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11 Reasons to Avoid Supermarket Seafood Gallery

11 Reasons to Avoid Supermarket Seafood Gallery


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Something fishy might be going on…

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11 Reasons to Avoid Supermarket Seafood

istockphoto.com

Supermarkets may be convenient, but they just aren’t the best place to shop for meat. And they may not be the best place to purchase seafood, either. Buy it from a reputable fishmonger if possible. If you don’t live near a fishmonger, however, the supermarket seafood is probably safe.

We simply want to raise your awareness of a few factors that might influence your buying choices. We understand if you have no other option than to buy your fish at the supermarket; not everyone lives a short distance from a full-on fish market with knowledgeable fishmongers at the ready. The best consumer is an educated one, and when it comes to seafood, it pays to be educated. Do some research into the fish you’re buying, and make your decisions based on what’s sustainable, how it’s caught or farmed, where it’s from, and how fresh it is.

If these more sustainable, selective seafood options are outside of your price range, however, don’t let this article scare you off from buying supermarket fish! Seafood such as fish and shellfish offer protein, micronutrients, and other health benefits. The real risks of buying supermarket seafood are minimal at best.

We’re not talking about supermarkets like Whole Foods or independent retailers with full seafood counters; those are usually just as reputable as a fish market. We’re talking about supermarkets where all the meat and seafood are on Styrofoam trays wrapped in cellophane, labeled with as few details as legally required. At some supermarkets, you’re left completely to your own devices as to which fish to purchase, and even though the fish may look fresh, there’s a lot more going on below the surface.

Even the ‘Organic’ Fish May Not Be What You Think

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The USDA has not set organic standards for farmed fish, but you still might see the “organic” label on some imported salmon, cod, tilapia, and shrimp (except in California, where organic-labeled fish is banned until U.S. standards are set). Even though these are still preferable to conventional farmed fish, they may still be grown in open net pens (which can pollute surrounding waters), they still may have been dosed with chemicals used to control parasites, and they may still be fed contaminated seafood byproducts.

Fish Farming Methods May Not Be Humane or Sustainable

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According to the Animal Welfare Institute, many fish are kept in overcrowded conditions. Additionally, many fish farms “can severely damage ecosystems by introducing diseases, pollutants, and invasive species,” the organization claims.

It Might Be Mislabeled

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According to a study by Oceana, a leading nonprofit in ocean preservation, supermarket seafood is occasionally mislabeled. Eighteen percent of the grocery stores they tested were selling mislabeled seafood products. However, a much lower percentage of seafood is likely ever actually mislabeled. The most commonly mislabeled fish include Chilean sea bass (replaced by Antarctic toothfish), Pacific cod (replaced by pangasius), wild salmon (replaced by farm-raised salmon), and red snapper (replaced by a number of white fish).

It Has A Complicated History of Slave Labor

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Slave labor is a real issue in the Southeast Asian seafood industry, so much so that Costco was sued in 2015 for selling slave-harvested shrimp. A yearlong investigation conducted by The Associated Press in 2015 found that Thai fishing companies were relying on the forced labor of hundreds of Burmese fishermen, most of whom worked up to 22 hours a day for little or no pay, to meet the global demand for seafood.

The U.S. was found to be the leading consumer of seafood imported from Thailand, largely because of the supply chains used by pet food brands like Fancy Feast and Meow Mix. Several major American retailers — including Whole Foods, Costco, and Walmart — were also found to use supply chains that relied on enslaved fishermen. Thankfully, a ban on slave-labor-dependent seafood was passed by Congress in 2016 and signed into law by President Obama.

It’s Hard to Tell How Long It’s Been Left on Display

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When frozen and defrosted properly, frozen fish is essentially indecipherable from fresh and can last for quite a while in the freezer case. But once it’s defrosted, it will immediately begin to spoil, and it won’t stay fresh-tasting for nearly as long as would, say, beef. Even with the “sell by” date on the label, you have no way to know how long that fish has been defrosted for. Though most supermarkets are conscientious about the length of time they allow their fish to sit out, some grocery stores have been caught doing something fishy.

The Fish May Have Been Raised on Antibiotics

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Some seafood, with the exception of wild caught varieties, is raised on antibiotics. There has been concern raised in the past about the use of these antibiotics; salmon, tilapia, and other popular fish are given antibiotics from the FDA’s short approved list. Asia’s shrimp farmers also rely heavily on antibiotics, many of which are banned in the U.S. We import about 86 percent of the fish we consume, so if you are choosing to avoid antibiotic-raised seafood, keep that in mind.

The Selection Is Limited

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Your average fishmonger will have more than a dozen options of fish for you to purchase, but only a handful are available in some supermarket fish aisles (and rarely, if ever, whole fish).

There’s No Fishmonger

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If you purchase your fish at a reputable seafood shop, you have the added benefit of having a fishmonger to speak to. You can ask him or her when it arrived, how it was caught, if the fish is endangered, if there are more eco-friendly alternatives, and the best way to prepare it. If you buy it off the rack, you’re on your own.

They Rarely Sell Wild-Caught Salmon

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When it comes down to it, salmon is a healthy, nutritious staple — and the conditions of its farming don’t pose a huge or immediate health risk. However, if you’re being particularly choosy about your fish choices, wild-caught salmon is almost always a smarter selection than farmed. According to the Environmental Working Group, farmed salmon accumulate more PCBs, a hazardous industrial products that can be found in some waters.

Tuna Steaks Have Higher Levels of Mercury than Canned

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The tuna steaks at your supermarket counter have more mercury than a can of light tuna, surprisingly. Small doses of mercury will probably not have any significant effect on your health — but if you’re buying tuna every week, it’s something to keep in mind.

You Can’t Smell It Before Purchase

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At a fishmonger, you can hold the fish before you buy it, checking for freshness via its texture and (most importantly) its smell. Saltwater fish should smell like the sea; freshwater fish should smell like nothing at all. When you buy packaged fish from the supermarket, you can’t smell it until you get home and unwrap it.

Smelly or not, some fish are healthier than others. That’s an aspect of your seafood selection you might not think to consider. We suggest checking this guide to the healthiest seafood before you enter the store.


7 Questions You Should Ask About Your Seafood Before You Buy It

The fish in that package may not be what the label says it is.

Finding healthy, sustainable seafood at the supermarket can be a difficult task. The problem isn&rsquot that there aren't any good options it&rsquos that recognizing the best choices is tricky. For example, is farmed fish a good thing or a bad thing? What does it mean if the package says organic? Here's what you should consider when buying seafood, and how to choose the catch for that&rsquos best for the ocean and your family. This story originally appeared on Rodale&rsquos Organic Life in December 2016.

At first glance, wild-caught fish sounds like the more sustainable, natural option, but that&rsquos not always the case. Everything depends on what kind of fish you&rsquore talking about, the fishing or farming method used, and where the fish comes from. For example, wild-caught Pacific cod from Alaskan waters is considered a solid, sustainable choice, but wild-caught Pacific cod from Japan and Russia are on the don&rsquot-buy list due to overfishing.

