Your Seafood is Sick

By Brad Jordan

Support your local fisherman

We watched from afar as the birds circled their prey. They torpedoed down into the ocean, striking as fast and as hard as they could. We throttled down in our open-bowed boat, fishing poles in hand, toward the school of fish.

It was a short fight to see who got the fish first – the birds or us. We cast our spoons quickly. It didn’t take the fish long to take the bait.

We caught enough Spanish mackerel to feed us for days. Reeling in one fish after the other was exhilarating, but what was even more satisfying was eating those beauties.

Frying up the fresh-caught fish reminded me of how important it is to eat local, so the buyer knows the product he bought, or in my case, caught. The fresh, clean, taste brought back memories of when I was lad back in Michigan – when we ate fresh fish dinners of perch or walleye from the Great Lakes every Friday during Lent.

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Months after my recent fishing trip – after running out of mackerel – I tried replicating one of those Friday night dinners. But I couldn’t find any local fish at the grocery store.

Everything was imported from other countries. It didn’t seem right to live on the coast and have a bunch of seafood imported from far-off places. I wondered what the heck was going on and decided to look into it.

The peril

Whether it’s shrimp – America’s favorite seafood – imported from Asia and Ecuador or tilapia brought in from China, one thing seems clear – America is farming out her seafood to other countries.

Eighty to ninety percent of seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported from other countries. Just think of what has to transpire for that fish in China to reach Americans’ plates.

First, the fish are fed chicken poop and antibiotics in crowded, disease-ridden tanks. Then they are “caught” and processed in huge processing plants – where thousands of other fish are prepared.

Once the fish is “cleaned” and packaged, there’s the long haul on trains, ships, and trucks before they finally reach the store. Whew. I’m more tired from thinking about that process, than I was hooking one of my Spanish ladies.

Fish like these are regularly contaminated with dangerous pathogens.

Processed fish like smoked salmon have been have been voluntarily recalled for risk of Listeria contamination from places as nearby and “trustworthy” as Canada.

A recall of prepackaged, processed fish is one thing, but contaminated fish never end up on the counter at the “fresh” fish market, right?

A recent study shows one in four fish in select markets in Raleigh, North Carolina, were found to contain unnatural levels of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.

And to think there were “natural” levels of formaldehyde. You learn something new every day.

And then there’s Mother China – who not only owns much of our debt, but is now gaining a large share of our food supply as well. This is the country where dead pigs float down rivers, and where high levels of antibiotics have been found in their farm-raised tilapia. Not to worry though, only three quarters of tilapia consumed in America comes from China.

With outbreaks of illness from seafood on the rise, consumers are beginning to question the quality of seafood.

In a study by SeaFood Business Magazine in 2010, the chief concern among consumers was safety – whether the fish were wild or farmed or imported or domestic.

With growing safety concerns growing are the Federale cracking down on inspections?

Don’t take the bait… Do your own research

The federal Food and Drug Administration only inspects one percent of the seafood coming in from other countries and the fish are usually contaminated with antibiotics.

This is one of many reasons we shouldn’t trust the federal government to keep us safe.

And state governments are only doing a slightly better job. Alabama tests 50 to 60 percent of imported seafood, in which contamination is routinely found.

Much of the “sea”food from foreign countries is farmed the same way land animals are farmed in the U.S. – CAFO style.

These concentrated animal feeding operations breed and spread bacteria, viruses and parasites. Fish farmers try to offset these conditions by using antibiotics, which, unfortunately, are consistently found in the fish once they reach the States.

Farmers continue feeding fish dangerous and harmful chemicals that have been linked to cancer.

Disease- and chemical-laden fish are all the more reason to know your farmer or fisherman. Who really wants to take the chance at eating something that has traces of harmful chemicals or antibiotics in it?

That means doing the hunting or fishing yourself or at least getting to know who’s doing it. Find yourself a local fishmonger, who uses safe, sustainable practices.

Unfortunately, these mongers are becoming few and far between thanks to “conservationists” and government colluding together to limit our supply of local fish.

The real cost of environmentalism

Pseudo-environmentalist groups like the Coastal Conservation Association lobby state and federal government to make many local fish off-limits to commercial fisherman, which, in turn, makes fresh fish less available for the public.

They designate fish such as red drum, spotted sea trout, and striped bass as “game fish,” so they can only be caught recreationally, by hook and line, making them unavailable to the majority public, who can’t fish for themselves.

Making these fish “trophies” for the super-rich to hunt down, limits consumers’ choice in the marketplace, leaving us with little other than polluted tilapia.

If you think the fish from China is bad, wait until our far-Eastern friends start producing our pork. If that doesn’t make you hungry to know your food, I don’t know what will.

Thinking of politicians, bureaucrats and so-called “conservationists,” I am reminded of a quote from Jaws:

The thing about a shark, it’s got lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eyes. When it comes at you, it doesn’t seem to be livin’… until he bites you, and those black eyes roll over white. – Quint

The real sharks standing between our seafood and us today are the ones in slick suits eager to eat our freedoms and liberties. Support small, local commercial fishermen wherever you can find them.

Brad Jordan is a real food chef and food freedom activist who runs Food Riot Radio

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