Even Animals living in the deepest places on Earth have been found contaminated, confirming fears that manmade industrial contaminants have affected the most remote and inaccessible places on the planet.
Therefore fish can either serve as a power food and a boost of protein or an absolute inflammatory, toxic nightmare for your body. It’s all about the choices you make. That why it’s very important to pay attention to the fish you allow in your stomach.
#1 – Imported catfish
If you are thinking that what you enjoy eating in your dish is a Swai and Basa catfish, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but it’s not. It is rather a fish called pangasius.
So it’s good to know that the two varieties of catfish imported and sold nationwide aren’t considered catfish by the federal government. Therefore, they don’t even undergo the same inspection rules as other imported fish.
Moreover, about 90 percent of the catfish sold in the U.S is actually imported from Vietnam. The latter country is known for using a broad range of antibiotics, pesticides, and disinfectants that are completely prohibited in the U.S.
What can you eat instead? Marianne Cufone who is a director of the Fish Program at Food & Water Watch advises people to opt for domestic and farm-raised catfish as they are the best fish you can ever eat. She adds that you can also try more of the Asian carp which taste like catfish.
#2 – Caviar
According to the Food and Water Watch report, the most interesting and valuable fish in the world, namely beluga and wild-caught sturgeon, are highly vulnerable to extinction due to overfishing.
Also, the increase in dam building that contaminates the water in which they live endangers their existence. As a consequence, the production of egg fish, aka caviar, is susceptible if not protected.
Another important point to mention is that all forms of caviar coming from fish that take quite a good time to mature means that it also takes a while for populations to be rebounded.
What can you eat instead? If you are so much into it and cannot escape it in your dishes then why not try fish eggs from American Lake Sturgeon or American Hackleback or Shovelnose Sturgeon caviar from the Mississippi River system.
#3 – Atlantic Cod
Back in history, Atlantic cod is a species proven to be vitally important to the economic health of New England fishermen but the heavy fishing, the low stock status, and mismanagement by the National Marine Fisheries Service over the last thousand years have taken its toll.
In the late 1990s, catastrophe struck and the fishery collapsed as a result. Nowadays, the species are found in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species to be one step away from extinction.
What can you eat instead? It’s time for some good news, the Pacific cod stocks are still strong and are one of the best fish picks of Food and Water Watch.
#4 – American Eel
The slow maturity of this fish along with the heavy fishing in many parts of the world are factors that have brought some populations to collapse.
The American Eel is added to this list because it is found to be highly contaminated by mercury and PCBs. In addition to that, pollution and overharvesting are major issues which the fisheries are seriously suffering from.
What can you eat instead? You can go for Atlantic- or Pacific-caught squid in order to enjoy a taste quite similar to that of the American eel.
#5 – Imported shrimp
Is shrimp good for you? Well, let’s learn about the important facts and the answer will find you! According to Cufone, about 90 percent of shrimp is actually imported and sold in the U.S and guess what? It is considered one of the filthiest of the “dirty dozen”.
She also added that this imported farmed shrimp comes highly contaminated with antibiotics and residues that are left from the chemicals used to clean pens. Not only that, you can add a long list of filth like mouse hair, rat hair, pieces of insects, and even E.coli.
This goes back to the fact that less than 2 percent of imported seafood like shrimp, catfish, crab and many others, do actually go under inspection rules before they are sold. For this reason, it is better and safer to opt for domestic seafood.
What can you eat instead? You can always make good and healthy choices. About 70 percent of domestic shrimp is from the Gulf of Mexico. The latter relies heavily on it for economic reasons. So, this is a good choice you can make instead of opting for the imported one.
Another good choice will be that of Pink shrimp coming from Oregon where the fisheries are certified under the stringent Marine Stewardship Council guidelines.
#6 – Atlantic flatfish
It’s better to leave these fish at the sea. These species are caught off the Atlantic coast and they include a group of flounder, sole, and halibut. Due to contamination levels and heavy fishing in the 1800s, they’ve made their way to this list and are presented among the fish you’d better stay away from.
Food and Water Watch says that these fish are 1 percent low which makes them far from being considered sustainable for long-term fishing.
What can you eat instead? Even if the Pacific Halibut is doing well, still you are strongly recommended to replace this group of fish with other white-fleshed fish, like the domestic farmed catfish or tilapia.