The same goes for all wild Atlantic cod. But farmed Atlantic cod, on the other hand, is a good choice because it's raised in closed tanks, which have fewer issues with disease and water contamination than fish raised in open net pens.

Sound confusing? Absolutely. To make navigating the waters of seafood shopping easier, download the Seafood Watch app. You easily search for the type of fish you&rsquore buying to find the most eco-friendly option. The app can direct you to reputable fishmongers in your area, too.

The environmental nonprofit group Food and Water Watch has named the &ldquodirty dozen&rdquo worst seafood choices you can make. These are fish that fail to meet two or more of the group&rsquos criteria for safe and sustainable seafood. Red flags include species overfishing, pollution from farming methods, and contamination concerns, such as high mercury levels. Among the worst offenders are caviar, imported farmed shrimp, and Atlantic bluefin tuna. Read more about the 12 fish you should never eat.

Yes, fish fraud is a real thing. Sometimes unethical sellers will try to pass off cheaper fish for expensive, more desirable varieties. Often this is a case of swapping a more abundant, usually less-sustainable fish for a rarer one, according to the Environmental Defense Fund, such as mislabeling farm-raised salmon as wild-caught Alaskan salmon or pretending talapia is red snapper. The EDF advises looking out for prices that seem too good to be true, out-of-season fish (like fresh wild Alaskan salmon in winter), and outright false labels (like wild Atlantic salmon, which is endangered and not available at all). (This sustainable salmon buying guide can help.)

According to the World Health Organization, eating seafood is the number one way people are likely to be exposed to mercury. Mercury is toxic to the nervous system, and even small amounts can cause serious health problems, particularly for fetuses and children. If you&rsquore wondering how mercury even ends up in fish in the first place, it&rsquos largely due to emissions from coal-fired power plants, according to the United States Geological Survey. Burning coal releases mercury into the atmosphere where it combines with water particles. Rain carries the mercury into oceans and rivers, where algae, fish, and other organisms absorb it from the water.

The best rule of thumb for avoiding mercury is that small fish contain less mercury than big fish due to the principle of biomagnification when a big fish eats a smaller fish, the mercury gets passed up the food chain, so large predators accumulate more. Check out this handy chart from the Natural Resources Defense Council to see which fish have the least amount of mercury and how often it&rsquos safe to eat them.

The Marine Stewardship Council is an international nonprofit that gives its seal of approval to fisheries that protect our oceans by using sustainable fishing practices. In order to earn the seal, fisheries are independently certified using the MSC&rsquos criteria, which looks at whether the target species is healthy and if fishing practices are harming other sea creatures. However, there have been criticisms from various environmental groups that the MSC has actually certified fisheries even if the target fish are in trouble or despite minimal information on how the fishery is impacting the environment. Still, the label does ensure that the fish you&rsquore buying is really what the label says it is and can be traced back to a legal fishery, according to DNA data released by the MSC.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, 90 percent of the seafood consumed in the United States is imported from countries with lax fishery management laws, like China. Due to the lack of restriction, many species are overfished.

There&rsquos also the issue of bycatch&mdashwhen unwanted species like dolphins or whales are captured in fishing nets. In the US, fishermen must take precautions to protect marine mammals, but these kinds of rules are not always enforced abroad.

Imported fish increasingly come from under-regulated factory farms, too, which are associated with heavy antibiotic use, high levels of chemical exposure, and environmental destruction.

In most cases, you should buy fish from US waters you&rsquoll be able to spot it thanks to mandatory country-of-origin labeling.

If you see &ldquoorganic&rdquo seafood, it&rsquos an import. The USDA currently does not have organic standards for fish (though they are currently under consideration). Part of the issue is that, when it comes to the sea, organic is very hard to define. For example, wild-caught fish are excluded from any future organic label because it&rsquos impossible to know what wild fish are eating. So can organic farmed fish be fed wild fish? It&rsquos a complicated question. If you see fish claiming to be organic in the supermarket, they&rsquore likely from Canada or the EU, which have their own organic seafood standards.


7 Questions You Should Ask About Your Seafood Before You Buy It

The fish in that package may not be what the label says it is.

Finding healthy, sustainable seafood at the supermarket can be a difficult task. The problem isn&rsquot that there aren't any good options it&rsquos that recognizing the best choices is tricky. For example, is farmed fish a good thing or a bad thing? What does it mean if the package says organic? Here's what you should consider when buying seafood, and how to choose the catch for that&rsquos best for the ocean and your family. This story originally appeared on Rodale&rsquos Organic Life in December 2016.

At first glance, wild-caught fish sounds like the more sustainable, natural option, but that&rsquos not always the case. Everything depends on what kind of fish you&rsquore talking about, the fishing or farming method used, and where the fish comes from. For example, wild-caught Pacific cod from Alaskan waters is considered a solid, sustainable choice, but wild-caught Pacific cod from Japan and Russia are on the don&rsquot-buy list due to overfishing.

The same goes for all wild Atlantic cod. But farmed Atlantic cod, on the other hand, is a good choice because it's raised in closed tanks, which have fewer issues with disease and water contamination than fish raised in open net pens.

Sound confusing? Absolutely. To make navigating the waters of seafood shopping easier, download the Seafood Watch app. You easily search for the type of fish you&rsquore buying to find the most eco-friendly option. The app can direct you to reputable fishmongers in your area, too.

The environmental nonprofit group Food and Water Watch has named the &ldquodirty dozen&rdquo worst seafood choices you can make. These are fish that fail to meet two or more of the group&rsquos criteria for safe and sustainable seafood. Red flags include species overfishing, pollution from farming methods, and contamination concerns, such as high mercury levels. Among the worst offenders are caviar, imported farmed shrimp, and Atlantic bluefin tuna. Read more about the 12 fish you should never eat.

Yes, fish fraud is a real thing. Sometimes unethical sellers will try to pass off cheaper fish for expensive, more desirable varieties. Often this is a case of swapping a more abundant, usually less-sustainable fish for a rarer one, according to the Environmental Defense Fund, such as mislabeling farm-raised salmon as wild-caught Alaskan salmon or pretending talapia is red snapper. The EDF advises looking out for prices that seem too good to be true, out-of-season fish (like fresh wild Alaskan salmon in winter), and outright false labels (like wild Atlantic salmon, which is endangered and not available at all). (This sustainable salmon buying guide can help.)

According to the World Health Organization, eating seafood is the number one way people are likely to be exposed to mercury. Mercury is toxic to the nervous system, and even small amounts can cause serious health problems, particularly for fetuses and children. If you&rsquore wondering how mercury even ends up in fish in the first place, it&rsquos largely due to emissions from coal-fired power plants, according to the United States Geological Survey. Burning coal releases mercury into the atmosphere where it combines with water particles. Rain carries the mercury into oceans and rivers, where algae, fish, and other organisms absorb it from the water.

