Seafood & Sustainability

Written by Cyndi O'Meara

Cyndi is about educating. Her greatest love is to teach, both in the public arena and within the large corporate food companies, to enable everyone to make better choices so they too can enjoy greater health throughout their lives. Considered one of the world's foremost experts in Nutrition, Cyndi brings over 40 years experience, research and knowledge.

May 15, 2023

As hunter-gatherers, seafood in some areas of the world was a big part of the diet and in others not so big.   Humans adapted to what was available to them and where they lived on the planet.  Not every human had a supply of fish, so we do not need fish to survive.  But having said that fish can be a wonderful addition to the diet.  But quality is of the utmost. 

Crustaceans like oysters are filled with minerals and can be a wonderful addition to the diet.  For instance, instead of taking zinc supplements perhaps an oyster a day will take the zinc deficiency away. 

The problem with many seafoods these days is that they are farmed or live in polluted environments.   

I always thought Norwegian Salmon would be a wonderful clean fish to buy but after visiting the salmon farms in the fiords of Norway I realised they were no better than Tasmanian farmed salmon.  

Like hoofed animals and poultry, farming for profit and yield and not nutrition has taken over the fish industry.  Many fish are now farmed, kept in crowded conditions, fed dubious ingredients, and in all are not a sustainable or healthy option. 

The sport and art of fishing is increasing, more and more people have boats or fishing rods and try their hand at fishing, but if they are anything like my great white fisherman (my husband) the catches are scarce to none and we cannot have too many meals on his skill (he has other skills that I’m proud of but fishing is not one of them). 

Many years ago I learned to net, so on an evening I would go to the river and net small fish to feed my animals.  I only kept what they could eat.  I loved doing it, it seemed sustainable for both pets. 

For me, it’s harder and harder to be happy with the fish that is caught.  The fact that there a microplastics in the ocean and our oceans are becoming more and more polluted as well as the knowledge that we may be over-fishing, I find my fish meals are getting less and less.  Occasionally a friend will have a great fishing day and I will reap the harvest of their success.  The last fresh fish I had was tuna off the coast of Mooloolaba.  

If you love fish and you want to make sure you are eating fish that does not harm your health or that of the oceans and is a sustainable option, then perhaps go to your local fishmonger and ask some questions. 

  • Is that a farmed fish? 
  • Where was that fish caught? 
  • Have you used anything in the processing of the fish? 
  • When was the fish caught? 
  • Is this a thawed fish? 

If you are satisfied with the answers, that it is not farmed, that it is local, that they have not used chemicals to process the fish, and that the fish is fresh, then, by all means, purchase the best quality fish you can purchase, and the more questions we ask the more fish mongers will realise what their customers are looking for. 

Sometimes we cannot avoid ocean pollution, but if our body is healthy then it knows what to do with toxins.  So by consuming a diet filled with real foods as advocated by the Changing Habits philosophy, then any toxins that may be inadvertently in the fish your body will be able to handle and dispose of.  Any food these days without chemicals is hard to find, but less will always be best. 

Other fish other than ocean fish are river and lake fish and crustaceans, these are also sustainable and viable food sources especially if you have caught them yourself.   

Another option is tinned and glass jar fish.  There are some amazing ethical companies that do all the hard work for you, they source the fish, they make sure the packaging is sustainable (glass jars or tin cans), they ensure that they have not added dubious industrial seed oils and other questionable ingredients and additives and they are very much a wonderful source of sardines, tuna, albacore, and Spanish mackerel. 

Finally dried fish.  When I was in Norway I found that you could purchase dried fish at nearly every store, I also saw the thousands of drying racks for the cod.  These wonderful sources of nutrition have nothing wasted.  The liver is made into cod liver oil, the mouth and skeleton of the cod is used to make stocks and the fish are dried to be used when the cod are not plentiful.  This is not something new but something that has been done since the 1800s and probably even long before.  It’s a great source year-round source of preserved fish. 

Like anything in this world, if we are mindful of our purchases and we ask the right questions then we become part of a solution rather than contributing to the problem.  Choose your purchases with care. 

Cyndi

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