that are causing lasting damage to our oceans and marine life. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a terrific sustainable seafood guide and app you can download here. It shows the best choices for healthy and responsibly farmed and harvested seafood available by region. The Marine Stewardship Council has great guides on where to buy and how to cook sustainably farmed seafood.

And if you're a sushi lover like me (before you go ewwww; sushi is NOT raw fish! Sashimi is raw fish.) you should know about the sustainable sushi guide.

Okay, I'm suddenly hungry for a California roll and a cold Sapporo. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Photo thanks to Jules: Stonesoup 

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