Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Serving Fish?

Planning your wedding menu is no small task. Having a great caterer is the first step - someone who makes incredible food and utilizes the best ingredients ~ while maintaining sustainability and providing local, organic produce, cheeses and meats. The next step is educating yourself about individual foods and dishes, and making informed decisions.

Being an ocean-bordering area, a lot of seafood is served at weddings and other big events in the mid-Atlantic region. Fish is a fine choice for a healthful and sophisticated entree options - but which fish are best? Some breeds and types of seafood are farmed in ways that are harmful to the ocean environment, others has less impact.

photo by balance photography

Another factor is contaiminants. 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.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium has published a helpful guide so you and make informed decisions about the seafood you select. It's call the Seafood Watch. Be sure to check their website each months for the latest updates!

It breaks down like this...

BEST CHOICES ~ These types of seafood are abundant, well-managed and caught/farmed in environmentally friendly ways.

Arctic Char (farmed)
Barramundi (US farmed)
Catfish (US farmed)
Clams, Mussels, Oysters (farmed)
Clams: Softshell/Steamers (wild)
Crab: Dungeness, Snow (Canada)
Croaker: Atlantic
Halibut: Pacific
Herring: Atlantic/Sardines
Lobster: Spiny (US)
Pollock (Alaska wild)
Salmon (Alaska wild)
Scallops: Bay (farmed)
Squid: Longfin (US)
Striped Bass (farmed or wild)
Sturgeon, Caviar (farmed)
Swordfish (Canada, US harpoon, handline)
Tilapia (US farmed)
Trout: Raibow (farmed)
Tuna: Albacore (British Columbia, US troll/pole)
Tuna: Skipjack (troll/pole)

GOOD ALTERNATIVES ~ These varieties are options to consider, but environmentalists have concerns with how they are farmed/caught and with the health of their habitat due to human impact.

Basa/Tra (farmed)
Black Sea Bass
Clams: Atlantic Surf, Hard, Ocean Quahog (wild)
Crab: Blue, Jonah, King (Alaska), Snow (US)
Crab: Imitation/Surimi
Haddock (hook & line)
Hake: Silver, Red and Offshore
Lobster: American/Maine
Mahi mahi/Dolphinfish (US)
Oysters (wild)
Scallops: Sea (Canada and Northeast)
Shrimp: Northern
Shrimp (US farmed or wild)
Swordfish (US longline)
Tilefish (Mid-Atlantic)
Tuna: Bigeye, Yellowfin (troll/pole)
Tuna: canned light, canned white/Albacore

AVOID ~ These fish are farmed/caught in ways that harm other marine life and/or the ocean environment.

Chilean Seabass/Toothfish
Cod: Atlantic
Crab: King (imported)
Dogfish (Atlantic)
Flounders, Soles (Atlantic)
Haddock (trawled)
Hake: White
Halibut: Atlantic
Mahi mahi/Dolphinfish (imported)
Orange Roughy
Salmon (farmed, including Atlantic)
Scallops: Sea (Mid-Atlantic)
Sharks and Skates
Shrimp (imported farmed or wild)
Snapper: Red
Sturgeon, Caviar (imported wild)
Sowrdfish (imported)
Tilefish (Southeast)
Tuna: Albacore, Bigeye, Yellowfin (longline)
Tuna: Bluefin

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