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.
Bela-Olhao Sardines: These are fished from Portugal, canned within eight hours of being caught, and come in four flavors, olive oil, hot sauce, tomato and lemon sauce.
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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I won’t buy food in cans anymore since the story came out about BPS being the replacement for BPA and it being even more harmful than BPA.
I’ve seen frozen sardines on occasion in the freezer section but living in a non-coastal area, I’ve never found “fresh” sardines that have clear, glossy eyes that aren’t sunken implying older fish.
I’ve been buying Wegman’s organic rope-grown mussels from the east coast of Canada and feel okay about them. They aren’t fed anything, just grown on ropes, eating what they’d normally eat.
The Argentinian red shrimp from Trader Joe’s are delicious and also something I feel okay with.
Other than those two things, I haven’t found anything I feel okay with. 🙁 Here on the east coast of the US, we see a lot of bay seafood which is saturated in the pesticides and other chemicals.
Have you ever seen frozen mackerel from Norway? I just started seeing it at a local store, and am so thankful for that option! And, as far as the BPS, I understand your feelings completely. Since I feel that these foods are so important, we obviously do eat canned foods, we just try to limit it. I would love to live in a world less toxic and confusing. Since we don’t, it’s always a balancing act. For us, I’ve leaned more towards accepting some of the imperfections, instead of cutting things out (I’m not saying that’s the right decision for everyone, just where we personally landed).
We really enjoy the Bar Harbor brand from Maine, especially their sardines and kippers.
Thanks so much for the recommendation! I’ll look out for that brand. 🙂
My family too
Polar. We buy it by the case
Some farmed raised in Germany and under
Purity standards. Tested free of most chemicals, etc
Kim, this is such a thoroughly studied and generously offered piece. You may even have me trying sardines for the first time in my life! Thank you.
Aww, thanks Laura! I had all of these brands filed away for myself, but when I realized how many of my readers were avoiding Pacific seafood, I thought I should share them. 🙂 As far as sardines go, I definitely recommend trying either the Brisling or the baby sardines for your first try, as they are my favorite!
What about fresh water fish? Are ocean fish the only ones with Omega 3’s in them?
Salmon are high in Omega 3s, also trout to some extent.
After reading what I have on the effects of the Fukushima problem, I am continuing to eat fish from the Pacific. I will not eat fish or other seafood from the Gulf; the bottom feeders absorb the pollutants coming down the Mississippi and from numerous oil spills. I don’t ordinarily eat tuna anyway and the affects of nuclear waste dissipated the further it washed out in the ocean. “Real” sardines have been over fished. Who sees the slender little sardines that I saw when I was growing up in the 60s and 70s? In the end, however, each of us needs to consider this information for ourselves based on the best research and science.
What about the wild caught from Alaska? Has the radiation reached their shores?
I’ve been buying an array of salmon, some Alaskan, some Atlantic and also from the Atlantic I found farm raised salmon from Whole Foods. I had never bought farm raised anything before, but the guy at WF told me how they are raised and I felt very comfortable trying it. We absolutely loved the salmon, melt in your mouth, so moist. The WF seafood guy did say he would NOT suggest or recommend buying other kinds of farm raised as they are not raised properly.
From the fisheries who test their seafood (such as VitalChoice), none of their salmon has shown any traces of radiation. So happy news there! And thanks for sharing about your experiencing buying farm raised salmon. Did you find out what they were fed? I’m really curious. 🙂
All commercial food for farmed salmon is soy based. Regardless of the marketing you were told there is no holistic method for farming fish. All are intensive, artificial, destructive monocultures. They use unnatural foods, loads of antibiotics and end up with a product that is substandard. They have to dye the flesh to make it look like wild salmon.
Keep in mind that farmed shellfish are a completely different critter. It’s farming consists of planting it in nature in a method that makes it easy to harvest. It is then grown exactly like wild shellfish. It is all excellent. Do watch canned oysters though. Most are from China, are grown in marginalized waters, and are packed in icky oils. There is a company in Oregon canning oysters properly, but instead of $1 for toxic Chinese oysters, expect $10 for premium Oregon smoked oysters.
Have you ever tried Tonnino Tuna?! It’s probably the BEST tuna I have ever tried in my life, it’s hard for me not to want to eat 3 jars! Ventresca, ahhh swoon!
I haven’t! I will have to try it! Thanks. 🙂
just thought I should let you know New Zealand is not near the Atlantic Ocean, it’s in the Southern Pacific Ocean like Australia as such I don’t think they are affected as the currents don’t sweep south as much as west.
Very interesting information though , thanks
Ha! Sorry, about that. You may be right that they aren’t affected in the same way, but I went ahead and reworded that section, as I really just need to go back and check where they came from for sure. Thanks!
You are so close to Canada. Why did you not mention any of their products?
Thanks so much.
I appreciate all the research you have done on this subject! Very informative.
The Whole Foods website has a recent post on their farm-raised salmon, but it says nothing about the nutritional composition of the fish or their diet. It’s all about toxicity and environmental impact. They do acknowledge that they allow growers to use “colorants” as long as these are natural, not synthetic. But, as one commenter said, why do the fish need colorant? It definitely suggests something is different (and likely inadequate) about the fish’s diet. I think I’ll stick with wild Alaskan salmon until I learn more.
I’ve been enjoying King Oscar brand, double layer brisling sardines in extra virgin olive oil for the last few years. I’m on the East Coast, and found them at Wal-Mart @ $2.57/3/75 oz tin , one of the few things I go there for!…They are harvested off Norway, and packed in Poland. After reading your great info here, I just sent them an email, inquiring if they are BPA or any other additive-free, as it is not clarified on their website. I’ll let you know when I get a response.
Thanks for all your great posts!
King Oscars Mackerel fillets are where it’s at for me! I eat a can a day with a salad and it’s a delicious combination.
Thank you so much for this valuable info! Really odd how the Fukushima disaster is not being publicised. Yet you read all about fish numbers declining drastically especially in the Pacific. It’s pretty plain. Thank you for sharing safe brand to eat.
I have just found this blog and find it very informative and love the responses. We have given up all Pacific fish after the spill and I’ve been searching for Atlantic and other ocean brands. I got a lot of hints of where and what to search for here and thank everyone for that.
I have been able to find and try some of the brands mentioned and will be looking for more of them now.
What about atlantic tuna? I cannot find any brand of canned tuna caught and processed in the northeast. I live in Maine and every summer ob Baileys Island they have tuna tournaments and in line waiting for the tuna auctions to begin are Japanese and Chinese dealers. I will no longer eat any product from the pacific or feed it to my family. Does anyone know of north atlantic tuna companies?