Friday, March 6, 2009

Fish-free Fridays

Growing up, Fridays in Lent meant Fish Days. And being the oh-so-adventurous family, fish sticks for dinner it was.

Today, things are a little more complicated. Sure, you can choose your breaded, from the freezer fish sticks. But you may be searching for a little more sustainability – or simply trying to sustain your budget.

Sustainable seafood
Living in Indiana, the closest thing we have to sustainable seafood are the few fish farms that are out there. So anything that we’re eating is shipped in and hardly local, meaning that it's less fresh by the time you get it and has a huge environmental impact from the refrigeration and the shipping.

That doesn’t mean you can’t make smarter choices. Seafood Watch lists a large number of fish and seafood, offering best choices and alternatives. You can even download a pocket guide for one of seven geographic regions listing the most sustainable options out there.

Healthier eating
As a parent, and one who was pregnant not that long ago, I’m acutely aware of the risk of mercury. Interestingly, the EPA states that nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury. For an unborn or small child, that can seriously impact a developing nervous system.

The EPA has these recommendations for eating fish and shellfish:

  • Avoid Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel, or Tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury.
  • Better choices are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish.
  • Eat up to 12 ounces a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.
    Albacore ("white") tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna. “So, when choosing your two meals of fish and shellfish, you may eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) of albacore tuna per week,” the EPA recommends.
  • Adjust the serving sizes for younger children.

Going fish-free?
If you’re going easy on the budget and the environment, the most simple thing to do is consider going fish-free all together. Meatless meal options abound, and having a plant or produce-based diet – particularly if it is local – can make a tremendous difference on your health, your wallet, your local economy and the environment.

And it doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Consider the many meatless options you’re likely already eating: A grilled cheese sandwich. Spaghetti marinara (or alfredo, for that matter). Salads. Quiche, which are honestly more difficult to say than eat. Or consider making breakfast for dinner, such as pancakes or French toast.

Looking for other meatless meal options? Check out these past posts.

1 comment:

Tami said...

Growing up Catholic I can tell you that fish sticks on Fridays definitely got old after a while! Since then I've realized that eating meat-free can be really tasty if I'm just willing to give things a try. The occasional meatless meal can also have many positive affects on your health. Did you know that cutting back on saturated fats by 15% - which is equivalent to going meatless one day a week - reduces your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and stroke?
I just started working for a non-profit campaign called Meatless Mondays which encourages Americans to cut meat from their diets once a week (we focus on Mondays but Fridays work just as well!). We have lots of great recipe ideas on our website. You can check it out by going to