What Fish to Eat: A Few Rules from the BA Foodist


There’s a column in Bon Appetit magazine by the BA Foodist (restaurant editor Andrew Knowlton), who does his best to answer readers’ questions about restaurants, food, cooking, you name it.

In the January, 2010 issue one reader asked the Foodist, “With the buzz surrounding sustainable seafood, why do so many restaurants still serve endangered fish, and what can I do about it?” This is the dilemma of the year for me.

The Foodist responds with a few good rules to keep in mind:

  1. Avoid all farm-raised salmon and imported farm-raised fish and shellfish due to increased levels of toxic chemicals. (Domestic farm-raised barramundi, arctic char, catfish, striped bass, and rainbow trout are fine.)
  2. Eat sardines and mackerel: The rule of thumb is the smaller the fish, the more sustainable.
  3. Avoid Chilean sea bass, bluefin tuna, orange roughy, imported sturgeon caviar, and imported shrimp whenever possible.
  4. And, just because it’s on the menu at a famous chef’s restaurant doesn’t mean it’s okay to eat.

I would add to that: If the fish isn’t local, eat frozen rather than fresh as I mentioned in a recent blog post. You may have to ask your server how it arrives at the restaurant.

And, I’d still be skeptical about any farmed fish even though the Foodist okays a select few in rule number one, above. My question is: What do farmed fish eat? No doubt, corn is on their menu.

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