Remember the bread-is-to-crumb logic section on the SAT’s? Or how about the interminable hours spent in Mr. Johnson’s English Lit class deconstructing the deeper meaning of that tree in that poem by that guy? The latest and greatest fish debate is worse.
Environmentalists, food lobbyists, and fishermen and women everywhere are in a big huff over whether we should label certain fish as organic or not.
Take a wild salmon and a farm-raised, sea-lice-infested, sick salmon. Which one is organic?
It’s not a trick question. The fish furor (as reported in the New York Times today) is because the government is likely to permit only farm-raised fish to be called organic. That means pristine, wild, icy-water Alaskan salmon cannot be labeled organic.
This is not a joke.
The reason wild, and ostensibly healthier, fish cannot be labeled organic is because we don’t know where their food comes from. And the official requirements of organic food include strict feeding rules. That’s great for a chicken, clucking around in a cage in Omaha. By all means, feed that darn chicken some organic seeds! But the day a wild, clean, natural Alaskan salmon cannot be labeled organic is the day I officially conclude our government employees did not sit through Mr. Johnson’s English Lit class.
The debate gets more complicated (as if we care). Evidently, because salmon are not vegetarian fish, said fish fishers cannot prove that the fish these salmon eat in their natural habitats are also organic. (It’s okay if you have to read that a few times.)
However, a farmed fish, infected with sea-lice, raised so quickly it doesn’t have adequate Omega-3 levels, and crowded in with other fish like, oh, I don’t know…sardines… can be labeled organic. Because we know where its food comes from.
On the other side of the net, one organic-fish-scandal expert says that to allow wild salmon organic status is just really disrespectful to the meaning of organic. Organic, by definition, means organic feed. In other words, we’re following the rules because those are the rules, rather than remembering that rules exist to serve our needs. If a rule doesn’t serve a need or reflect a situation accurately, it needs to be modified. End of story. No deeper meaning, no semantic salmon. Let’s remember the entire reason for starting this organic craze: the realization that we need to go back to natural, healthy foods.
[tags] organic, wild salmon, farmed fish, sea lice, omega-3, Alaska, New York Times, fishermen, regulation, red tape [/tags]
Why eat tuna when you could eat…Tuno? That’s what Peta is hoping you’ll want to do. They offer 10 reasons to eschew eating all our dear fish friends, from tuna to salmon (here’s the clickativity).
In actuality, they offer two reasons, five different ways (human health, fish feel pain). I get a little peeved by this kind of repetitive illogic. Just make your two reasons convincing!
That said, I don’t really have anything against Peta, or against vegetarians. My wife and son have both tried vegetarianism in different forms over the years. I’ve never really understood the people who have an actual problem with vegetarians’ motives. While I personally believe eating fish and meat is healthy and natural, and I think Tuno is just plain ridiculous, I’m stumped by the anger I see at times. Call vegetarianism sentimental or unnatural if you like, but think about it: “I’m gonna get really riled up about the fact that you’re trying to be…nice.” I just don’t see how vegheads are threatening, but then, I also know real men aren’t afraid of salad.
As far as Tuno is concerned, I do want to suggest that you avoid mock-meats or faux-fish in whatever latest incarnation you see. While mercury toxicity is a concern if you eat a lot of fish, particularly tropical-water fish, let’s think about the alternatives being prescribed. Eating a processed soy- or grain-based artificial food is hardly a reasonable alternative.
Here’s an incredibly easy rule of thumb: did the food start this way? An apple started as an apple. A filet of fish started as fish. Foods people typically think are “healthy”, such as fruit leather, protein bars, and now Tuno, really aren’t much better for you than what you’d find in your local middle school vending machine (now there’s another peeve!). Though there are a few exceptions, I will say that any food that is highly-processed and generally unrecognizable from where it started is not fuel fit for consumption. Really.
Two easy solutions to the mercury concerns:
1) Eat mostly cold-water fish, such as Alaskan salmon and Arctic cod.
2) Supplement with an Rx-quality, filtered fish oil.
[tags] fish, best fish oil supplement, omega-3’s, healthiest fish, mercury, Tuno, Peta, vegetarian, processed foods [/tags]
I can’t tell you how furious I am about what I feel is the meat industry’s blatant disregard for human health. While I’m no vegetarian, I saw this study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, and let’s just say, I’m not buying the “Happy Cows” line.
The researchers looked at 90,000 women. That’s a huge study. They compared US and UK women, and here’s what they found:
Eating more than 1.5 servings of meat daily doubles a young woman’s risk of breast cancer. What concerns me is the type of cancer which had double the risk: hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. To me, that says something pretty sobering about the meat industry’s production habits.
Both the study, and the BBC News article that covered it, are cautious to merely “suggest” a link between eating red meat and increasing – doubling – the risk of breast cancer. It doesn’t take much to read between the lines here.
The reason I think this study is really important to highlight is not because I hope to bandy a statistic like “double the risk!” about. (Remember the Statistics Game: always consider context and relative risk or results.) It’s important because the women who ate high amounts of red meat had double the risk of hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. That is a big issue, namely, because the American meat industry uses growth hormone like it’s manna from Heaven. Growth hormone helps the animals get bigger, faster, which translates more profit – but I’m pretty skeptical about how this practice could possibly be in the interest of public health. I just wonder how these people sleep at night knowing their profits come at the expense of other human beings.
Personally, I believe it’s clear that human physiology supports being omnivorous. No culture anywhere at any time has done without some sort of animal flesh, whether it’s fish, beef or reindeer. So I’m not “anti-meat”. However, I am strongly opposed to the way meat is produced in this country: quickly, unethically, with little regard for the animals or the people eating the animals. That’s why I only buy meat that is free-range, local, organic and definitely hormone-free.
The researchers were careful not to draw any ultimate conclusions. I think we can probably begin to draw our own, with some additional critical considerations:
1) Processed meats generally contain a chemical known as heterocyclic acid, which has been shown to cause cancer;
2) Red meat, of course, contains iron, which can sometimes encourage the growth of some types of tumors (though this isn’t a significant concern, likely);
3) The standard line: “The biggest risk factors for breast cancer remain gender and increasing age.” This from specialist Maria Leadbeater, quoted in the BBC article. Fair enough.
[tags] breast cancer, beef, red meat, cancer, factory farming, growth hormone, omnivore, Maria Leadbeater, BBC, hormone receptor, heterocyclic acid, risk factors [/tags]