I shared recently both the negative and positive news about radiation from Japan and our Pacific Ocean seafood. While there is much to reassure, I know that some of my readers are choosing to avoid Pacific seafood. I decided to share some of my personal research on the topic, not to try to influence anyone’s decision, but simply shared in the hope that it would be helpful to others also looking into the same topic. With that in mind, I wanted to share some of the resources I’ve found for buying Atlantic seafood. This is especially geared towards those who have personally felt compelled to stop consuming all or some of Pacific Ocean seafood.
Disclaimers: I am not saying that everyone should switch all of their seafood to Atlantic, because that would be a costly decision for Pacific fisheries that could be unnecessary. Yes, there is news that there are elevated radiation levels in certain species that carry more risk of exposure, such as tuna, because of their migration patterns. But there are a variety of opinions on how concerning that should be. For those wondering what we are currently doing, we do still enjoy Pacific seafood, but I am buying most of our canned seafood (such as tuna) from Atlantic waters, and when there are options for it, fresh Atlantic seafood about half the time. So I do both still, but have decreased some of our Pacific seafood consumption. Also, when applicable, I have used affiliate links below.
Why consider keeping seafood in your diet
You may wonder why keeping seafood in your diet should be a serious consideration when there are so many concerns about it. Here are a couple reasons to consider it: First, not only is it a great source of protein and many important vitamins and minerals, but it is a very important source of Omega-3 fatty acids (most believe that there are many who don’t make the necessary conversions necessary from vegetarian precursors of Omega-3’s, such as flax seed). Because Omega-3 fatty acids are so important for pregnant women, many studies have linked seafood consumption during pregnancy to a decrease of complications, and healthier, smarter children. It could also be important for preventing depression, heart disease, strokes, and Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Price was also very impressed with the health of those with a seafood centered diet.
Here are just a couple of the studies supporting these claims:
- Study shows low seafood consumption linked to higher risk of small babies and preterm labor.
- Eating fish while pregnant linked to lower stress levels
- Intake of fish and omega-3’s related to decreased risk of stroke.
- Good general information on benefits and risks of seafood
Buying Fresh or Frozen Atlantic Seafood:
I’m sure that this varies completely by store and area, but I’ll just let you know what I have found locally, and that will hopefully help you know at least some things to look out for in your own area. I would recommend asking your local fish market what they carry from Atlantic waters, and checking the frozen seafood section. It’s usually easy to find the origin of the seafood on the back.
- At New Seasons, I’ve gotten whole Mackerel from Norway (delicious, frugal, beautiful).
- Zupans carried frozen mussels and clams that may have come from safer waters (I need to go back and check again).
- I’ve also heard through the grapevine that a local fish market, Flying Fish Company, carries some Atlantic seafood as well.
- A quick Google search for “where to buy Atlantic seafood online” will give you many companies that allow you to order online (just expect high shipping costs, unless you buy over a certain amount and qualify for free shipping).
Atlantic Canned Seafood:
Where I’ve really struck gold is finding canned seafood that is not from the Pacific Ocean. There are actually a variety of brands and options that are fairly easily found. I’ve both ordered online, and bought from a variety of nearby stores (they all seem to carry a slightly different collection). Because many of these brands are considered “gourmet”, checking out stores that cater to the gourmet or health food shopper is a good idea. There are many brands, and while I have found that all of these brands are all higher end, I’ve tried to keep with the more moderate priced brands below as it can get incredibly expensive.
Tuna: I ordered some amazingly delicious tuna from Radiant Life Catalog that comes from the southern coastal waters of Portugal. The brand name is Cole’s. Packed in olive oil, it is one of the best tasting tunas I’ve tried. (It does look much darker than the white tuna you often see, just so you’re not surprised.) This tuna is also high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Because tuna is more likely to have elevated radiation levels because of their migration patterns, this would be the most important seafood item to switch out for those concerned.
A couple other brands that I haven’t tried yet, that look promising (if you eat a lot of tuna, are pregnant, or feeding to young children, I’d check out whether these tunas are low-mercury): Ortiz Bonito Del Norte White Tuna in Olive Oil (from Spain), Frinsa Albacore Tuna in olive oil (in a glass jar) from Spain.
Wild Mackerel: Radiant Life Catalog also carries Cole’s wild mackerel in a variety of sauces that look delicious and are also fished from Portugal waters.
Sardines: Here is where I really struck gold. Sardines are a great source of protein, calcium (when the bones are left in), and Omega-3’s – A perfect health food. Through seeking out other brands I have finally found sardine brands that I actually enjoy eating, which I am thrilled about. (I’ll note my favorite brands below).
First, Cole’s also has Portuguese Sardines that come in a variety of sauces. I’m sure they are great after seeing the quality of their tuna, but I haven’t tasted them yet.
Crown Prince Wild Caught Skinless, Boneless Sardines: These are caught in Morocco, and are an excellent option for those wanting the omega-3 fatty acid benefits to seafood, without having to eat bones (which many sardines still contain, and are a good source of calcium, but not everyone’s cup-of-tea). It’s also canned in a BPA-free can.
Crown Prince Natural Brisling Sardines: Now, these were one of the great finds for me, as I found I personally really enjoy eating these sardines! First, they are much, much smaller, so texturally much better for me (I’m a texture freak sometimes). Secondly, they are smoked, and I found that I LOVE smoked sardines! I was so happy to finally find a brand that I could enjoy eating straight from the can. These are from Scotland, and are also in a BPA-free can. Check out the different flavor options too, available on Amazon.
And just this last week we got the chance to try two types of Matiz Gallego Sardines after finding them at a store we don’t normally shop at, and they were absolutely a hit. They are caught off the coast of Galicia, which has a long tradition of excellent seafood. This company uses methods that respect the biological cycles of the species, which I really like as well.
Matiz Gallego Sardines in Olive oil: These ones are a lovely basic sardine. Our can contained fairly large sardines. My oldest (who is seven) loved them. Because they are larger sardines, they aren’t my favorite. They also have a lemon flavored version, and canned octopus as well!
Matiz Gallego Sardinillas with Piquillo Peppers: Oh my goodness, this is my new favorite sardine! Even my three year old, who usually won’t eat sardines, loved this one! It has two things going for it, first “sardinillas” apparently means baby sardines, so they are small and tender, and not mushy like the big ones can be. Secondly, they have a delicious, sweet pepper sauce that just highlights the flavor enough to make you really enjoy them. I’m a fan.
Other brands I haven’t tried yet:
I also wanted to share a couple other brands that I haven’t had the chance to try yet, but fulfill similar criteria.
King Oscar Brisling Sardines: As I mentioned before, brisling sardines are so much smaller than other types, that texturally I like them so much better. This brand also smokes them, cans them in olive oil, and they are fished from the coastal water of Norway. BPA-free. These are also a great price on Amazon right now. Also check out all of the available flavors here.
NW Polar Kipper Snacks: Fished from North Sea and North Atlantic
Does anyone have some other great brands to add? I’d love to get more recommendations!
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