Super Seven Sustainable Seafood Picks-2011

It’s World Oceans Day again, and, wow, has the world’s fish been in the spotlight in the past year or what? This time last year, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill was still oozing across the Gulf of Mexico. And it seems there’s news every day about a threatened wild fish or some irresponsibly cultivated farmed fish. What’s a conscientious fish-lover looking for sustainable seafood to do?

2011-sustainable-seafood-picksTo make those choices easier, Lia introduced NOURISH Evolution’s Super Sustainable Seafood Picks in 2009. We’ve updated that list each year with some new entries. Our criteria are simple: A fish must be raised or caught in an environmentally sound manner, safe to eat, widely available and easy to identify. We cross-check our selections with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s SeafoodWatch, Blue Ocean Institute’s Seafood Guide and the Environmental Defense Fund’s Seafood Selector.

Our selections have remained pretty consistent, though there have some changes. For example, this year, we knocked tilapia off our list of faves. Why? The fish is still an environmental darling – when it’s cultivated in recirculating tanks. But a recent New York Times story revealed that intense demand for the fish has lead to some questionable products on the market. Tilapia cultivated in the U.S. is still a “best choice,” but less than 5% of the tilapia on the market is from here. Much, but not all, tilapia from Central America is OK, and lots of it comes from China, which is definitely a no-no (a new Food & Drug Administration report uncovers serious concerns about contamination in China’s fish farms).

All that makes shopping for truly sustainable tilapia a bigger project than a busy shopper might want. (If you’re a fan of tilapia, try widely available U.S.-raised catfish instead.)

View from the Bay. Watch this video to discover how easy it is to cook mussels — and what you should ask the folks at the fish counter.

Drum roll, please, here are NOURISH Evolution’s Super Seven Sustainable Seafood Picks for 2011:

Barramundi. A common fish in Australia, barramundi is now being farmed sustainably both here in the U.S. and in Southeast Asia. Since they are a fast-growing fish, they’re a great choice for aquaculture.

Farmed Clams, Mussels, Bay Scallops, and Oysters. These bivalve mollusks leave their environment even cleaner than when they arrive because they filter particulates from the water. Even better, farmed versions of these mollusks from anywhere in the world are considered environmentally sound.

Alaskan Pacific Cod. Moist, lean, tender, and mild–if you crave cod these days, make sure it’s from Alaska, which has the most sustainable supply. It’s also marketed as Alaska cod, true cod, gray cod or simply as “cod” (like its less-sustainable cousin, Atlantic cod, so you’ll have to quiz the fishmonger).