The best rule of thumb for avoiding mercury is that small fish contain less mercury than big fish due to the principle of biomagnification when a big fish eats a smaller fish, the mercury gets passed up the food chain, so large predators accumulate more. Check out this handy chart from the Natural Resources Defense Council to see which fish have the least amount of mercury and how often it&rsquos safe to eat them.

The Marine Stewardship Council is an international nonprofit that gives its seal of approval to fisheries that protect our oceans by using sustainable fishing practices. In order to earn the seal, fisheries are independently certified using the MSC&rsquos criteria, which looks at whether the target species is healthy and if fishing practices are harming other sea creatures. However, there have been criticisms from various environmental groups that the MSC has actually certified fisheries even if the target fish are in trouble or despite minimal information on how the fishery is impacting the environment. Still, the label does ensure that the fish you&rsquore buying is really what the label says it is and can be traced back to a legal fishery, according to DNA data released by the MSC.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, 90 percent of the seafood consumed in the United States is imported from countries with lax fishery management laws, like China. Due to the lack of restriction, many species are overfished.

There&rsquos also the issue of bycatch&mdashwhen unwanted species like dolphins or whales are captured in fishing nets. In the US, fishermen must take precautions to protect marine mammals, but these kinds of rules are not always enforced abroad.

Imported fish increasingly come from under-regulated factory farms, too, which are associated with heavy antibiotic use, high levels of chemical exposure, and environmental destruction.

In most cases, you should buy fish from US waters you&rsquoll be able to spot it thanks to mandatory country-of-origin labeling.

If you see &ldquoorganic&rdquo seafood, it&rsquos an import. The USDA currently does not have organic standards for fish (though they are currently under consideration). Part of the issue is that, when it comes to the sea, organic is very hard to define. For example, wild-caught fish are excluded from any future organic label because it&rsquos impossible to know what wild fish are eating. So can organic farmed fish be fed wild fish? It&rsquos a complicated question. If you see fish claiming to be organic in the supermarket, they&rsquore likely from Canada or the EU, which have their own organic seafood standards.


7 Questions You Should Ask About Your Seafood Before You Buy It

The fish in that package may not be what the label says it is.

Finding healthy, sustainable seafood at the supermarket can be a difficult task. The problem isn&rsquot that there aren't any good options it&rsquos that recognizing the best choices is tricky. For example, is farmed fish a good thing or a bad thing? What does it mean if the package says organic? Here's what you should consider when buying seafood, and how to choose the catch for that&rsquos best for the ocean and your family. This story originally appeared on Rodale&rsquos Organic Life in December 2016.

At first glance, wild-caught fish sounds like the more sustainable, natural option, but that&rsquos not always the case. Everything depends on what kind of fish you&rsquore talking about, the fishing or farming method used, and where the fish comes from. For example, wild-caught Pacific cod from Alaskan waters is considered a solid, sustainable choice, but wild-caught Pacific cod from Japan and Russia are on the don&rsquot-buy list due to overfishing.

The same goes for all wild Atlantic cod. But farmed Atlantic cod, on the other hand, is a good choice because it's raised in closed tanks, which have fewer issues with disease and water contamination than fish raised in open net pens.

Sound confusing? Absolutely. To make navigating the waters of seafood shopping easier, download the Seafood Watch app. You easily search for the type of fish you&rsquore buying to find the most eco-friendly option. The app can direct you to reputable fishmongers in your area, too.

The environmental nonprofit group Food and Water Watch has named the &ldquodirty dozen&rdquo worst seafood choices you can make. These are fish that fail to meet two or more of the group&rsquos criteria for safe and sustainable seafood. Red flags include species overfishing, pollution from farming methods, and contamination concerns, such as high mercury levels. Among the worst offenders are caviar, imported farmed shrimp, and Atlantic bluefin tuna. Read more about the 12 fish you should never eat.

Yes, fish fraud is a real thing. Sometimes unethical sellers will try to pass off cheaper fish for expensive, more desirable varieties. Often this is a case of swapping a more abundant, usually less-sustainable fish for a rarer one, according to the Environmental Defense Fund, such as mislabeling farm-raised salmon as wild-caught Alaskan salmon or pretending talapia is red snapper. The EDF advises looking out for prices that seem too good to be true, out-of-season fish (like fresh wild Alaskan salmon in winter), and outright false labels (like wild Atlantic salmon, which is endangered and not available at all). (This sustainable salmon buying guide can help.)

According to the World Health Organization, eating seafood is the number one way people are likely to be exposed to mercury. Mercury is toxic to the nervous system, and even small amounts can cause serious health problems, particularly for fetuses and children. If you&rsquore wondering how mercury even ends up in fish in the first place, it&rsquos largely due to emissions from coal-fired power plants, according to the United States Geological Survey. Burning coal releases mercury into the atmosphere where it combines with water particles. Rain carries the mercury into oceans and rivers, where algae, fish, and other organisms absorb it from the water.

The best rule of thumb for avoiding mercury is that small fish contain less mercury than big fish due to the principle of biomagnification when a big fish eats a smaller fish, the mercury gets passed up the food chain, so large predators accumulate more. Check out this handy chart from the Natural Resources Defense Council to see which fish have the least amount of mercury and how often it&rsquos safe to eat them.

The Marine Stewardship Council is an international nonprofit that gives its seal of approval to fisheries that protect our oceans by using sustainable fishing practices. In order to earn the seal, fisheries are independently certified using the MSC&rsquos criteria, which looks at whether the target species is healthy and if fishing practices are harming other sea creatures. However, there have been criticisms from various environmental groups that the MSC has actually certified fisheries even if the target fish are in trouble or despite minimal information on how the fishery is impacting the environment. Still, the label does ensure that the fish you&rsquore buying is really what the label says it is and can be traced back to a legal fishery, according to DNA data released by the MSC.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, 90 percent of the seafood consumed in the United States is imported from countries with lax fishery management laws, like China. Due to the lack of restriction, many species are overfished.

There&rsquos also the issue of bycatch&mdashwhen unwanted species like dolphins or whales are captured in fishing nets. In the US, fishermen must take precautions to protect marine mammals, but these kinds of rules are not always enforced abroad.

Imported fish increasingly come from under-regulated factory farms, too, which are associated with heavy antibiotic use, high levels of chemical exposure, and environmental destruction.

In most cases, you should buy fish from US waters you&rsquoll be able to spot it thanks to mandatory country-of-origin labeling.

If you see &ldquoorganic&rdquo seafood, it&rsquos an import. The USDA currently does not have organic standards for fish (though they are currently under consideration). Part of the issue is that, when it comes to the sea, organic is very hard to define. For example, wild-caught fish are excluded from any future organic label because it&rsquos impossible to know what wild fish are eating. So can organic farmed fish be fed wild fish? It&rsquos a complicated question. If you see fish claiming to be organic in the supermarket, they&rsquore likely from Canada or the EU, which have their own organic seafood standards.


