Posts Tagged ‘my 2020 fish consumption’

A Study of My Seafood Consumption during 2020

January 1, 2021

90% of the seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported, and most of that is farm-raised.  This is a shocking statistic, considering how abundant fish were in American waters when Europeans first colonized the continent.  I was curious about my own seafood consumption, so I kept a tally of the fish and shellfish I ate in the year 2020.  I tried to avoid the Heisenberg Effect defined as the act of measurement altering the phenomenon under investigation, but I can’t rule out my subconscious influencing the results.  Nevertheless, I usually eat seafood once a week, and I believe this is a fair account of my average year’s seafood consumption.  The following paragraph is the result of my study.

I consumed seafood 76 times during 2020 or about 6.9% of my meals.  The tally is shrimp-13, tilapia-10, salmon-9, catfish-8, tuna-7, crab-4, croaker-3, sardines-3, oysters-3, trout-3, herring-2, crawfish-2, flounder-2, lobster-1, eel-1, Pacific cod-1, and unknown-1.

Figure 2 from Presence of Pacific white shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei (Boone,  1931) in the Southern Gulf of Mexico | Semantic Scholar

Pacific white-legged shrimp–small, medium, and large.  I like the largest ones because it takes less work to peel and clean them.  Along with tiger prawn shrimp these are the most common species found in the supermarket.  90% of shrimp consumed in the U.S. come from shrimp raised on farms in the Far East.

Shrimp is the most popular seafood consumed in the U.S. and 90% of it is imported.  It was my single most consumed seafood item as well.  Most of the shrimp consumed in the U.S. is raised on farms in Indonesia, Vietnam, and China.  30% of the world’s production is in Asia, and 54% is in Latin America.  Texas is where most shrimp are farmed in the U.S. The 2 most common species raised are the Pacific white-legged shrimp (Litopannaeus vannamei), and giant tiger prawns (Penneus monodon).  Some claim wild caught shrimp from the Gulf Coast are sweeter, but I think they taste like gasoline because of all the oil spills there.  It takes 3-6 months to raise a shrimp from egg to saleable adult, and shrimp farmers cut off the eye-stalks of the females to increase egg production.

Nile Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) - Species Profile

Nile tilapia (O. niloticus).  This was the 2nd most common seafood item I consumed during 2020.

The species of tilapia (Oreochronis sp.) raised by farmers originated in Africa.  5 species of tilapia now live in southeastern North America where they have become an invasive species, but they can’t survive in waters below 50 degrees F and will probably not expand out of the region.  An adult can be raised from a fingerling in 6-7 months on a cereal diet, making them a clean fish to produce.  Indonesia, Egypt, Brazil, and the Phillippines lead world production.  I notice the ones I eat come from Ecuador.

Salmo Salar - Salmon Wiki

Atlantic salmon came in 3rd.  All salmon sold in grocery stores (even those labeled as wild salmon) are farm-raised.

Norway, Chile, Scotland, and Canada are the leading world producers of salmon, and the vast majority are Atlantic salmon (Salmo samar). There is no such thing as wild caught salmon in grocery stores.  Fish labeled as “wild caught” are actually wild fish driven into pens and fed just like farm-raised salmon.  Trout sold in grocery stores are also farm-raised.

Channel Catfish

Channel catfish was my 4th most consumed seafood.  This is the only species I ate that mostly originated in the U.S.

In North America channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) are raised in the Mississippi Delta (including Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas) and California.  Still, the world produces 3 times more catfish than the U.S.  The American catfish lobby legally forced grocery stores into labeling Chinese-raised catfish as basa in order to reduce competition.  How silly?  A consumer purchasing basa is actually buying a species of the shark-finned catfish (Pangasiidae sp.).  1 acre of water can produce 300 pounds of catfish–a more efficient production of protein than any chicken farm or cattle ranch can match.

My consumption of wild caught fish is low, and so is the quantity and quality offered in the average supermarket, probably because the oceans are so overfished. The croaker I ate tasted like fish that had sat on a fish market counter for 3 days before they stuck it in a box and froze it. Tuna was the only significant component of wild caught fish in my tally, but scientists are experimenting with tuna farms.  In the future farm-raised tuna might be found in grocery store fish cases alongside farm-raised shrimp, tilapia, salmon, and catfish.

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