reading the fine print

There is much medical research that touts the benefits of eating a diet high in Omega 3s and DHA, especially during pregnancy. One of the best places to get your Omegas is through fish. Not only does eating fish help lower depression during and after pregnancy, but it is also shown to aid in eye and brain development of the baby. Okay. I’m on board. Time to eat my omegas.

Except…except…I don’t really like fish. I loved fish when we were sailing in the Caribbean and we hauled fresh tuna and mahi aboard for sushi and tuna tartare. But big game fish are off limits during pregnancy due to increased levels of mercury and other toxins. I’ve tried wild caught salmon, catfish, tilapia–yuck, yuck, yuck. So what about taking fish oil supplements? A recent study (which, for the life of me, I can’t find) argued that you have to actually eat the fish to get the benefits. Other studies now show that there is no correlation between enhanced levels of DHA and baby brain development. I say tomatoe, you say toematoe?

Regardless, eating fish is a healthy, low-fat way to get protein. I’m trying to make an active effort to get some canned tuna (ok as long as it isn’t albacore) or sardines in my diet a couple times a week.

open-face sardine melt on homemade whole wheat bread. Cabot, seriously sharp cheddar.

I was excited when I found this new brand of sardines in the grocery store: Wild Planet, wild sardines. The box and their website purports that they are “sustainably caught along the California coast.” Great. But then turn the box on its side and look at the fine print: “processed in Vietnam.”

Are you kidding me? They sustainably catch the fish off of California, ship it to Vietnam for processing, and then ship it halfway across the world to Philadelphia where it ends up on my plate? Sure, they may be practicing sustainable fishing methods, but Wild Planet is not practicing sustainable processing and delivery methods.

Don’t even get me started on the canned yellowfin tuna you can buy at Trader Joes.



3 responses to “reading the fine print

  1. So many fish have toxins in them now, I wouldn’t kill yourself trying to eat too much of that. Anything in a supplement is not as good as the real thing (it takes 16 capsules to equal 1 spoonful of liquid). Nuts like walnuts, pecans, and hazel have Omega3. Milled flax seeds (not whole) provide it and some eggs have been injected with fish oil and give an Omega-3 boost. Some breads and yogurts are fortified as well. I’ve never seen hemp seed oil, but apparently that’s got a lot of Omega 3 and 6. There are alternatives…

  2. I HATE packaging like that. At whole foods, the entire organic frozen vegetable section is from China and there are debates on whether or not the organic standards are the same. Eating fish is good for you. You are wise to skip the mercury laden varieties.

  3. Hi Philawriter,

    I work with Wild Planet Foods, came across your blog today and wanted to reach out to you. We get a lot of questions on why we have processing in Vietnam, and I understand the reaction and that can be confusion in this area. Unfortunately, there is no US sardine or tuna cannery capable of processing our volume requirements and the last sardine factory in the United States closed in 2010. Additionally, the US cost of production would greatly increase the retail price beyond the reach of most families. Our goal is to make US-sourced sustainable seafood choices mainstream and thus have a greater impact on fishery harvest practices for the long-term good of ocean conservation.

    The facility we use offers state-of-the-art canning expertise in an immaculately clean, accredited environment that produces higher quality finished products than any cannery we have seen in the US.

    I hope this helps explain the situation a little better. Feel free to continue the conversation with us on Twitter @Wildplanetfoods or Thanks!

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