Why does a blog devoted to grassfed meat mention fish? I eat fish too. I consider some seafood to be important for a balanced diet.
But more importantly, the quality of most fish sold in the U.S. has become just as compromised as the quality of feedlot beef.
Today I had an absolutely fantastic whole wild fish for lunch, which inspired me.
Farmed Fish are Not the Same as Wild Fish
When I was a child, just about all fish were wild, eating their natural food, which was usually a smaller kind of fish. Fish were often very fresh, often caught near the place where they were sold, and packed with all kinds of nutrients that they received from their natural diet. Fish were also very cheap, except for a few very expensive varieties.
In some areas (especially Asia), freshwater fish were farmed in tranquil ponds, ponds that were full of the natural food of such fish.
Times sure have changed. Most fish sold in U.S. stores have been farmed and frozen. The fish at fish farms are fed a variety of substances, but the feed often contains substantial amounts of GMO soy, something that was never fed to fish before. Much fish feed consists of various kinds of fishmeal, which consists of the bodies of smaller fish that have gone through industrial processing to be turned into meal. Other substances are also used, which are not part of the natural diet of fish.
I have not seen any studies, but wild fish eating their natural diet tastes much better to me than any farmed fish. When food is natural, truly natural, the way it tastes is a message to you from your body as to whether you should keep eating it. I believe this to be a good indication of how nutritious the food is. Obviously, the use of chemicals and flavor enhancers can confuse this taste system, which is yet another good reason to eat only food that is free of chemicals and unprocessed. Good food is also satisfying, meaning you do not have to eat huge amounts of it to be satiated and full. I have found farmed fish to be watery and tasteless. Farmed fish never satisfied me.
The oceans, lakes, and rivers have become seriously polluted, and some of the pollutants find their way into the fat and flesh of some fish. Mercury especially is a concern.
Even the wild fish you buy may have been frozen twice, if it is cut into fillets. That is because these fish are frozen when they are caught, then shipped to China where they are defrosted, cut into fillets, and refrozen, then shipped back to the U.S. to be sold in the markets. They are often defrosted a second time and put on the counter.
Fish has also become very expensive, farmed or wild.
Most people only see fish in the form of boneless, skinless fish fillets. This was not the way our ancestors ate fish. Wild fish were caught, and often cooked the same day, whole, with all their nutrients. Large fish were often cut into thin strips, and dried or fermented to provide food that could be stored. Some medium-size fish were preserved by smoking and salting, as were pieces of larger fish. Some fish were cut up and preserved by salting. Salt cod became a staple food all over Europe.
How I Find Healthy Wild Fish
It took a while, but I finally found a way to get wild fish that satisfies me.
The best way to get fish is to catch your own, preferably from waters that are only lightly polluted, and process them yourself. This is beyond the circumstances of many of us.
What I do is buy small or medium-sized whole fish, and cook the whole thing in one piece. Best to leave the head on for flavor, but you do not have to. I will later use the bones and head for fish broth, a wonderful elixir that is said to cure anything. There is an excellent recipe for fish broth in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon Morell.
I try to buy fish from the less polluted waters such as Alaskan waters.
The small size of the fish means that it has not absorbed much mercury.
The fact that it is whole means it has not been filleted in China, with the necessary defrosting and refreezing.
The fact that it is wild means that it was eating its natural diet when caught, and should be rich in nutrients.
I will also buy fillets if they appear to have been frozen only once, and have not gone the China route. A few wonderful markets process whole fish and cut them into fillets themselves, rather than subcontracting the job to China.
I will even buy flash-frozen fish fillets, as flash freezing of a quickly frozen fish preserves freshness (though it can never compare with a truly fresh fish), if I am convinced that it was only frozen once.
Just like grassfed meat is vastly superior to the industrial variety in taste and nutrition—whole wild fish are far superior to the farmed variety.
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