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Give up (bad) fish for Lent

February 19, 2010 Environment, Religion 1 Comment
ABOVE: Pike Place Market Seattle WA 2003
ABOVE: Pike Place Market Seattle WA 2003

Today many of you will begin an annual routine, the Friday fish fry during Lent.  Fish does have many beneficial qualities:

“Seafood plays an important role in a balanced diet. It’s often rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help boost immunity and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and other ailments. Omega-3s are especially important for pregnant and nursing women, and young children. Unfortunately, some fish carry toxins that can become harmful when eaten frequently.”

Toxins?  Yes, toxins:

“Seafood contaminants include metals (such as mercury, which affects brain function and development), industrial chemicals (PCBs and dioxins) and pesticides (DDT). These toxins usually originate on land and make their way into the smallest plants and animals at the base of the ocean food web. As smaller species are eaten by larger ones, contaminants are concentrated and accumulated. Large predatory fish-like swordfish and shark-end up with the most toxins. You can minimize risks by choosing seafood carefully.”

Some fish is safe for humans and harvesting doesn’t harm the oceans.  Others, however, are bad for people and oceans.

Local PBS affiliate KETC did a nice 10-minute segment showing the considerable work that goes into a weekly fish fry:


In ancient times meat was expensive and fish was cheap.  For the rich, giving up meat was indeed a sacrifice. Today good fish that is sustainably harvested is quite expensive.   My understanding is the fish commonly used is cod.  As with most fish, quality depends on where and how it was harvested:

AVOID: Cod: Atlantic, Iceland and Northeast Arctic (trawled), and Pacific (imported)

GOOD ALTERNATIVES: Cod: Atlantic (Northeast Arctic and Iceland), Cod: Pacific (U.S. trawl)

BEST CHOICE: Cobia (US farmed), Cod: Pacific (trap, hook-and-line, longline from AK+) (Source: Seafood Watch)

For most of us not on the coast our fish is frozen:

If you buy for your local fish fry, please ensure the fish used is not on the “avoid” list.

– Steve Patterson


Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Chris says:

    It was also to improve business for Italian fishermen.


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