Monday, August 23, 2010

Pity the shunned seafood

Posted By on Mon, Aug 23, 2010 at 2:04 PM

Can you blame people for not wanting to eat seafood these days? In a time when we're learning industrial farming practices may lead directly to tainted food — hello salmonella in tomatoes, cantaloupe, eggs, pork, pistachios, alfalfa, jalapeños; E. coli in spinach, tacos and cookie dough; and botulism in chili products; not to mention the use of antibiotics and hormones — only to learn the federal government may or may not be doing a good job of protecting consumers, it's no wonder people are hesitant to believe claims that seafood from the Gulf of Mexico is A-OK.

The Daily Beast recently conducted independent lab tests to determine if Gulf Coast seafood is safe. Here's a peek at what they found:

So is the caution among America’s seafood consumers justified? Seeking a definitive answer to the question, The Daily Beast commissioned an independent lab, one of a handful certified to measure chemical dispersants, to analyze a cross-section of Gulf seafood—red grouper, jumbo shrimp, and crabmeat—for both oil and the dispersants that have prompted almost as much alarm as the petroleum itself. To further sharpen the test, we also performed similar tests on samples of those three types of seafood culled from the Atlantic Ocean.

Yet with all that testing in place—and The Daily Beast’s independent results, which indicate that the process is working—America has turned its collective back on Gulf seafood. According to an Associated Press-GfK poll released last week, 54 percent of Americans are not confident that Gulf seafood is safe to eat.

Read the entire article here.

I'm like a lot of other Americans right now in that I'm not interested in seafood anymore. I was a late convert anyway; I didn't even try seafood until I was in my early 20s, despite the fact that I lived close to the Gulf of Mexico for the first half of my life and that my paternal grandfather was a shrimper. In fact, he may be to blame for my initial distaste for all critters from the sea as he frequently referred to shrimp as the Gulf's cockroaches.

I finally got over it, though, and discovered seafood is delicious; however, with the oil spill and the realization that we're overfishing our oceans — and have been for a long time, I've decided to go seafood-less for the remainder of my life.

I'm not shunning seafood just because of the oil spill, though that's reason enough. I'm off seafood because I've made the conscious decision to eat less meat in general and, when I do, to eat locally-grown meats. And, as far as I know, there's no shrimp in the Catawba River.

Plus, I feel a heckuva lot better about eating beef raised on nearby farms where I can go talk to the farmer — eye to eye — about whether or not he's injecting his herd with antibiotics and growth hormones. I also know that when I buy my groceries from local farmers, I'm directly impacting our local economy in a positive way and reducing the amount of energy it takes to package and ship meats to market. More: If I ever have a problem with what I buy, I know exactly where to take it.

As far as my family in the Gulf Coast, it's time for them to explore different areas of the world and jobs that don't include harvesting sea cockroaches.

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