Sustainable Halibut: Yes to Pacific, No to Atlantic

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You should eat fish at least twice a week, according to the American Heart Association. It’s a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help prevent heart disease.

But concerns over mercury toxicity have prompted many consumers to avoid the fish counter. Luckily, resources like the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch and the Environmental Defense Fund’s Seafood Selector allow you to make safe, healthful meal decisions.

Pacific vs. Atlantic 

Pacific halibut, caught along the West Coast from California to Alaska, is an eco-best choice. Alaska, in fact, is home to 75% of the halibut caught in the United States. 

Fresh, wild Pacific halibut is usually available between March and November. Frozen halibut roasts, fillets and steaks are available year-round.

Atlantic halibut is another story. It’s an eco-worst choice, as it contains unsafe levels of mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), toxic industrial chemicals.

The Price Factor 

Pacific halibut is one of my favorite fish selections because it’s firm and flaky in texture, mild-tasting and extremely versatile. You can grill, bake, roast and sauté it, as several of our blog recipes prove: 

Halibut fillets, however, can be expensive. On my latest shopping trip, I blanched at the price: $20 per pound. 

Feeling frugal, I opted for sustainable Alaskan cod, which has been on sale over the last month for $6 to $8 per pound at local markets. Another firm fish, it can replace halibut in any of the recipes cited above. 

For Your Organic Bookshelf: Ocean Friendly Cuisine: Sustainable Seafood Recipes from the World’s Finest Chefs

Photo courtesy of Robert Hsiao

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