Christine Talks Fish, Marine Phytoplankton & Parenting

OK, So...Since I'm not the expert on the subject of fish and marine life, yet I think it's an important subject, I had Garden Eats' Christine Dionese address it for me! Thanks Christine. 

Reader Question #1: As a guy who surfs and lives by the sea, I have a lot of respect for what’s swimming around. I just turned 40 and am an expecting father-I want to be sure that what I eat and raise my child to is ethical and safe. Please offer some insight into ethical seafood, sushi and what I should be paying attention to when it comes to choosing fish. Thanks!

 -Grant, Almost Dad, Surfer & Safe-Fish Lover

Christine’s Thoughts: Grant, that’s a perfect question and great way to start off your parenting career! With over-fishing causing endangered species concerns, recent and continued eco-oceanic threats from all around the world, this is a timely topic that falls right in line with the philosophy of minding our food sources. I know it doesn’t thrill me to think that most American seafood is imported from far reaches, farmed in un-ethical ways (similar to massive chicken farms with antibiotic and hormone fed animals) and often caught by methods that endanger other species. Read on below for my top tips to selecting safe and tasty seafood. 

Getting Started: Here Are A Few General Rules To Go By 

  1. Choose wild-caught whenever possible. If you must select farm-raised, be sure to opt for fish that were vegetarian fed an un-treated with antibiotics.
  2. Choose fish that are caught without endangering other species of marine life, including reef and were caught with sustainably approved methods.
  3. When in doubt, consult the Environmental Defense Fund’s eco-safe seafood guide.

Don’t Exploit: There’s Plenty Other Fish In The Sea

If you’re strict when it comes to sustainable sushi, the “the big three” are going to generally be off-limits. You could be eating an endangered species if you’re consuming any type of tuna at all (unless otherwise noted by your chef, grocer or on a menu) These include:

  1. Eel
  2. Salmon
  3. Tuna: Bluefin is endangered while other species of tuna (with the exception of Skipjack according to the World Wildlife Fund) are over-exploited.

Remember, being a savvy food consumer these days is to be a responsible one- this includes what we pull out of the water. With the ecology of the oceans holding the future of valuable medicinal compounds and healing agents, how we interact with and treat the oceanic terrain means everything for our offspring.

Questions To Ask Yourself: The Best Answer To Each Question Is Yes

  1. Did my fish get stamped with a marine stewardship approval?
  2. Was my fish wild-caught, line-caught, heirloom or heritage breed?
  3. Is my fish on the World Wildlife Fund’s “YES” list?

But I LOVE Sushi

I love sushi too, no problem. The same standards that exist for your purchase should for your sushi chefs. Many restaurants engage in marine stewardship programs and have altogether boycotted exploited or un-safe fish. If salmon and tuna  are your regular go-tos, it’s time to kick up your adventurous spirit and try something new. Telling the chef about your tastes is a fun way to order-the chef creates your menu and you get to experience new varieties.

Hannah Wallace of The New York Times Magazine recently named four sushi restaurants in four locales for their outstanding eco-conscious menus. If you’re in the following areas, check out these top-notch sushi and fish houses:

1. Portland, Oregon: Bamboo Sushi. Ony US sushi restaurant certified by the international marine stewardship. They avoid using Bluefin tuna.

2. New Haven, Connecticut: Miya Sushi. Menu lists “invasive species” that threaten East coast shell-fish. Invasive can be tasty- try the crab and snails suggests Hannah.

3. San Francisco, California: Tataki. Offers fish from surrounding Monterey and sources alternative fish choices when more popular types are unavailable.

4. Seattle, Washington: Mashiko. They serve everything from Oregon, Washington and Canadian fish that come from operations that do not return waste from the ocean.

5. San Diego, CA: Harney Sushi & Catch {in Carlsbad}

Know of an awesome, ethically conscientious seafood or sushi restaurant in your area? Please share with other readers in the comments below!

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Reader Question #2: Is marine phytoplankton a healthy nutritional source?

Christine Answers: marine phytoplankton is an excellent choice for many everyday health concerns, or, to say it better- preventing everyday health concerns from becoming concerns at all! So ask yourself, how’s my energy level? Do I tire easily? How’s my concentration and focus? The phyto-ceutical properties (plant containing medicinally valuable therapeutic properties) of marine phytoplankton primarily center around energy, vitality and endurance.

Think back to science class and the energy production cycle. ATP sound familiar? Marine phytoplankton is an excellent source for energy production and endurance, leaving you sustained rather than “high and dry” like most energy tonics. A true tonic is one that acts to accentuate and maintain physiological processes in an effort to mutually accentuate another. This makes marine phytoplankton an integrative therapeutic because of its multi-systemic affects.

The healthy benefits of regular marine phytoplankton use include:

  1. sustained energy
  2. boosting energy
  3. improved memory, focus and concentration
  4. marine phytoplankton has an alkaline ph making it an ideal complement to most American diets.

Some of you may have reached this point and are asking, “what is marine phytoplankton?” Marine phytoplankton is one of the most abundant life forms on earth. Producing approximately 90 percent of our planet’s oxygen, it is one of the most nutritionally dense super foods in existence containing amino acids, protein, vitamins, chlorophyll, minerals and trace elements. You’ll also love hearing that marine phytoplankton is yet another rich source of the essential fatty acid, omega-3 (DHA/EPA).

When choosing which is best, you’ll want to follow the general rules that you would when purchasing all nutriceuticals by asking yourself the following:

  1. Is it bio-available?
  2. Was it made in a small batch?
  3. Does the manufacturer offer independent assay (this second party research ensures what they say is on the label is in the body)?

Answering these questions may not be the most obvious and why I suggest you speak to your integrative health care professional who has a background in nutriceutical therapies.

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Christine's Bio

Christine is an integrative health care specialist, medical journalist, food writer and business development consultant. Popularized by health care professionals and patients alike, her blog, Reaching Beyond Now features a socially conscious take on integrative medicine and the future of lifestyle design. Christine loves teaching people and families how to sustainably design health through food and organic gardening at home. Check out her latest endeavor, Garden Eats to learn more about seasonal kitchen gardening and medicinal culinary therapy.

RUG photo credit | FISH photo credit | PLATE photo credit