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Where should I buy my seafood?

To say that we love fish is an understatement. It’s a really healthy source of protein and essential fats, tastes absolutely delicious and is so simple to prepare (which means it’s great for busy weeknights).

After living on the West Coast and then relocating to the Gulf Coast, I (Kalie) have had the opportunity to purchase, and enjoy, seafood directly from the source. But, prior to coastal living, sourcing sustainably caught, local fish just wasn’t realistic 100% of the time. Hence, the question, “Where should I buy my seafood?”

Wild-caught versus farm-raised

In general, we think wild-caught seafood is the way to go. Simply put, it’s harvested from a natural habitat (lake, ocean, river), whereas farmed seafood is raised in large tanks. Unless you’re able to visit the fish farm to check out the environment the fish live in, what they’re fed or if they were given additives, chemicals or antibiotics, we would be leery of farm-raised fish.

Believe it or not some farm-raised fish, such as salmon, are colored with artificial food dyes. We’re not kidding! Next time you go to the supermarket and walk past the fish section, take a glance at the difference in color between wild-caught and farm-raised salmon. Check the labeling and if you see color added, avoid it!

Some of the most common farm-raised fish

  • Bass
  • Tilapia
  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Shrimp

Does the quality of seafood differ depending on location?

In short, yes. Because seafood from other countries is not guaranteed to be as regulated as it is in the U.S. (think antibiotics, what they’re fed and the environment they live in) you should aim to purchase seafood that is both caught in and a product of the United States whenever possible. You’ll want to check the label to make sure it reflects this, as some seafood is caught in the U.S. but shipped to other countries for packaging.

Organic seafood

A while back, I ate at a restaurant that offered a salmon dish. When I asked the waiter if it was wild-caught salmon, he replied that the fish was wild-caught and it was certified organic. This immediately raised a red flag.

You may not know this, but wild-caught seafood cannot be labeled as certified organic because there’s no way to regulate a fish that’s been swimming around eating and enjoying whatever they please in the ocean. In fact, neither wild fish nor farmed fish can be certified organic because no organic standards exist in the U.S. to regulate them.

The simple solution is to stick to seafood that is both caught in and a product of the United States whenever you can. Needless to say, because I didn’t know where the fish came from and apparently the waiter didn’t either, I decided against the salmon dish.

Frozen fish

We prefer to buy fresh fish whenever it’s available, but there’s nothing wrong with fish that’s previously been frozen. If you’re checking out fish in a display case, don’t be afraid to ask questions like, “When did it arrive at the store?” and “How long has it been defrosted?”

So, what’s should you look for when it comes to seafood?

  • Wild-caught seafood
  • Preferably caught in the United States

What should you steer clear of when it comes to seafood?

  • Avoid farm-raised seafood.
  • Avoid seafood with added coloring.

Where to find your seafood

Don’t be nervous to ask the sales staff any questions you may have.

  • A local and reputable seafood market that has a high set of standards for the seafood they sell
  • A reputable grocery store that has a high set of standards for the seafood they sell
  • The good old-fashioned way… go fishing!

Healthy tips when ordering seafood out

  • Avoid ordering fried seafood.
  • Avoid ordering seafood that is breaded.
  • Avoid ordering seafood that is cooked or smothered in butter or cream sauces due to a high-fat content.
  • Instead, consider ordering baked, grilled or broiled seafood.
  • Ask for your seafood to be cooked and served in minimal butter or oil.
  • Ask your server if the seafood is wild caught or farm raised. Remember, organic fish is still farmed fish.

Some tips, preparation and simple recipes

  • Some great ways to cook your seafood: baking, broiling or grilling
  • Because most fish cooks relatively quickly and can dry out when reheated, we don’t recommend cooking it ahead of time.
  • Baking fish in a foil pack is an extremely simple, no mess way to make a healthy meal. Because it steams the fish, it tends to dry out less too.
    • Here’s a great example of a foil-pack recipe: Lickety-Split Lemon Dill Salmon. If trying this with fish other than salmon, omit the dill and capers. Replace it with some herbs and spices that pair well with the particular type of fish you’re cooking.
  • Another family favorite is Baked White Fish with Garlic Pesto
  • Almost all fish pairs well with freshly squeezed citrus, such as oranges, lemons and limes.  If you’re looking for a no-fail way to season your fish, squeeze some citrus, add a small sliver of butter and season with Himalayan pink salt and pepper to taste!

To learn more about real-food basics, check out the rest of our Healthy Staples!

Cheers to a healthy lifestyle and living FULLforLife!
xo, Pam & Kalie

Hi beautiFULL, We’re Pam & Kalie

Holistic Wellness Specialists and food freedom experts, here to dish out practical advice for a healthier life. Ready to savor real food, joyFULL movement, and a balanced mind-body connection? You're in the right place!

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