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The Heavy Burden of Choosing Farmed & Imported Seafood

With the recent ruling that food producers are not required to label when using GMO’s in there products, it got me thinking about single origin foods.  We here in the Pioneer Valley of Western Mass, as well as the Berkshires, have the ability (maybe not the means) to purchase many foods that are of single origin, meaning the contents of the products are from one particular place or region.  Whether it be milk products from High Lawn Farm, Maple Line , vegetables from Kitchen Garden, Old Friends, or Farm Girl Farm, it all comes from that particular farm or groups of farms within that region which makes up the end product. Why this is important to me is that I realized is that in the broader more commercial / industrial world of food production,  the goal is to make a food product as cheap as possible, so as to generate the best possible profit.  This means sourcing the world for ingredients, with often times little regard for food miles, health, production methods, labor practices, or overall quality of the end product.

How this relates to fish is this…all wild fish are of single origin.  That local skate wing you bought is not made up of skate wing from 5 different skates, it comes from 1 fish, caught by 1 boat. That local cod loin, yup 1 fish.  That delicious lobster tail? Even that came from a single lobster, caught in a trap and pulled up by hand by a single lobsterman.   We @ BerkShore talk all the time about why buying local fish is so important to the local fishing economy and overall health of our region, but we do not talk about how unique it is that every piece of local fish protein you consume comes from 1 place, the ocean 75 miles East form where I type this post. Paul Greenberg in his interview with NPR (listen here) explains the seafood deficit, meaning that we export our best wild seafood, and import and consume (heavily I might add) seafood of lesser quality. We are addicted to farmed shrimp, farmed salmon, farmed tilapia, and are increasingly, as a nation,  developing  a taste for fish that are engineered to not taste like fish.  Not only does this seafood come with it thousands of food miles (climate change), you are are also potentially eating something that was harvested by companies using slave labor. I will briefly mention also that only 2% of the seafood we import is inspected, and less that than 2% of the international seafood producers are inspected.  So it is really up to you to determine how much you want to think about all the chemicals, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, child/slave labor, and illegal fishing that potentially whet into your 6oz piece of imported seafood.  Is this really what you are after when you have a hankering for some fish?

If you would rather not think about it, & eat a much healthier fish protein with very little baggage, then just choose local or domestically harvested wild fish.  I realize that this option is more expensive, and is not possible for everyone.  But for those who are stuck on eating only farmed salmon, shrimp or tilapia, think about the above, and then go out to your local fish market, or restaurant, and try a locally caught or domestic harvested piece of single origin fish.

For those interested:

Link to “Whats in Season…When” here in Massachusetts:  (Click Here)

Link to info on all Species of Domestic Fish: (Click Here)





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