Thursday, October 4, 2012
Is Fish Farming For You? Guest Post By Bridget Sandorford
How to Choose Quality and Sustainable Fish by Bridget Sandorford
While you are unlikely to be growing fish on your farm (or what could pass as your own personal "farm" in your backyard endeavors), thinking about how to choose and source quality and sustainable fish is also an important part of a sustainable and organic lifestyle.
Fish farms use the same deplorable techniques that are used to grow traditional livestock, such as feeding them corn and growth hormones. Overfishing has led to the threat of destruction of vast quantities of fish in their natural environment. Choosing sources of fish that have been procured in an ethical and sustainable way is important to ensure the continued population of these fish and the quality of the meat.
Here are just a few ways you can choose quality and sustainable sources of fish:
Choose Species that Proliferate Quickly
Some species of fish grow more quickly than others, meaning that their numbers are less likely to be diminished in a short period of time. Some examples include mahi mahi, tilapia, and barramundi. Species that take longer to grow include Chilean seabass, grouper, and orange roughy.
Choose Fish and Seafood Lower on the Food Chain
Large fish like swordfish and tuna require more resources to grow (and tend to have higher mercury levels). It is better to choose fish and seafood that is lower on the food chain and that requires fewer resources. Some examples include catfish, sardines, and mussels.
Know the Source of Your Fish
Salmon that is caught in one region won't have the same qualities as salmon that is caught in another region. Your fish should be labeled, but if it's not, you can ask the people working at the store or the fish market where you are purchasing it. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Guide (http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx) provides more information to help you learn about the qualities of fish caught by region.
Know How It is Caught
Wild-caught fish is almost always better than farm-raised fish. In general, farm-raised fish is grown using questionable practices, such as the use of growth hormone. You should also learn how the fish was caught, as some methods are more hazardous to the environment. Fish caught with a hook and line is usually better than fish captured through trawling. The Marine Stewardship Council offers certification for fish that is caught or raised in sustainable ways. Look for the logo.
Buying local means that you can reduce environmental impact by eliminating transportation costs, and you can talk to the fisherman responsible for catching the fish and ask questions about practices. If you live in Omaha, there may not be many sources of local fish. However, you can still buy American ("local" in the larger sense), as the U.S. has stricter standards for fishing and farming fish than some other countries.
Choosing sustainable sources of fish and seafood is important part of supporting quality food sources that do not harm your health or the environment. Anyone who is interested in sustainable and organic farming should also understand how to find sustainable sources of fish and seafood.
How do you select quality and sustainable sources of fish and seafood? Share your tips in the comments!
Bridget Sandorford is a freelance writer and researcher for Culinaryschools.org, where recently she’s been researching top culinary colleges and chef career outlook. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, painting and working on her first cookbook.