From Fish Farm to Table: How Clean Are You Eating?

From Fish Farm to Table: How Clean Are You Eating?
  • Clean eating focuses on changing your eating habits to include more whole, unprocessed foods
  • Clean eating starts with choosing the best ingredients from conscientious suppliers
  • With increasing pressure on wild populations, farmed fish are among the healthiest and most sustainable choices you can make
  • The cleanest fish come from farms that are externally audited and held to high standards

If you’re on social media, chances are you’ve heard of “clean eating”. Defining clean eating can be difficult, as it can be different for everyone, but the premise behind clean eating is extremely simple. At its heart, it’s about eating more whole, unprocessed and minimally refined foods. It is being more aware of what we eat, how it’s made and where it comes from. Rather than thinking of clean eating as a diet, it is better to view it as a lifestyle choice. Being more conscientious when it comes to sourcing and prepping our food is not only good for our bodies, but for the whole planet.

Why Do People Care About Clean Eating?

One of the reasons clean eating seems trendy is because it’s timely. Never before have North Americans had such widespread health problems related to poor diets and disproportionate body weight. It’s been called an epidemic. One of the worst contributors is over-processed food. That’s why clean eating focuses on foods that are close to their natural form.

Of course, it’s important to question things you read online or see on TV. How many commercials say things like, “Now made with real vegetables!” or “Our meat is raised without hormones or steroids”? To truly make cleaner choices, you need to look at the ingredients and nutritional value yourself and find out firsthand what the food contains. But you’ll also want to know where it came from, and—in the case of meat and fish—how it was raised.

Add Seafood to Your Clean Eating Lifestyle

Seafood is a great choice for clean eating: it’s super healthy, and whether you get it from the fish market or the grocery store, making sure it’s pure and contains no additives or preservatives is a pretty simple matter. However, many people question if you should buy your fish wild-caught or farm-raised. In both cases, there are factors you’ll want to take into account, although both types can be clean.

Wild vs. Farmed Fish

You might think that wild fish is as “clean” as it gets—nutritious food straight from the natural world—but it’s not so straightforward. If clean eating is about ensuring our food is sustainably sourced, then it’s essential to note that 90% of the world’s wild fisheries are either over-harvested or at capacity. This is important because you’ll want to know where your wild fish is coming from and ensure that a species isn’t being threatened by overfishing. Whether you’re shopping in the grocery store or eating out, it’s always a good idea to look for a label denoting sustainably sourced fish, such as the Ocean Wise logo.
With increasing pressure on wild populations, farmed fish may be among the healthiest and most sustainable choices you can make when selecting your seafood. But of course, it all relies on the species of fish, the conditions in which it was raised, and whether it was over-processed prior to packaging. A more responsible option is herbivorous or omnivorous fish that feed on plant- and grain-based meal, such as Tilapia.

Choosing Sustainable Farmed Fish

Woman choosing fish filets in a grocery storeAn excellent way to judge the “cleanness” of fish farms is to see if they’ve earned certifications from credible, external auditors with high standards, such as the Aquaculture Stewardship Council and Global Aquaculture Alliance.
When you’re looking to make the change to clean eating, while still enjoying the many benefits of seafood, this is what you want to be looking for: high-quality fish raised in pristine conditions, with all-natural feeds and no chemicals or antibiotics. A cleaner diet starts long before you start cooking, by making more informed—and ethical—decisions at the checkout.