22 May 2008

guest blog: fish: follow the rules

This guest blog is part three of a 4-part series about the benefits of dangers of eating fish, and how to consume it responsibly. Janet Watkins is a freelance writer living and blogging from the Midwest at www.insidewords.blogspot.com.Please contact me if you are interested in writing a topical guest blog.

Having decided that the benefits derived from eating fish outweigh the risks, what do you do to ensure that what you’re eating is safe? Some basic rules to follow:

• Avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish– they contain the highest levels of mercury.
• Eat varieties low in mercury like shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, Pollock and catfish.
• Canned tuna comes in white and light. Albacore, a large species of tuna accumulates moderate amounts of mercury, and should be eaten cautiously. Chunk light tuna a smaller type of tuna contains approximately 30% the mercury levels of albacore.
• Check the EPA National Listing of Fish Advisories– a map tool on the site can tell you about the safety of fish from your local lakes, rivers, and coastal areas.
• Download a pocket guide– see below.


Cooking Tips to Reduce Pollutants
Those pesky pollutants like mercury, PCBs, dioxins and some pesticides concentrate in the fatty tissue of fish. Mercury binds to the protein in fish tissue; it cannot be removed by cooking. But you can reduce the chances of consuming contaminants by prepping your fish before cooking.

• Remove skin, fat, internal organs, and lobster and crab roe, where toxins can collect.
• Drain fat away when cooking.
• Fish sticks and fried fish fillets are generally made from low-toxin Pollock. However be careful of what you fry at home. Frying locks in pollutants in the fish’s fat, whereas other cooking methods let the fat drain away.

Downloadable Guides
To make selecting fish a bit less bewildering:

Environmental Defense downloadable Pocket Seafood Selector lists the best and worst choice for the environment and also notes which ones within those categories are high or low in environmental contaminants.

Oceans Alive Contaminated Fish Chart– a guide to consuming making the best and worst eco-choices.

Seafood Watch Pocket Guides – provides up to date regional information and allow you to choose fish from your part of the country.

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