Photo: Mr. T in DC, Flickr
You've seen the "dirty dozen" list for produce -- fruits and vegetables that are laden with pesticides, making it worth the cost of buying organic. But did you know there's also a dirty dozen list for fish? Food & Water Watch -- a non-profit group that works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainably produced -- publishes an annual "do not eat" list.
Why is it noteworthy? As Barry Estabrook, writer at The Atlantic, explains in a recent article, "Seafood guides tend to focus either on species that should be avoided for reasons related to environmental health (overfishing) or species that should be avoided for reasons related to human health (their flesh is contaminated with chemicals). Food and Water Watch publishes a useful guide that takes both concerns into account."
The below fish fail at least two of their criteria for safe and sustainable seafood. The five criteria are: contaminants; status of the stock; catch method or farming method; economic/social/cultural significance (a community predominantly fishes for this species and depends on it); and key species (it's a primary food source for other wildlife or does it create critical habitat for other wildlife).
• Imported catfish
• Caviar from wild-caught sturgeon
• Atlantic cod
• American eel
• Atlantic flounder, sole, and halibut
• Imported king crab
• Imported shrimp
• Farmed salmon
• Chilean seabass
• Atlantic bluefin tuna
The good news? Food & Water Watch offers a downloadable wallet-size guide to "smart" seafood, and also has resources on the site to help you find sustainable alternatives based on your fish tastes (mild, thick and flavorful, etc.).