Seafood: Your Health and Our Planet

Have you thought about where your salmon comes from🐟? A new Netflix documentary, Seaspiracy, has stirred the ocean waters, creating a controversy of what exactly is seafood sustainability and why it’s important. Seafood sustainability is about how seafood is caught or farmed with minimal environmental and social impacts. It is intended to maintain healthy populations of fish while minimizing the impact of the fishing industry on the marine environment. Seaspiracy, definitely made me yearn for the truth. Is the seafood industry truly sustainable? Do the benefits of consuming seafood outweigh the environmental dilemmas?

Seaspiracy examines the global fishing industry, challenges notions of sustainable fishing and shows how human actions cause widespread environmental destruction. According to the filmmakers, the “ban single plastic to save marine animal” campaign is just a small part of the solution to protecting our oceans. The movie demonstrates how fishing nets are much more threatening to marine life. Yet these accusations have been disputed out by the industry, claiming the movie creators are making misleading claims, using out of context interviews and man-made statistics.

The techniques of film 🎥 and storytelling build a strong case against the seafood industry and their supposed lack of care for the marine environment. In the end, the waves of controversy will most likely benefit the seafood industry. Seafood actually has a lower carbon footprint than any other complete protein. It’s nutritious and delicious😋. The nutrition benefits of seafood are well-researched, and there is wide consensus that eating more seafood can significantly reduce the risks of chronic disease. Seafood has many immune-boosting nutritional properties, including being a source of lean protein, vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, selenium, iron and zinc. A new study from the University of Pennsylvania states frequent fish consumption is linked to both fewer sleep problems and higher IQ scores in children. Dietary fish and omega-3 fatty acid intake is also associated with improved cognitive and academic performance in adolescents and reduced cognitive decline and dementia in older age.

Sustainability is defined as minimizing impact on the environment; not taking more out of the ocean than it can naturally replenish. Per the seafood industry, wild fish caught in the US is sustainable, making sure farms have minimal impact on the environment. Regulations are tightly controlled in the US, including seafood imports. Yet, an upward trend of the United States producing more than 80% of its seafood abroad is not helpful for sustainability because other countries are not as careful in their environmental protections. It is a bit of a conundrum on many levels. For those who enjoy seafood and want to maintain the nutritional benefits without harming the environment, one option is to be more selective and buy seafood that is sourced locally. Also, be sure the look for the certification logo or mark on packages and at the seafood counter, to know you are buying responsibly farmed or caught products.

Omega 3 fatty acids are key resources to our overall health. Studies have found that they may reduce inflammation, decrease blood triglycerides and even reduce the risk of dementia. Fatty fish has been known to be the best source, but you can lean into non-fish options as well: chia seeds, Brussel sprouts, algal oil (oil from algae), hemp seeds, walnuts, flaxseeds. perilla oil (from perilla seeds). Where do we land with this dilemma? The choice to eat seafood or not is yours, but prioritizing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids should be a priority, regardless of your source!

Here are some tasty recipes, all with healthy sources of omega-3s. From my very first blog, to today, and always ~ Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much food.

photo by author

CRABBY PASTA
As soon as I can feel summer in the air, I start to crave crabs. I am not a big crab-eater, but the slight saltiness combined with sweetness tastes like summer and I can’t wait to dig in. Crab is always so delicate, tasty and satisfying, no matter how it is prepared. Of course, the fact that it is an awesome source of omega-3 fatty acids, a lean protein, rich in vitamin B12, folate, iron, niacin, selenium and zinc, it is a craving worth giving into when it arises. This dish combines the tenderness of crab with lots of veggies, whole grain pasta and a touch of cheese, for a truly satisfying dish.

INGREDIENTS
12 ounces vegetable-based or whole wheat pasta
1 1/2 Tablespoons truffle oil
3–4 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 Tablespoon from the jar)
16 ounces shiitake mushrooms, chopped into small pieces
3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
8 ounces fresh lump crab meat
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbles
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Freshly ground pepper to taste

PREPARATION
Prepare pasta according to package directions. Place in serving bowl and keep warm.

Place large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon truffle oil and heat for 2–3 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 4–5 minutes, or until softened. Add mushrooms and balsamic vinegar. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Add crab and heat through.