7 Questions You Should Ask About Your Seafood Before You Buy It

The fish in that package may not be what the label says it is.

Finding healthy, sustainable seafood at the supermarket can be a difficult task. The problem isn&rsquot that there aren't any good options it&rsquos that recognizing the best choices is tricky. For example, is farmed fish a good thing or a bad thing? What does it mean if the package says organic? Here's what you should consider when buying seafood, and how to choose the catch for that&rsquos best for the ocean and your family. This story originally appeared on Rodale&rsquos Organic Life in December 2016.

At first glance, wild-caught fish sounds like the more sustainable, natural option, but that&rsquos not always the case. Everything depends on what kind of fish you&rsquore talking about, the fishing or farming method used, and where the fish comes from. For example, wild-caught Pacific cod from Alaskan waters is considered a solid, sustainable choice, but wild-caught Pacific cod from Japan and Russia are on the don&rsquot-buy list due to overfishing.

The same goes for all wild Atlantic cod. But farmed Atlantic cod, on the other hand, is a good choice because it's raised in closed tanks, which have fewer issues with disease and water contamination than fish raised in open net pens.

Sound confusing? Absolutely. To make navigating the waters of seafood shopping easier, download the Seafood Watch app. You easily search for the type of fish you&rsquore buying to find the most eco-friendly option. The app can direct you to reputable fishmongers in your area, too.

The environmental nonprofit group Food and Water Watch has named the &ldquodirty dozen&rdquo worst seafood choices you can make. These are fish that fail to meet two or more of the group&rsquos criteria for safe and sustainable seafood. Red flags include species overfishing, pollution from farming methods, and contamination concerns, such as high mercury levels. Among the worst offenders are caviar, imported farmed shrimp, and Atlantic bluefin tuna. Read more about the 12 fish you should never eat.

Yes, fish fraud is a real thing. Sometimes unethical sellers will try to pass off cheaper fish for expensive, more desirable varieties. Often this is a case of swapping a more abundant, usually less-sustainable fish for a rarer one, according to the Environmental Defense Fund, such as mislabeling farm-raised salmon as wild-caught Alaskan salmon or pretending talapia is red snapper. The EDF advises looking out for prices that seem too good to be true, out-of-season fish (like fresh wild Alaskan salmon in winter), and outright false labels (like wild Atlantic salmon, which is endangered and not available at all). (This sustainable salmon buying guide can help.)

According to the World Health Organization, eating seafood is the number one way people are likely to be exposed to mercury. Mercury is toxic to the nervous system, and even small amounts can cause serious health problems, particularly for fetuses and children. If you&rsquore wondering how mercury even ends up in fish in the first place, it&rsquos largely due to emissions from coal-fired power plants, according to the United States Geological Survey. Burning coal releases mercury into the atmosphere where it combines with water particles. Rain carries the mercury into oceans and rivers, where algae, fish, and other organisms absorb it from the water.

The best rule of thumb for avoiding mercury is that small fish contain less mercury than big fish due to the principle of biomagnification when a big fish eats a smaller fish, the mercury gets passed up the food chain, so large predators accumulate more. Check out this handy chart from the Natural Resources Defense Council to see which fish have the least amount of mercury and how often it&rsquos safe to eat them.

The Marine Stewardship Council is an international nonprofit that gives its seal of approval to fisheries that protect our oceans by using sustainable fishing practices. In order to earn the seal, fisheries are independently certified using the MSC&rsquos criteria, which looks at whether the target species is healthy and if fishing practices are harming other sea creatures. However, there have been criticisms from various environmental groups that the MSC has actually certified fisheries even if the target fish are in trouble or despite minimal information on how the fishery is impacting the environment. Still, the label does ensure that the fish you&rsquore buying is really what the label says it is and can be traced back to a legal fishery, according to DNA data released by the MSC.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, 90 percent of the seafood consumed in the United States is imported from countries with lax fishery management laws, like China. Due to the lack of restriction, many species are overfished.

There&rsquos also the issue of bycatch&mdashwhen unwanted species like dolphins or whales are captured in fishing nets. In the US, fishermen must take precautions to protect marine mammals, but these kinds of rules are not always enforced abroad.

Imported fish increasingly come from under-regulated factory farms, too, which are associated with heavy antibiotic use, high levels of chemical exposure, and environmental destruction.

In most cases, you should buy fish from US waters you&rsquoll be able to spot it thanks to mandatory country-of-origin labeling.

If you see &ldquoorganic&rdquo seafood, it&rsquos an import. The USDA currently does not have organic standards for fish (though they are currently under consideration). Part of the issue is that, when it comes to the sea, organic is very hard to define. For example, wild-caught fish are excluded from any future organic label because it&rsquos impossible to know what wild fish are eating. So can organic farmed fish be fed wild fish? It&rsquos a complicated question. If you see fish claiming to be organic in the supermarket, they&rsquore likely from Canada or the EU, which have their own organic seafood standards.


7 Questions You Should Ask About Your Seafood Before You Buy It

The fish in that package may not be what the label says it is.

Finding healthy, sustainable seafood at the supermarket can be a difficult task. The problem isn&rsquot that there aren't any good options it&rsquos that recognizing the best choices is tricky. For example, is farmed fish a good thing or a bad thing? What does it mean if the package says organic? Here's what you should consider when buying seafood, and how to choose the catch for that&rsquos best for the ocean and your family. This story originally appeared on Rodale&rsquos Organic Life in December 2016.

At first glance, wild-caught fish sounds like the more sustainable, natural option, but that&rsquos not always the case. Everything depends on what kind of fish you&rsquore talking about, the fishing or farming method used, and where the fish comes from. For example, wild-caught Pacific cod from Alaskan waters is considered a solid, sustainable choice, but wild-caught Pacific cod from Japan and Russia are on the don&rsquot-buy list due to overfishing.

The same goes for all wild Atlantic cod. But farmed Atlantic cod, on the other hand, is a good choice because it's raised in closed tanks, which have fewer issues with disease and water contamination than fish raised in open net pens.

Sound confusing? Absolutely. To make navigating the waters of seafood shopping easier, download the Seafood Watch app. You easily search for the type of fish you&rsquore buying to find the most eco-friendly option. The app can direct you to reputable fishmongers in your area, too.

The environmental nonprofit group Food and Water Watch has named the &ldquodirty dozen&rdquo worst seafood choices you can make. These are fish that fail to meet two or more of the group&rsquos criteria for safe and sustainable seafood. Red flags include species overfishing, pollution from farming methods, and contamination concerns, such as high mercury levels. Among the worst offenders are caviar, imported farmed shrimp, and Atlantic bluefin tuna. Read more about the 12 fish you should never eat.

