Eat Tilapia

Being a Sustainable Seafood Ambassador with the Monterey Bay Aquarium and knowing that many of the large fish in the ocean are being fished to near extinction (e.g. bluefin tuna, chilean sea bass, marlin…), I began doing a little research into aquaculture, as a sustainable alternative.

What I have been discovering, however, is that aquaculture can be equally unsustainable.

For example:

  • to make 1 pound of farmed salmon, you need 2 to 5 pounds of smaller fish (fished from the ocean) to feed that salmon.
  • Many times the fish are overcrowded and this can lead to disease and then the inevitable use of antibiotics. (Sounds like a familiar practice used on land?)
  • On top of that, since fish farming happens around the world, even though the FDA may have banned some of the antibiotics (deeming them unsafe for use), these drugs may end up on your plate as regulations in other countries differ.
  • Sometimes the fish farms are in pens in the ocean and are very susceptible to being destroyed by the elements, e.g. a storm. When the fish escape it can be devastating to the natural habitat as the fish may be diseased (not to mention there are now GMO salmon being farmed).

So, what farmed seafood is safe?

Tilapia is a great choice because it is an herbivore so it does not need fishing to sustain it. It can also be raised in close quarters and is quite resilient to disease.  Shellfish, like oysters and clams, is another good option as they are raised in the ocean and actually clean/filter the ocean water. The farming is extremely sustainable, causing beneficial effects to the environment rather than depleting it.

The best thing you can do is research and ask questions. Grab your Latte and go have a chat with your local fishmonger. Find out where the fish you are buying comes from and how it was caught. You can also ask these questions when you go out to eat.

There are sustainably caught fish and farming practices. We just have to ask the right questions and cast our vote with our dollar.

 

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About Chef Nathan Lyon

Chef Nathan Lyon is known to television viewers across the country for his simple, innovative cuisine featuring fresh, seasonal, local ingredients. Chef and co-host of Growing A Greener World (PBS), Nathan was the creator and host of A Lyon in the Kitchen (Discovery Health and Fit TV), among the final four on the second season of The Next Food Network Star, and appeared as a guest chef and expert on Home Made Simple (TLC) and Real Simple Real Life (TLC). After graduating from James Madison University with a Bachelor of Science in Health Science and a minor in Public Health, Nathan backpacked his way across Europe, learning about local customs, culture, and cuisine. Although every town and country along Nathan’s journey provided its own culinary lesson, the watershed moment occurred in an outdoor market just outside of Florence, Italy: an old woman, agog at the massive amount of produce Nathan was stockpiling, eagerly asked, “Why are you buying so much food? Why not just buy fresh every day?” Nathan immediately dumped out half his basket and began pondering those two simple questions. It was in that market, clutching a wheel of cheese, that Nathan discovered his truth: great food starts fresh. Laden with ideas and information, Nathan headed home, eventually opting for culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in Los Angeles, where he earned a Culinary Arts degree. Since that time, Nathan has worked in many restaurants, both in and out of the kitchen, and has also worked with local growers in California farmers markets for over a decade. Nathan recently (December 2011) came out with his very first cookbook, Great Food Starts Fresh, which has been quoted by Alice Waters and Graham Kerr, in addition to other esteemed chefs. Great Food Starts Fresh is a seasonal cookbook featuring 135 recipes broken down into the 5 seasons: spring, summer, autumn, winter, and... chocolate! Nathan has cooked for the Inspector General, cooked and spoken at numerous charity functions, is one of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s 2011 Sustainable Seafood Ambassadors, and has even written and co-illustrated (with his older brother, Craig) a children’s adventure book, Sam the Clam.
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