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Smart Tips for Buying Seafood at the Market

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When it comes to eating seafood, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is urging Americans to eat more! However, while several studies indicate that Americans are missing out on the vitamin- and protein-rich benefits of seafood and shellfish, it is important to have a guide to help you make better and smarter choices at the supermarket and fish market. When it comes to sustainability-minded and health-conscious consumption, knowledge goes a long way into purchasing the perfect piece of fish.

Plus, we can’t ignore media reports on seafood that include mercury and PCB levels, overfished species, local vs. imported, farmed vs. wild caught, frozen vs. fresh, bycatch, government regulations, fish fraud, and on and on and on…All this can make shopping at your local fish market almost as stressful as buying a house. While it would take several articles to delve into each of these issues, here are a few tips on what to look out for when it comes to your next shellfish or fish purchase to help make the next trip to the fish market a bit easier…


1. Imported Shrimp

If you eat the most consumed seafood in North America, you’re consuming an excellent source of protein that’s low in both calories and saturated fats. However, be aware that containments have been found in imported shrimp that stem from the way it is grown, according to major study from Consumer Reports, the world’s largest independent consumer-advocacy organization.

The study indicates that while U.S. government standards are in place to regulate both domestic and foreign shrimp (namely the FDA’s Seafood HACCP regulatory system), shrimp are still often farmed in shallow pools and can be packed in very tightly, with as many as 150 shrimp grown in a single square meter. This can lead to unsanitary conditions that may negatively affect the shrimp and the surrounding ecosystem. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat shrimp, but for your safest bet, opt for U.S. shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico or shrimp farms on the West Coast.

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