Yes, fish fraud is a real thing. Sometimes unethical sellers will try to pass off cheaper fish for expensive, more desirable varieties. Often this is a case of swapping a more abundant, usually less-sustainable fish for a rarer one, according to the Environmental Defense Fund, such as mislabeling farm-raised salmon as wild-caught Alaskan salmon or pretending talapia is red snapper. The EDF advises looking out for prices that seem too good to be true, out-of-season fish (like fresh wild Alaskan salmon in winter), and outright false labels (like wild Atlantic salmon, which is endangered and not available at all). (This sustainable salmon buying guide can help.)

According to the World Health Organization, eating seafood is the number one way people are likely to be exposed to mercury. Mercury is toxic to the nervous system, and even small amounts can cause serious health problems, particularly for fetuses and children. If you&rsquore wondering how mercury even ends up in fish in the first place, it&rsquos largely due to emissions from coal-fired power plants, according to the United States Geological Survey. Burning coal releases mercury into the atmosphere where it combines with water particles. Rain carries the mercury into oceans and rivers, where algae, fish, and other organisms absorb it from the water.

The best rule of thumb for avoiding mercury is that small fish contain less mercury than big fish due to the principle of biomagnification when a big fish eats a smaller fish, the mercury gets passed up the food chain, so large predators accumulate more. Check out this handy chart from the Natural Resources Defense Council to see which fish have the least amount of mercury and how often it&rsquos safe to eat them.

The Marine Stewardship Council is an international nonprofit that gives its seal of approval to fisheries that protect our oceans by using sustainable fishing practices. In order to earn the seal, fisheries are independently certified using the MSC&rsquos criteria, which looks at whether the target species is healthy and if fishing practices are harming other sea creatures. However, there have been criticisms from various environmental groups that the MSC has actually certified fisheries even if the target fish are in trouble or despite minimal information on how the fishery is impacting the environment. Still, the label does ensure that the fish you&rsquore buying is really what the label says it is and can be traced back to a legal fishery, according to DNA data released by the MSC.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, 90 percent of the seafood consumed in the United States is imported from countries with lax fishery management laws, like China. Due to the lack of restriction, many species are overfished.

There&rsquos also the issue of bycatch&mdashwhen unwanted species like dolphins or whales are captured in fishing nets. In the US, fishermen must take precautions to protect marine mammals, but these kinds of rules are not always enforced abroad.

Imported fish increasingly come from under-regulated factory farms, too, which are associated with heavy antibiotic use, high levels of chemical exposure, and environmental destruction.

In most cases, you should buy fish from US waters you&rsquoll be able to spot it thanks to mandatory country-of-origin labeling.

If you see &ldquoorganic&rdquo seafood, it&rsquos an import. The USDA currently does not have organic standards for fish (though they are currently under consideration). Part of the issue is that, when it comes to the sea, organic is very hard to define. For example, wild-caught fish are excluded from any future organic label because it&rsquos impossible to know what wild fish are eating. So can organic farmed fish be fed wild fish? It&rsquos a complicated question. If you see fish claiming to be organic in the supermarket, they&rsquore likely from Canada or the EU, which have their own organic seafood standards.


7 Questions You Should Ask About Your Seafood Before You Buy It

The fish in that package may not be what the label says it is.

Finding healthy, sustainable seafood at the supermarket can be a difficult task. The problem isn&rsquot that there aren't any good options it&rsquos that recognizing the best choices is tricky. For example, is farmed fish a good thing or a bad thing? What does it mean if the package says organic? Here's what you should consider when buying seafood, and how to choose the catch for that&rsquos best for the ocean and your family. This story originally appeared on Rodale&rsquos Organic Life in December 2016.

At first glance, wild-caught fish sounds like the more sustainable, natural option, but that&rsquos not always the case. Everything depends on what kind of fish you&rsquore talking about, the fishing or farming method used, and where the fish comes from. For example, wild-caught Pacific cod from Alaskan waters is considered a solid, sustainable choice, but wild-caught Pacific cod from Japan and Russia are on the don&rsquot-buy list due to overfishing.

The same goes for all wild Atlantic cod. But farmed Atlantic cod, on the other hand, is a good choice because it's raised in closed tanks, which have fewer issues with disease and water contamination than fish raised in open net pens.

Sound confusing? Absolutely. To make navigating the waters of seafood shopping easier, download the Seafood Watch app. You easily search for the type of fish you&rsquore buying to find the most eco-friendly option. The app can direct you to reputable fishmongers in your area, too.

The environmental nonprofit group Food and Water Watch has named the &ldquodirty dozen&rdquo worst seafood choices you can make. These are fish that fail to meet two or more of the group&rsquos criteria for safe and sustainable seafood. Red flags include species overfishing, pollution from farming methods, and contamination concerns, such as high mercury levels. Among the worst offenders are caviar, imported farmed shrimp, and Atlantic bluefin tuna. Read more about the 12 fish you should never eat.

Yes, fish fraud is a real thing. Sometimes unethical sellers will try to pass off cheaper fish for expensive, more desirable varieties. Often this is a case of swapping a more abundant, usually less-sustainable fish for a rarer one, according to the Environmental Defense Fund, such as mislabeling farm-raised salmon as wild-caught Alaskan salmon or pretending talapia is red snapper. The EDF advises looking out for prices that seem too good to be true, out-of-season fish (like fresh wild Alaskan salmon in winter), and outright false labels (like wild Atlantic salmon, which is endangered and not available at all). (This sustainable salmon buying guide can help.)

According to the World Health Organization, eating seafood is the number one way people are likely to be exposed to mercury. Mercury is toxic to the nervous system, and even small amounts can cause serious health problems, particularly for fetuses and children. If you&rsquore wondering how mercury even ends up in fish in the first place, it&rsquos largely due to emissions from coal-fired power plants, according to the United States Geological Survey. Burning coal releases mercury into the atmosphere where it combines with water particles. Rain carries the mercury into oceans and rivers, where algae, fish, and other organisms absorb it from the water.

The best rule of thumb for avoiding mercury is that small fish contain less mercury than big fish due to the principle of biomagnification when a big fish eats a smaller fish, the mercury gets passed up the food chain, so large predators accumulate more. Check out this handy chart from the Natural Resources Defense Council to see which fish have the least amount of mercury and how often it&rsquos safe to eat them.

The Marine Stewardship Council is an international nonprofit that gives its seal of approval to fisheries that protect our oceans by using sustainable fishing practices. In order to earn the seal, fisheries are independently certified using the MSC&rsquos criteria, which looks at whether the target species is healthy and if fishing practices are harming other sea creatures. However, there have been criticisms from various environmental groups that the MSC has actually certified fisheries even if the target fish are in trouble or despite minimal information on how the fishery is impacting the environment. Still, the label does ensure that the fish you&rsquore buying is really what the label says it is and can be traced back to a legal fishery, according to DNA data released by the MSC.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, 90 percent of the seafood consumed in the United States is imported from countries with lax fishery management laws, like China. Due to the lack of restriction, many species are overfished.

