Fish is a tasty, lean, low-fat protein (as long as you can resist the urge to smother it in cream sauce or deep-fry it in batter). It is a great source of healthy unsaturated fatty acids and omega-3 oils, and it’s easy and quick to prepare on a weeknight.
All good reasons why Plated always offers fish options in the menus we ship to customers every week. And because this is our business, we always source fish that is 100% sustainable and domestic. In fact, we almost exclusively source wild-caught fish, unless farm-raised is more environmentally conscious.
But for most consumers, navigating the types of fish that are good for both us and the oceans is easier said than done. For one thing, opinions vary on whether farmed or wild-caught fish are the best to buy. A lot depends on how the wild fish are caught (some methods catch too many other fish in the process) and how the fish farm is managed.
Seafood experts like Monterey Bay Aquarium make this their job, and they share their findings in their app and on the Seafood Watch site. There you can simply type in a fish name and find out instantly whether it’s a sustainable choice.
But in case you don’t have time to research fish online en route to the store, we’ve put together the following list to help you navigate the fish aisle. Before you go on your next grocery run, arm yourself with information on what kind of fish rates best for your plate and the planet.
The Best Fish to Buy Right Now
Tilapia is a mild white fish that we love shipping. Indeed, its subtle flavor can make a convert of even the most reluctant fish eater.
Tilapia are hardy and don’t often require antibiotics, reports the New England Aquarium, and because they eat a mostly vegetarian diet, they are inexpensive to raise. “As a whole, tilapia have fewer impacts than other farmed species, making them a good seafood choice,” says the Aquarium.
Seafood Watch gives farm-raised tilapia from the U.S., Canada, and Ecuador its “best” rating.
Wild-caught Alaskan salmon is generally the most sustainable choice, though land-based recirculating closed farms are also acceptable sources of ways to find salmon.
Monterey Bay Aquarium gives its “best” rating to U.S. salmon farmed in recirculating aquaculture systems (closed farms) and tanks, as well as a variety of wild-caught salmon.
Ready to cook salmon? The Marine Stewardship Council has a list of sustainable salmon fisheries.
When it comes to this tiny crustacean, U.S. wild-caught or farmed shrimp make the “best” lists of sustainable choices. The New England Aquarium explains that U.S. shrimp farms are highly regulated. Many are recirculating enclosed systems, so waste nutrients are used to grow crops and the farms don’t have an impact on the local environment.
Want to see more info on which brands of shrimp are sustainable? Check out the Marine Stewardship Council’s useful database.
Pollock is a small, white-fleshed fish related to cod. Atlantic pollock from Norway is highly rated by the Seafood Watch team, with most other Atlantic and Alaska pollock fisheries rated as “Good Alternatives.”
Find pollock fisheries certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council.
Good choices for tuna depend on where and how they are caught. Some regions have the fish in abundance, but others have been overfished and stocks decimated. And the type of nets used also affects the eco-friendliness of the catch: Look for tuna “caught with troll or pole-and-line, or canned tuna labeled ‘FAD-free,’” both of which are a ‘Best Choice,’ ” says Seafood Watch. U.S. and Canadian tuna is a best choice when caught by those methods, as is fast-growing skipjack tuna worldwide.
Check out the Marine Stewardship Council’s sustainable tuna guide for more information.
If you’d like to try out one of Plated’s seafood meals yourself, here’s the recipe to our Miso Ginger-Crusted Pollock with Chinese Broccoli and Potatoes.