Mark’s Daily Apple
Learning about the various types of aquaculture setups is interesting and useful, but we’re ultimately interested in whether they can produce safe, nutritious, affordable seafood. Wild seafood can be pricey, unavailable, and of questionable merit or sustainability. Certain wild species are definitely worth pursuing – Alaskan salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, to name a few – but there are environmental (overfishing, collateral damage to other important species, structural damage to the marine environment) and health (accumulation of heavy metals like lead and mercury, polychlorinated biphenyl/PCB, dioxin) issues that the conscious fish eater must stay abreast of. Healthy and safe farmed seafood, then, would be a welcome alternative, if it’s out there.
Okay. Let’s get down to it.
Which farmed seafood is safe to eat? Is there anything like grass-fed beef or pastured chicken available in scales or shells?
As a whole, farmed shellfish, when compared to wild shellfish, are very good bets for the simple fact that both lead very similar lives. Every marine shellfish, whether farmed or wild, spends its life in the ocean attached to something – rocks, a rope, a pillar, coral, the ocean floor. The only difference is that farmed shellfish are deliberately placed there by farmers, while wild shellfish are distributed by the hand of Poseidon (actually, the Nereids do all the work while he gets the credit, but such is the life of a sea nymph). Most importantly, they all use the same sea water. They all obtain their food by sifting through that same sea water. Farmers don’t have to provide food. They’re not scattering corn and soy across the water, because it would be a waste. Shellfish, you see, are filter feeders.