There&rsquos also the issue of bycatch&mdashwhen unwanted species like dolphins or whales are captured in fishing nets. In the US, fishermen must take precautions to protect marine mammals, but these kinds of rules are not always enforced abroad.

Imported fish increasingly come from under-regulated factory farms, too, which are associated with heavy antibiotic use, high levels of chemical exposure, and environmental destruction.

In most cases, you should buy fish from US waters you&rsquoll be able to spot it thanks to mandatory country-of-origin labeling.

If you see &ldquoorganic&rdquo seafood, it&rsquos an import. The USDA currently does not have organic standards for fish (though they are currently under consideration). Part of the issue is that, when it comes to the sea, organic is very hard to define. For example, wild-caught fish are excluded from any future organic label because it&rsquos impossible to know what wild fish are eating. So can organic farmed fish be fed wild fish? It&rsquos a complicated question. If you see fish claiming to be organic in the supermarket, they&rsquore likely from Canada or the EU, which have their own organic seafood standards.


7 Questions You Should Ask About Your Seafood Before You Buy It

The fish in that package may not be what the label says it is.

Finding healthy, sustainable seafood at the supermarket can be a difficult task. The problem isn&rsquot that there aren't any good options it&rsquos that recognizing the best choices is tricky. For example, is farmed fish a good thing or a bad thing? What does it mean if the package says organic? Here's what you should consider when buying seafood, and how to choose the catch for that&rsquos best for the ocean and your family. This story originally appeared on Rodale&rsquos Organic Life in December 2016.

At first glance, wild-caught fish sounds like the more sustainable, natural option, but that&rsquos not always the case. Everything depends on what kind of fish you&rsquore talking about, the fishing or farming method used, and where the fish comes from. For example, wild-caught Pacific cod from Alaskan waters is considered a solid, sustainable choice, but wild-caught Pacific cod from Japan and Russia are on the don&rsquot-buy list due to overfishing.

The same goes for all wild Atlantic cod. But farmed Atlantic cod, on the other hand, is a good choice because it's raised in closed tanks, which have fewer issues with disease and water contamination than fish raised in open net pens.

Sound confusing? Absolutely. To make navigating the waters of seafood shopping easier, download the Seafood Watch app. You easily search for the type of fish you&rsquore buying to find the most eco-friendly option. The app can direct you to reputable fishmongers in your area, too.

The environmental nonprofit group Food and Water Watch has named the &ldquodirty dozen&rdquo worst seafood choices you can make. These are fish that fail to meet two or more of the group&rsquos criteria for safe and sustainable seafood. Red flags include species overfishing, pollution from farming methods, and contamination concerns, such as high mercury levels. Among the worst offenders are caviar, imported farmed shrimp, and Atlantic bluefin tuna. Read more about the 12 fish you should never eat.

Yes, fish fraud is a real thing. Sometimes unethical sellers will try to pass off cheaper fish for expensive, more desirable varieties. Often this is a case of swapping a more abundant, usually less-sustainable fish for a rarer one, according to the Environmental Defense Fund, such as mislabeling farm-raised salmon as wild-caught Alaskan salmon or pretending talapia is red snapper. The EDF advises looking out for prices that seem too good to be true, out-of-season fish (like fresh wild Alaskan salmon in winter), and outright false labels (like wild Atlantic salmon, which is endangered and not available at all). (This sustainable salmon buying guide can help.)

According to the World Health Organization, eating seafood is the number one way people are likely to be exposed to mercury. Mercury is toxic to the nervous system, and even small amounts can cause serious health problems, particularly for fetuses and children. If you&rsquore wondering how mercury even ends up in fish in the first place, it&rsquos largely due to emissions from coal-fired power plants, according to the United States Geological Survey. Burning coal releases mercury into the atmosphere where it combines with water particles. Rain carries the mercury into oceans and rivers, where algae, fish, and other organisms absorb it from the water.

The best rule of thumb for avoiding mercury is that small fish contain less mercury than big fish due to the principle of biomagnification when a big fish eats a smaller fish, the mercury gets passed up the food chain, so large predators accumulate more. Check out this handy chart from the Natural Resources Defense Council to see which fish have the least amount of mercury and how often it&rsquos safe to eat them.

The Marine Stewardship Council is an international nonprofit that gives its seal of approval to fisheries that protect our oceans by using sustainable fishing practices. In order to earn the seal, fisheries are independently certified using the MSC&rsquos criteria, which looks at whether the target species is healthy and if fishing practices are harming other sea creatures. However, there have been criticisms from various environmental groups that the MSC has actually certified fisheries even if the target fish are in trouble or despite minimal information on how the fishery is impacting the environment. Still, the label does ensure that the fish you&rsquore buying is really what the label says it is and can be traced back to a legal fishery, according to DNA data released by the MSC.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, 90 percent of the seafood consumed in the United States is imported from countries with lax fishery management laws, like China. Due to the lack of restriction, many species are overfished.

There&rsquos also the issue of bycatch&mdashwhen unwanted species like dolphins or whales are captured in fishing nets. In the US, fishermen must take precautions to protect marine mammals, but these kinds of rules are not always enforced abroad.

Imported fish increasingly come from under-regulated factory farms, too, which are associated with heavy antibiotic use, high levels of chemical exposure, and environmental destruction.

In most cases, you should buy fish from US waters you&rsquoll be able to spot it thanks to mandatory country-of-origin labeling.

If you see &ldquoorganic&rdquo seafood, it&rsquos an import. The USDA currently does not have organic standards for fish (though they are currently under consideration). Part of the issue is that, when it comes to the sea, organic is very hard to define. For example, wild-caught fish are excluded from any future organic label because it&rsquos impossible to know what wild fish are eating. So can organic farmed fish be fed wild fish? It&rsquos a complicated question. If you see fish claiming to be organic in the supermarket, they&rsquore likely from Canada or the EU, which have their own organic seafood standards.


7 Questions You Should Ask About Your Seafood Before You Buy It

The fish in that package may not be what the label says it is.

Finding healthy, sustainable seafood at the supermarket can be a difficult task. The problem isn&rsquot that there aren't any good options it&rsquos that recognizing the best choices is tricky. For example, is farmed fish a good thing or a bad thing? What does it mean if the package says organic? Here's what you should consider when buying seafood, and how to choose the catch for that&rsquos best for the ocean and your family. This story originally appeared on Rodale&rsquos Organic Life in December 2016.

At first glance, wild-caught fish sounds like the more sustainable, natural option, but that&rsquos not always the case. Everything depends on what kind of fish you&rsquore talking about, the fishing or farming method used, and where the fish comes from. For example, wild-caught Pacific cod from Alaskan waters is considered a solid, sustainable choice, but wild-caught Pacific cod from Japan and Russia are on the don&rsquot-buy list due to overfishing.

