World Ocean Day! My Top 5 Steps To Becoming A Sustainable Seafood Foodie
By ConsciousDietitian on June 05, 2014
World Oceans Day is almost here! On June 8th people all around the world, from Australia to Canada, will be celebrating World’s Ocean Day in different ways. For me, the best way to celebrate our ocean is to show our appreciation for the food it provides us with. What better way to do that then to take a step back and reflect on our practices when it comes to enjoying a nice seafood dinner.
Seafood can play an important part in a healthy diet. Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, lean protein can replace other high saturated fat meats in our diet, and seafood is also an important source of essential minerals such as zinc (see my post Why You Might Be At Risk For Zinc Deficiency and How To Improve Your Intake). Here are my 5 simple tips to becoming a sustainable seafood foodie.
How To Becoming A Sustainable Seafood Foodie
Eat Smaller Fish – Forage fish like sardines and anchovies do nothing to render images of mouth-watering chow. Subsequently, these forage fish aren’t ending up in our frying pan and instead we are opting for larger, more conventional fish such as salmon and tuna. But we are still fishing these forage fish, so where are they ending up?
Instead of consuming these perfectly good fish, they are generally ground up and processed for use as animal feed (fish oil makes pigs, chickens, and cows grow faster), nutritional supplements and for food for the aquaculture industry (fish farms). Remember that salmon we so heavily rely on for our seafood dinner? It takes about 3 lbs (1.5kg) of forage fish to get one pound of farmed salmon – seems pretty inefficient right? Should consumers bypass aquaculture and be consuming the forage fish instead?
Not only would it be most cost effective, but enjoying anchovies or sardines for dinner can help to support our growing population. It has been speculated that if we all swapped farmed salmon and tuna for sardines we could feed three times more people with the same amount of fishing. If your willing to give it a shot, start with adding anchovies into your next Putenesca Pasta or favourite Caesar Salad recipe.
Eat Seasonal Seafood – Yes that’s right, seafood is seasonal too! It’s hard to imagine sitting down to a meal of chilled prawns during the cold harsh Canadian winters. That’s because prawns such as BC Spot Prawns are in season during the warmer months of May to July. In my post Seafood: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly we discussed the devastating effects our desire for prawns has on the environment. Considering the bycatch, trawled-over ocean floor and sacrificed mangroves, that’s enough to persuade most to pass up on the shrimp cocktail. If we know that the best tomatoes can be enjoyed from July to October then maybe we should apply the same principles to seafood. For more information on BC Spot Prawns see my post from last year Celebrating World Oceans Day with BC Spot Prawns.
See a list of Seasonal Seafood in BC here. Australia also has a few excellent guides to seasonal seafood. Sydney Fish Market lists the seasonality of a variety of seafood for each month. Seafood Experience Australia lists the seafood available in each state for the current calendar month.
Love Seafood? Try Seaweed – Let’s face it – table salt is out and gourmet sea salts are in. No harm there right? Well almost. Some may not be aware that iodine has been added to table salt since the 1920s. This has been done to prevent hypo or hyperthyroidism, an iodine deficiency related disease. Iodine is also essential for normal brain development of a fetus, and a deficiency in the mother during pregnancy can lead to the most easily preventable cause of mental retardation in children.
But don’t fret, there is an easy, yummy and sustainable solution to a growing need for iodine in our diet. One of our best sources of iodine is seaweed and it is found right the along our shoreline and is available for harvest with very minimal effort. As seaweed grows right in the sea, it naturally absorbs many minerals from the seawater.
So swap that seafood dinner for a nice vegetarian meal with a side of seaweed. Just make sure you source your seaweed from a reputable source. Check out my recipe for Japanese Miso and Soba Noodle Soup which uses leftover nori seaweed as a topping. Another seaweed recipe to try could be this yummy looking Seaweed Rosti.