How to Make Sustainable Seafood Choices at the Fish Market

By Carl Safina, "Sea Change," March/April 2010

The seafood we eat has an enormous impact on our health today and the health of our oceans tomorrow.

"Thanks for a great article. Sure hope lots and lots of people read it. I've been eating sardines all my life (am now 74) and doctors are always amazed at how good my good cholesterol is. I tell them it's all the sardines I've eaten -...

But what if everyone ate herring and sardines; wouldn’t that further skew the foodweb? You’d think so, but not if we were to eat these nutrient-rich fish in place of some of the meats we currently consume. Consider this: right now, about a third of the world catch of those fish is fed to farmed fish, pigs and chickens. This is a great waste of potential human food, because up to five pounds of fish—edible, nutritious, delicious wild fish—must be fed to the farmed livestock in order to produce one pound of meat.

So, farmed freshwater fish that can be fed a vegetable-based diet, like tilapia or catfish, are better choices than large carnivorous fish. Better yet are farmed clams, oysters and mussels, which require no feeding and actually filter the waters around them (that’s how they eat), helping improve water quality and helping prevent plankton from overproducing and then crashing, which can devastate oxygen availability and kill many other creatures.

Next: The Catch of the Day »

Get a full year of EatingWell magazine.
World Wide Web Health Award Winner Web Award Winner World Wide Web Health Award Winner Interactive Media Award Winner