The same goes for all wild Atlantic cod. But farmed Atlantic cod, on the other hand, is a good choice because it's raised in closed tanks, which have fewer issues with disease and water contamination than fish raised in open net pens.

Sound confusing? Absolutely. To make navigating the waters of seafood shopping easier, download the Seafood Watch app. You easily search for the type of fish you&rsquore buying to find the most eco-friendly option. The app can direct you to reputable fishmongers in your area, too.

The environmental nonprofit group Food and Water Watch has named the &ldquodirty dozen&rdquo worst seafood choices you can make. These are fish that fail to meet two or more of the group&rsquos criteria for safe and sustainable seafood. Red flags include species overfishing, pollution from farming methods, and contamination concerns, such as high mercury levels. Among the worst offenders are caviar, imported farmed shrimp, and Atlantic bluefin tuna. Read more about the 12 fish you should never eat.

Yes, fish fraud is a real thing. Sometimes unethical sellers will try to pass off cheaper fish for expensive, more desirable varieties. Often this is a case of swapping a more abundant, usually less-sustainable fish for a rarer one, according to the Environmental Defense Fund, such as mislabeling farm-raised salmon as wild-caught Alaskan salmon or pretending talapia is red snapper. The EDF advises looking out for prices that seem too good to be true, out-of-season fish (like fresh wild Alaskan salmon in winter), and outright false labels (like wild Atlantic salmon, which is endangered and not available at all). (This sustainable salmon buying guide can help.)

According to the World Health Organization, eating seafood is the number one way people are likely to be exposed to mercury. Mercury is toxic to the nervous system, and even small amounts can cause serious health problems, particularly for fetuses and children. If you&rsquore wondering how mercury even ends up in fish in the first place, it&rsquos largely due to emissions from coal-fired power plants, according to the United States Geological Survey. Burning coal releases mercury into the atmosphere where it combines with water particles. Rain carries the mercury into oceans and rivers, where algae, fish, and other organisms absorb it from the water.

The best rule of thumb for avoiding mercury is that small fish contain less mercury than big fish due to the principle of biomagnification when a big fish eats a smaller fish, the mercury gets passed up the food chain, so large predators accumulate more. Check out this handy chart from the Natural Resources Defense Council to see which fish have the least amount of mercury and how often it&rsquos safe to eat them.

The Marine Stewardship Council is an international nonprofit that gives its seal of approval to fisheries that protect our oceans by using sustainable fishing practices. In order to earn the seal, fisheries are independently certified using the MSC&rsquos criteria, which looks at whether the target species is healthy and if fishing practices are harming other sea creatures. However, there have been criticisms from various environmental groups that the MSC has actually certified fisheries even if the target fish are in trouble or despite minimal information on how the fishery is impacting the environment. Still, the label does ensure that the fish you&rsquore buying is really what the label says it is and can be traced back to a legal fishery, according to DNA data released by the MSC.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, 90 percent of the seafood consumed in the United States is imported from countries with lax fishery management laws, like China. Due to the lack of restriction, many species are overfished.

There&rsquos also the issue of bycatch&mdashwhen unwanted species like dolphins or whales are captured in fishing nets. In the US, fishermen must take precautions to protect marine mammals, but these kinds of rules are not always enforced abroad.

Imported fish increasingly come from under-regulated factory farms, too, which are associated with heavy antibiotic use, high levels of chemical exposure, and environmental destruction.

In most cases, you should buy fish from US waters you&rsquoll be able to spot it thanks to mandatory country-of-origin labeling.

If you see &ldquoorganic&rdquo seafood, it&rsquos an import. The USDA currently does not have organic standards for fish (though they are currently under consideration). Part of the issue is that, when it comes to the sea, organic is very hard to define. For example, wild-caught fish are excluded from any future organic label because it&rsquos impossible to know what wild fish are eating. So can organic farmed fish be fed wild fish? It&rsquos a complicated question. If you see fish claiming to be organic in the supermarket, they&rsquore likely from Canada or the EU, which have their own organic seafood standards.


7 Questions You Should Ask About Your Seafood Before You Buy It

The fish in that package may not be what the label says it is.

Finding healthy, sustainable seafood at the supermarket can be a difficult task. The problem isn&rsquot that there aren't any good options it&rsquos that recognizing the best choices is tricky. For example, is farmed fish a good thing or a bad thing? What does it mean if the package says organic? Here's what you should consider when buying seafood, and how to choose the catch for that&rsquos best for the ocean and your family. This story originally appeared on Rodale&rsquos Organic Life in December 2016.

At first glance, wild-caught fish sounds like the more sustainable, natural option, but that&rsquos not always the case. Everything depends on what kind of fish you&rsquore talking about, the fishing or farming method used, and where the fish comes from. For example, wild-caught Pacific cod from Alaskan waters is considered a solid, sustainable choice, but wild-caught Pacific cod from Japan and Russia are on the don&rsquot-buy list due to overfishing.

The same goes for all wild Atlantic cod. But farmed Atlantic cod, on the other hand, is a good choice because it's raised in closed tanks, which have fewer issues with disease and water contamination than fish raised in open net pens.

Sound confusing? Absolutely. To make navigating the waters of seafood shopping easier, download the Seafood Watch app. You easily search for the type of fish you&rsquore buying to find the most eco-friendly option. The app can direct you to reputable fishmongers in your area, too.

The environmental nonprofit group Food and Water Watch has named the &ldquodirty dozen&rdquo worst seafood choices you can make. These are fish that fail to meet two or more of the group&rsquos criteria for safe and sustainable seafood. Red flags include species overfishing, pollution from farming methods, and contamination concerns, such as high mercury levels. Among the worst offenders are caviar, imported farmed shrimp, and Atlantic bluefin tuna. Read more about the 12 fish you should never eat.

Yes, fish fraud is a real thing. Sometimes unethical sellers will try to pass off cheaper fish for expensive, more desirable varieties. Often this is a case of swapping a more abundant, usually less-sustainable fish for a rarer one, according to the Environmental Defense Fund, such as mislabeling farm-raised salmon as wild-caught Alaskan salmon or pretending talapia is red snapper. The EDF advises looking out for prices that seem too good to be true, out-of-season fish (like fresh wild Alaskan salmon in winter), and outright false labels (like wild Atlantic salmon, which is endangered and not available at all). (This sustainable salmon buying guide can help.)

According to the World Health Organization, eating seafood is the number one way people are likely to be exposed to mercury. Mercury is toxic to the nervous system, and even small amounts can cause serious health problems, particularly for fetuses and children. If you&rsquore wondering how mercury even ends up in fish in the first place, it&rsquos largely due to emissions from coal-fired power plants, according to the United States Geological Survey. Burning coal releases mercury into the atmosphere where it combines with water particles. Rain carries the mercury into oceans and rivers, where algae, fish, and other organisms absorb it from the water.