#7 – Atlantic salmon (both
wild-caught and farmed)
If there was ever a fish you should never eat, this is it ‘’ Atlantic salmon’’. Why? First, because it’s illegal due to the low stock which is said to be a result of farmed salmon.
The latter is very polluting as when thousands of fish cram into pens, diseases and parasites come to grow and cannot be fought unless antibiotics and pesticides are used. Again, some fish may run away and compete with other native fish for survival which will likely lead to a decline in native population.
In addition to all this, the U.S Food and Drug Administration found that most of the salmon in the market labeled as “Atlantic salmon’’ is actually a farmed one, meaning fish are actually raised in conditions that have been shown to be ridden with pesticides, feces, bacteria, and parasites.
What can you eat instead? Why not opt for wild Alaskan salmon.
#8 – Imported king crab
An estimated 75 percent of King Crab is imported from Russia, a country where unsustainable fishing practices are very common and aren’t strongly enforced. Cufone said that king crab is suffering from identity crisis, as very often, imported King crab is misnamed by people and even mislabeled in supermarkets as Alaskan king crab.
What people might not be aware of is that the “imported king crab” and “Alaskan king crab” are totally different. The latter is more wisely and responsibly harvested than the former.
What can you eat instead? Because you really have to avoid something called imported king crab, you should always pay attention to what the label says. And sometimes even if the label makes claims like “imported” and “Alaskan,” the majority of King crab is actually imported from Russia as it has been aforementioned. The solution? you’d better go domestic.
#9 – Shark
Sharks are among the fish you should never eat for some good reasons. The first could be that sharks or bosses of the sea as I like to call them are very high on the food chain which means high mercury levels that could be life-threatening to humans, says Cufone.
Another reason could be the ocean ecosystems. The latter suffer too, as the number of sharks is depleting, the number of cownose rays and jellyfish are increasing because only fewer sharks are there to eat them. Therefore, scallops and other fish are eaten by rays. This results in an economic strain on coastal communities that depend on those fisheries.
What can you eat instead? Pacific halibut and Atlantic mackerel can be the best alternative for sharks.
#10 – Orange Roughy
Orange roughy, or slimehead as they are generally known in the scientific community, is high in mercury levels. They can live to be 150 years old and they mature slowly and produce late in life.
Orange roughy can take between twenty to forty years to reach sexual maturity. This fact makes it very hard for this fish to have offspring and recover from the heavy fishing.
In addition, Orange roughy is being irresponsibly harvested. Also, they aren’t certified by the Marine Stewardship Council. So, if you see your grocer freezers popping out with it and even mislabeled for “sustainably harvested.” Just walk away and ignore what you see.
Many large and known restaurants refuse to serve it in their menus, one of them is Red Lobster restaurant.
What can you eat instead? If you really can’t do without the orange roughy in your recipes, then you probably should try the yellow snapper or even better go for the domestic catfish.
#11 – Atlantic Bluefin Tuna
The International Union for Conservation of Nature reported that Atlantic Bluefin Tuna is endangered and will soon become extinct because of the overfishing and unwise harvesting.
According to a recent analysis published by The New York Times, all types of Atlantic Bluefin tuna contain higher levels of mercury. Instead of wasting time and energy in deciding which tuna is best, it’s better to give it all up and switch to a healthier alternative such as Alaska wild-caught salmon.
What can you eat instead? But in case you can’t imagine your life without tuna, you can go for the Canadian or the American tuna. Albacore tuna is caught while young and doesn’t contain high levels of mercury. Of course, don’t forget to stay away from the imported one.
#12 – Chilean Sea Bass
Not all that is said to you is necessarily true. Although the US Department of State says that illegal harvesting is significantly declining in the last years, most of the Chilean sea bass is actually illegally captured by fishermen and are sold in the U.S.
Chilean sea bass is said to be high in mercury levels according to the Food and Water. Moreover, the nonprofit Greenpeace estimates that within the five coming years the entire species could be commercially extinct due to the very bad and low fish’s stock.
What can you eat instead? It’s true that these fish are a delicacy, but you can replace it with the U.S hook-and-line-caught haddock and still enjoy the good taste and texture!
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