Pour veggie and crab mixture over the pasta. Add 1/2 tablespoon of truffle oil and gently stir. Top with 1/2 tablespoon feta cheese, parsley and ground pepper to taste. Makes 4–5 servings.

photo by author

ISRAELI COUSCOUS, SCALLOPS AND WALNUTS (or just walnuts :)
Israeli couscous is actually not a type of couscous. It is actually a type of pasta made of semolina flour and water, developed in the 1950s by prime minister David Ben-Gurion as a way to feed the influx of immigrants to Israel. It is more like a cousin of couscous, with some differences: couscous is traditionally dried before it’s cooked, Israeli couscous (or p’titim, a Hebrew word for “little crumbles”) is toasted; couscous is prepared by steaming, Israeli couscous is boiled like pasta. Whatever you want to call it, there is no denying it is a delicious grain to keep in your grainy rotation.

INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 cups dried Israeli couscous
2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 pound sea scallops
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons walnuts, chopped (if not using scallops, add 1/2 cup walnuts)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

PREPARATION
Prepare Israeli couscous according to package directions.

While couscous/or p’titim is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, reduce heat to medium-low and add the garlic. Sauté the garlic for about 2 minutes. Add scallops and sauté about 4 minutes, flip over and continue cooking for another 4 minutes.

Add prepared Israeli couscous, parsley, lemon juice, walnuts, pepper and red pepper flakes to the skillet. Continue to cook and stir for about 2 minutes, until all is heated through. Adjust seasonings to taste. Makes approximately 5 servings. Serve with roasted veggies or a side salad.

photo by author

ROASTED BEET BURGERS
I saw a picture of a roasted beet toast that looked so delicious, I had to create my own. I decided to make the beet a “burger,” but you could also shred the beet for something fun and messier to eat :).

INGREDIENTS
1 large beet, peeled and sliced into 4–5 1/2-inch thick pieces
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon walnut oil (optional, only if you like)
2–3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons chopped walnuts
1/4 cup feta or blue cheese, crumbles
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Optional garnish: 1/4 cup fresh thyme or basil, chopped

PREPARATION
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Place the cut beets on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil, walnut oil and garlic. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, turning once or twice with a spatula, until the beets are tender. Remove from the oven and toss with walnuts, blue cheese and pepper. Sprinkle with fresh thyme or basil and serve warm. Suggestion: place on top of toasted whole grain bread.

Proposition: Let’s get uncomfortable together🥴. Being uncomfortable is scary. It can be anxiety provoking. However, we do not make changes unless we truly feel uncomfortable on some level. Have an uncomfortable conversation with yourself. What is truly holding your back from making a change you know you want to make? Or why/what is the change you want to make? You need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. The more familiar you get yourself with this feeling, the more you will feel empowered to make a change🙌🏽.

You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make. ~Jane Goodall

For comments, thoughts, requests or anything else you feel the need to share, please do: amy@rebelliousrd.com

RESOURCES:

https://www.seafoodnutrition.org/seafood-101/sustainability/seafood-sustainability-what-you-need-to-know/

Innis, S. M. Dietary (n-3) fatty acids and brain development. J Nutr 137, 855–859 (2007).

Marik, P. E. & Varon, J. Omega-3 dietary supplements and the risk of cardiovascular events: a systematic review. Clinical cardiology 32, 365–372, https://doi.org/10.1002/clc.20604 (2009).

Young, G. & Conquer, J. Omega-3 fatty acids and neuropsychiatric disorders. Reproduction, nutrition, development 45, 1–28 (2005).

Qin, B. et al. Fish intake is associated with slower cognitive decline in Chinese older adults. J Nutr 144, 1579–1585, https://doi.org/10.3945/jn.114.193854 (2014).

Schaefer, E. J. et al. Plasma phosphatidylcholine docosahexaenoic acid content and risk of dementia and Alzheimer disease: the Framingham Heart Study. Arch Neurol 63, 1545–1550, https://doi.org/10.1001/archneur.63.11.1545 (2006).

van Gelder, B. M., Tijhuis, M., Kalmijn, S. & Kromhout, D. Fish consumption, n− 3 fatty acids, and subsequent 5-y cognitive decline in elderly men: the Zutphen Elderly Study. The American journal of clinical nutrition 85, 1142–1147 (2007).

https://food52.com/blog/16240-the-biggest-misunderstanding-in-the-history-of-couscous

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