The best rule of thumb for avoiding mercury is that small fish contain less mercury than big fish due to the principle of biomagnification when a big fish eats a smaller fish, the mercury gets passed up the food chain, so large predators accumulate more. Check out this handy chart from the Natural Resources Defense Council to see which fish have the least amount of mercury and how often it&rsquos safe to eat them.

The Marine Stewardship Council is an international nonprofit that gives its seal of approval to fisheries that protect our oceans by using sustainable fishing practices. In order to earn the seal, fisheries are independently certified using the MSC&rsquos criteria, which looks at whether the target species is healthy and if fishing practices are harming other sea creatures. However, there have been criticisms from various environmental groups that the MSC has actually certified fisheries even if the target fish are in trouble or despite minimal information on how the fishery is impacting the environment. Still, the label does ensure that the fish you&rsquore buying is really what the label says it is and can be traced back to a legal fishery, according to DNA data released by the MSC.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, 90 percent of the seafood consumed in the United States is imported from countries with lax fishery management laws, like China. Due to the lack of restriction, many species are overfished.

There&rsquos also the issue of bycatch&mdashwhen unwanted species like dolphins or whales are captured in fishing nets. In the US, fishermen must take precautions to protect marine mammals, but these kinds of rules are not always enforced abroad.

Imported fish increasingly come from under-regulated factory farms, too, which are associated with heavy antibiotic use, high levels of chemical exposure, and environmental destruction.

In most cases, you should buy fish from US waters you&rsquoll be able to spot it thanks to mandatory country-of-origin labeling.

If you see &ldquoorganic&rdquo seafood, it&rsquos an import. The USDA currently does not have organic standards for fish (though they are currently under consideration). Part of the issue is that, when it comes to the sea, organic is very hard to define. For example, wild-caught fish are excluded from any future organic label because it&rsquos impossible to know what wild fish are eating. So can organic farmed fish be fed wild fish? It&rsquos a complicated question. If you see fish claiming to be organic in the supermarket, they&rsquore likely from Canada or the EU, which have their own organic seafood standards.


7 Questions You Should Ask About Your Seafood Before You Buy It

The fish in that package may not be what the label says it is.

Finding healthy, sustainable seafood at the supermarket can be a difficult task. The problem isn&rsquot that there aren't any good options it&rsquos that recognizing the best choices is tricky. For example, is farmed fish a good thing or a bad thing? What does it mean if the package says organic? Here's what you should consider when buying seafood, and how to choose the catch for that&rsquos best for the ocean and your family. This story originally appeared on Rodale&rsquos Organic Life in December 2016.

At first glance, wild-caught fish sounds like the more sustainable, natural option, but that&rsquos not always the case. Everything depends on what kind of fish you&rsquore talking about, the fishing or farming method used, and where the fish comes from. For example, wild-caught Pacific cod from Alaskan waters is considered a solid, sustainable choice, but wild-caught Pacific cod from Japan and Russia are on the don&rsquot-buy list due to overfishing.

The same goes for all wild Atlantic cod. But farmed Atlantic cod, on the other hand, is a good choice because it's raised in closed tanks, which have fewer issues with disease and water contamination than fish raised in open net pens.

Sound confusing? Absolutely. To make navigating the waters of seafood shopping easier, download the Seafood Watch app. You easily search for the type of fish you&rsquore buying to find the most eco-friendly option. The app can direct you to reputable fishmongers in your area, too.

The environmental nonprofit group Food and Water Watch has named the &ldquodirty dozen&rdquo worst seafood choices you can make. These are fish that fail to meet two or more of the group&rsquos criteria for safe and sustainable seafood. Red flags include species overfishing, pollution from farming methods, and contamination concerns, such as high mercury levels. Among the worst offenders are caviar, imported farmed shrimp, and Atlantic bluefin tuna. Read more about the 12 fish you should never eat.

Yes, fish fraud is a real thing. Sometimes unethical sellers will try to pass off cheaper fish for expensive, more desirable varieties. Often this is a case of swapping a more abundant, usually less-sustainable fish for a rarer one, according to the Environmental Defense Fund, such as mislabeling farm-raised salmon as wild-caught Alaskan salmon or pretending talapia is red snapper. The EDF advises looking out for prices that seem too good to be true, out-of-season fish (like fresh wild Alaskan salmon in winter), and outright false labels (like wild Atlantic salmon, which is endangered and not available at all). (This sustainable salmon buying guide can help.)

According to the World Health Organization, eating seafood is the number one way people are likely to be exposed to mercury. Mercury is toxic to the nervous system, and even small amounts can cause serious health problems, particularly for fetuses and children. If you&rsquore wondering how mercury even ends up in fish in the first place, it&rsquos largely due to emissions from coal-fired power plants, according to the United States Geological Survey. Burning coal releases mercury into the atmosphere where it combines with water particles. Rain carries the mercury into oceans and rivers, where algae, fish, and other organisms absorb it from the water.

The best rule of thumb for avoiding mercury is that small fish contain less mercury than big fish due to the principle of biomagnification when a big fish eats a smaller fish, the mercury gets passed up the food chain, so large predators accumulate more. Check out this handy chart from the Natural Resources Defense Council to see which fish have the least amount of mercury and how often it&rsquos safe to eat them.

The Marine Stewardship Council is an international nonprofit that gives its seal of approval to fisheries that protect our oceans by using sustainable fishing practices. In order to earn the seal, fisheries are independently certified using the MSC&rsquos criteria, which looks at whether the target species is healthy and if fishing practices are harming other sea creatures. However, there have been criticisms from various environmental groups that the MSC has actually certified fisheries even if the target fish are in trouble or despite minimal information on how the fishery is impacting the environment. Still, the label does ensure that the fish you&rsquore buying is really what the label says it is and can be traced back to a legal fishery, according to DNA data released by the MSC.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, 90 percent of the seafood consumed in the United States is imported from countries with lax fishery management laws, like China. Due to the lack of restriction, many species are overfished.

There&rsquos also the issue of bycatch&mdashwhen unwanted species like dolphins or whales are captured in fishing nets. In the US, fishermen must take precautions to protect marine mammals, but these kinds of rules are not always enforced abroad.

Imported fish increasingly come from under-regulated factory farms, too, which are associated with heavy antibiotic use, high levels of chemical exposure, and environmental destruction.

In most cases, you should buy fish from US waters you&rsquoll be able to spot it thanks to mandatory country-of-origin labeling.

If you see &ldquoorganic&rdquo seafood, it&rsquos an import. The USDA currently does not have organic standards for fish (though they are currently under consideration). Part of the issue is that, when it comes to the sea, organic is very hard to define. For example, wild-caught fish are excluded from any future organic label because it&rsquos impossible to know what wild fish are eating. So can organic farmed fish be fed wild fish? It&rsquos a complicated question. If you see fish claiming to be organic in the supermarket, they&rsquore likely from Canada or the EU, which have their own organic seafood standards.