Think fish is safe and good for the environment?


This is dedicated to environmentalists who advocate eating fish over meat. For those who love to extol the health and environmental benefits of substituting meat for fish, you are in for a rude awakening. 

Yes, while it is true that beef is a major contributor to humanity's overall carbon foot print (link), the rush towards fish as a meat substitute is misguided and short sighted. Here's why:

The horsemeat scandal has revealed in the last couple of weeks that the food supply is not what it appears to be. It's even worse for sushi fanatics "because those fish are mislabeled 74% of the time (video)".  And fish mislabeling is on the rise (New York Times article: link).

I know what you are thinking as you read this claim. Why is this happening? Because the grim reality that we are faced with is that fish stocks globally have been overfished to the point of collapse. Whoever told you that switching to fish is the answer to the world's problem of finding a meat that has a smaller carbon foot print than land based animals is misguided, misinformed (National Geographic link) and is unaware of the looming threat of overfishing and what it means to our way of food production. Bill Maher points out that mislabeling of fish is happening because "they don't like to tell you that the fish you like are gone. 85% of the world's fisheries are either fully exploited, over exploited or collapsed (video).

And if that was not a big enough reason for the mislabeling, that is one more reason that should persuade you to cut back on your fish consumption. Almost all fish and shellfish caught from the wild contain differing levels of mercury and methyl mercury which is poisonous to us (US FDA article: link). In fact Shark is high in mercury and is labeled a public health risk to human consumption. One really has to wonder why this little fact has not been brought up by anti-fining campaigns to encourage people to stop eating shark's fin soup. You would think that telling people they are eating poison would be a sure fire way to get them to stop eating shark's fin soup and effectively protect wild shark populations.

So what does this mean for you? It means that if we do not fix how we grow our food and do not stop turning our oceans into a carbon sink (which is another reason why fish stocks are depleting thanks to the loss of reefs which act as fish habitats) then we are going to have to learn to eat the very things we find disgusting such as insects and plankton. Yeah, food security in Singapore is going to be a real challenge for any government of the day.

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