Principles To Follow When Buying Seafood

| September-October 2008

  • Beautiful Fish

    Image by Lucas Jans, licensed under Creative Commons
  • Bottom Feeder Jacket

  • Beautiful Fish
  • Bottom Feeder Jacket

This article is part of a package on ethical seafood. For mouth-watering recipes, sustainable seafood news, and myriad resources to help readers stay informed and eat sustainably visit

When you are far from the seashore, cheap seafood is suspect seafood. It was probably farmed, and may have gone through several cycles of freezing and re-thawing before getting to your table.

Avoid fish that has traveled too far. The more fuel used to ship it, the less inclined you should be to buy it.

Avoid long-lived predator fish (sharks, swordfish, Chilean sea bass, tuna), which tend to have the highest levels of mercury.

Avoid farmed shrimp, tuna, salmon, and other species that are fattened with other fish; they tend to have higher levels of dioxins and other persistent organic pollutants. Favor tilapia, carp, catfish, and other species that are fed vegetable, rather than animal, protein.

In North America and Europe, opt for domestically farmed seafood. (Standards on additives, water quality, and environmental impact tend to be higher.)

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