Jes Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman magazine and NationalFisherman.com.
Wednesday, 07 March 2012
I just can't imagine it's a coincidence that the day I open up a Roger Berkowitz blog about eating farmed seafood in moderation I also stumble upon an article about an Indiana man whose death may have been complicated by his consumption of tainted farmed shrimp.
I've long been on a personal crusade to encourage friends, family and even strangers to eat wild fish whenever they can. People complain about the watery taste of some farmed fish. My reply is, simply, "It's not natural, so why should it taste like it?"
For my friends who live in the middle of the country who can't always get local freshwater fish, I tend to recommend IQF or FAS wild American fish and shellfish because of the consistency in quality.
And yet, the seafood-buying questions never seem to cease because people are often confused by different species, marketing names and origin labels. I am a label reader, but not everyone is. And I will admit that shopping with my toddler often makes it difficult to think outside the box.
I've learned to keep it simple, so my rule is wild, American and local. Always shoot for two out of three.
Berkowitz admits in his blog that it's not easy to navigate the spectrum of farmed finfish. He says the onus is on chefs, restaurateurs and retailers to seek and find the best producers. But I rarely feel comfortable putting my faith in the person who is selling me something. Berkowitz might be an exception, but I could not in good conscience tell my friends and family to rely on any local restaurant to advise them on good seafood choices.
Even in my hyper-locavore town of Portland, Maine, at a restaurant with an excellent reputation I had a waitress tell me Laughing Gull shrimp was wild. It's not. Nor is it farmed anywhere near here.
When I Googled it, I found an info link about this Caribbean shrimp on the Seattle Fish Co. site — in Denver. Now that's a well-traveled shrimp.
I'd rather have mine plucked from waters I can swim in. Maybe I'll add that to my rulebook.
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