Something fishy

RedgrouperPIXA Minute ago we talked about foods purposely mislabeled for financial gain. Less expensive fish substituted for a pricier variety happens with some frequency. And consumers can rarely tell the difference. Does that matter?

Aside from the money scam, I don’t believe it does matter from a health standpoint! Let’s put that aside and declare ALL fish is super.

Unfortunately, we’ve made eating fish more complicated than it needs to be. Three simple tips:

  1. Regardless of the type of fish, it is a gold medal-worthy animal protein source.  Whether it is a low fat variety that we eat for its leanness or a high fat variety that we eat for its omega-3 oil, all fish is great. Unless it’s deep fat fried. No need to feel virtuous if you’re eating the deep fat fried cod; you might as well order the cheeseburger.
  2. If you’re considering wild caught versus farm raised, contemplating grouper species and using an app to figure it out, STOP. Fish will be a good addition to your plate however it was raised. A more important consideration (if you’re eating more than one fish dish weekly), is to vary the kind of fish you eat. Fresh water and saltwater fish would be another way to establish variety.
  3. Eat it simply. We’re not talking bland or dry. Fruit or vegetable salsa toppings or a citrus based sauce sounds great. Gremolata is a popular fish topper too. Grill on a cedar plank for flavor or bake in parchment to maintain moisture (and ensure quick clean up). All are brilliant ideas. What isn’t so brilliant is when you turn that fish into a patty and – fry it. Again, don’t bother. Exercise that palate to enjoy fish on its own.

Buy American when you can. Buy from a reputable fish monger or store! Put more fish on your plate to be well,




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Fake Food

olive-oilPIXDishonesty on food packages by omission or commission runs rampant. Creative writers who label a banana as “gluten free” or a jar of nuts as having “no cholesterol” get credit (or criticism).

We’re smarter than that. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley – never bananas; cholesterol is only found in animal-based foods.

But fake food is beyond deceptive descriptors. Fake food is intentionally substituting one food (always cheaper) for another. And unless we’re at our lab station, we rarely know. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Food & Nutrition Magazine July/August issue lists the top 9 foods most likely to be fake:

  • olive oil
  • fish and seafood
  • milk and milk-based products
  • honey, maple syrup and other natural sweeteners
  • fruit juice
  • coffee and tea
  • spices
  • organic foods and products
  • clouding agents

Excepting the “clouding agents” which are even murky to me, I can certainly picture how bait-and-switch goes on. Water and sugar are added to fruit juice; twigs and leaves in the ground coffee; corn syrup diluting the maple syrup…but olive oil is tough and fish is even more difficult to distinguish.

Just as we love buying local, buying US products can help decrease the chance of fraudulent food. The FDA and USDA have standards (admittedly some are voluntary) but a very small percentage of the total food universe is inspected so we can’t be 100% certain of our food’s pedigree. But, we can probably all admit, that’s better than wildly fraudulent labeling in other countries. Buy from a reputable purveyor and get a bit of background on the product.

Regarding extra virgin olive oil – it is expensive, has a distinctive color and flavor and will be in a dark bottle with the harvest date often noted. The California Olive Oil Council and North American Olive Oil Association have standards and your bottle may indicate that those standards are followed. We switched from an Italian olive oil to a California product a couple years ago sourced through a reliable farm.

If you’re eating for your health, it’s worth a bit of investigation to be well,


PS Let’s talk fish in another Minute.


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