Tonight we had baked wrapped tilapia, quinoa, and sweet potatoes. Â It was awesome. As I ate, I kept thinking about how I wish the public had more information on which fish are the safest and most sustainable to eat.
As many of you know, I am a bit of a freak when it comes to toxins. Toxins are highly present in a lot of fish, because fish tend to have longer food chains. Long food chains mean that there are a lot of extra opportunities for the toxins to accumulate. Â When a big fish eats a smaller fish, it gets the lifetime accumulated toxin load from that fish and every fish (or other item) that the smaller fish ate.
Basically, that means that if you eat fish (or anything that had a mother), you want to eat lower on the food chain. Toxins are also lipophilic (attracted to fat), so fatty fish store more. This is why shrimp are less toxic than seals Â 😉 It is also why the native cultures who eat a lot of blubbery and fatty seafood that is also high on the food chain end up with the highest toxin body burdens in the world.
(As a side note, here is a nasty story about trash recently found in a whale’s gut. It was a fairly low volume of trash compared to food, but still gross. It contained sweatpants, a golf ball, over 20 plastic bags, surgical gloves, and more goodies….)
Anyways, so tilapia is one of the few kinds of fish that is considered to be “kid safe“. Â That means that it is both low in toxins and sustainable.Â Tilapia eat mostly algae and aquatic plants, so they don’t have many opportunities to absorb toxins.Â The “kid safe” designation is really only true for tilapia from the US or other countries in the Americas. It is NOT true for Chinese tilapia (which is what most of the frozen stuff is.) Chinese fish farms have pollution and other environmental problems.
We have obviously gone back and forth on whether or not we’ve eaten fish. If you aren’t abstaining for moral or philosophical reasons, then fish can be a great way to get essential fatty acids. It is especially important for women who are pregnant, may become pregnant, or breastfeeding to be aware of what they’re eating, because our children are the highest on the food chain as they are nourished from our body. See this article on mothering.com, SafeMilk.org, or the amazing book, Having Faith for more info on toxins in pregnancy and breastfeeding. 🙂 Happy eating!