The Restaurant Scene: (F)issues

The Parkway Inn, Holland Michigan

The Parkway Inn, Holland Michigan

The dilemma: I drew a line in the sand after I saw Food, Inc.: No more feedlot meat for me. That makes going out to eat a challenge.

I’m basically stuck with fish and vegetarian options, which is okay since I don’t eat out that often and have plenty of grassfed meat in the freezer at home. I like being a carnivore. Besides, I’ve been anemic before. The Red Cross turned me down several times in the blood donation line for low hematocrit levels. I know, I could eat legumes to beef up my iron but the truth is: I love meat.

So, tonight we went with some friends to one of our local burger joints, the Parkway Inn. I used to go there when I was in college just for the burgers. But they have excellent lake perch, too. When I asked the server where it was from she said Lake Superior. At least it’s sort of local. 

I figured fish is a good compromise between my boycotting feedlot meat and getting some protein for dinner. But the New York Times said recently that, “when government scientists went looking for mercury contamination in fish in 291 streams around the nation, they found it in every fish they tested.” So it’s no longer just swordfish and mackeral and the fish with more fat that we need to worry about?

Then I read the Environmental Working Group’s fish list. Here’s what they claim is lowest in mercury:
Blue crab (mid-Atlantic)
Fish Sticks
Flounder (summer)
Trout (farmed)
Salmon (wild Pacific)

Not a local fish on the list except farmed trout (which doesn’t count if they eat corn). If you read the 2009 Michigan Family Fish Consumption Guide you can learn about all the contaminants in the kinds of fish you can catch in Michigan. Because my server said the perch was from Lake Superior, I went to page 28 of the PDF.

Perch itself is not listed as a fish from Lake Superior, which leads me to believe that it came from the Lake Superior watershed. But what river or lake? This is so confusing. Thankfully, even though I’m female, I’m not having kids so I can look at the eating recommendation guide for men. Have fun following the legend if you peruse the guide. Depending on fish, size and location caught, any fish could be harmful. Contaminants range from PCBs to mercury to dioxins to chlordane. Choose your poison.

Should I eat fish at all? That is the question that remains.


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