Saturday, September 5, 2015

Tilapia, Swai, & Basa are Crap Fish

There is a major rise in the United States in the popularity of cheap seafood from abroad.  While there is nothing wrong with some smoked salmon produced in Norway, other types of fish that enter the country are not as healthy as people believe them to be.  One of the biggest growing sales of fish in the US belongs to fish like tilapia, basa and swai.  With cheap price tags this fish seems like a great deal, but there may be more to it.

The first issue with these fish is how they are produced.  Tilapia, basa and swai are all fresh water fish.  Tilapia variants can be found in fresh water bodies throughout the world.  Basa and swai on the other hand are found in the Mekong River in Vietnam.  All of these fish variants have very small wild caught industries, but they are used primarily for local markets at their point of origin.  The majority of exported fish of these variants comes from commercial farming in South East Asia, primarily from nations like China, Vietnam and the Philippines.  All of these fish are mass-produced in crowded aquaculture tanks and are fed soy-based foods, if they are lucky.  Being bottom feeders and filter feeders these fish will consume any waste or contaminants that enter the water, and I mean anything.  I am going to let your imagination take over for that one.  In order to keep the fish alive until harvest they are continuously fed antibiotics in order to thwart off disease that can kill the entire stock.  Sure there is organic production of tilapia in the US, but it consists of less than 1% of all tilapia sold in the US.  It is also nearly impossible to recognize US produced tilapia unless properly labeled as such.


Anonymous said...

I tried Swai once, when farmed catfish was running $8.00/lb around here a while back. A poor substitute.
Tilapia once, and Roughy. Once.

Never heard of Basa, but I'll take your word for it.

=Chip Kale=

Doom said...

I know it. I have stopped buying any fish that isn't marked made in the US. The thing is, very little of what I have seen, even at the good stores, suggests that. Many suggest they are sold through a US vender, or such. Some are honest, and suggest they are from China. I don't even buy stuff processed in Mexico, I am definitely not going to buy Chinese. And if it doesn't come out and say it was raised in the US, which none I have found locally does, I have to go without.

Actually, at this point, with as poorly as this government and particular admin is doing, I won't even buy fish if it says US raised anymore. I can't trust my own government any more than I can trust the Chinese government. I'm not sure there is much of a difference.

If I want fish, I suppose I am going to have to learn to fish. Local trout is pretty good. Same with catfish. The waters are good. Anything else, that I know is definitely American through "farm to market" sales, is far too expensive.