Friday, October 9, 2015

Killer Tilapia: Fact or Fiction

Sometimes you don't even want to read or listen to the news because there will be an attention grabbing headline that will make people change their eating habits, learn what is going to kill them or at least provide them with something to talk about over the water cooler at work.

The truth is most people read a headline, maybe scan the page and suddenly they know it all.

There has been a lot of mudslinging with regards to tilapia and one "expert" even suggested it was worse than bacon! Let me tell you, I eat tilapia and I also eat bacon. I suspect so does the journalist who wrote the article. They don't care about facts, they just want you to click on their page.

The world has gone crazy with regards to food. Tell me one food which hasn't been attacked and vilified, I don't think you can.

You can't eat the fruit and veg because they are genetically modified. Eggs the risk of salmonella, ocean caught fish have plastic in them.
So what are we left with All-bran and a eco- friendly vitamin pill on our plate?

Nope not for me. I plan to eat as I always have with a well balanced diet. Everything in moderation and choosing from a wide variety of meats, fish, fruits, and vegetables.

It has been stated in the media that tilapia isn't good for you for several reasons.

  • The commercial feed isn't healthy: Of course there are fish farmers who use a lesser quality of fish food. We use half fish food/ half duckweed. The fish food does contain genetically modified soy products but check your manufactures ingredient list. Remember fish is a good source of low fat protein. The beef and chicken are also fed on GM foods, unless you go to a specialist retailer who sells organic meats. The fish food will have protein which may be from chicken which has been retrieved by use of high pressure hoses. It is claimed that chicken excrement may also find its way into the mixture. I believe that is very possible. Here though I would also like to point to the fact that many foods we already consume are made from this 'goo or pink slime ' as it has been called, which is extracted this way. For example hot dogs lesser quality foods are using this. 

  • The use of antibiotics: Here on our farm, we have never used antibiotics. We know of some tilapia farmers who have though. This greatly increases the cost of rearing fish and if possible should be avoided. Keep your water clean, and reduce the numbers of fish to keep the growing environment healthy. Commercial farmers walk a tightrope between profit and loss. The general public never see this, they only want to hear the dirt about the farmers.

  • Pesticides in water: In some areas this could be a problem. Have your water tested if you are in an area where intensive agricultural farming or animal rearing is occurring. We don't have this problem where I live in Brazil and as a result our fish are stronger and healthier. If your water is contaminated with pesticides, calculate the cost of digging a deeper well after speaking to a someone from your water board. If you are reliant river runoff, see if you can determine where the pesticides originated from. If this has affected your farm adversely you could be able to file a complaint against them and may be in line for compensation. The legal road is a long one to take and is often hellishly expensive.

  • Farmed vs. wild caught: I hate this comparison because it immediately conjures up the wrong image. You have the image that some weathered and smiling fisherman  using a fishing pole is catching a salmon, just for you to enjoy. Wake up and smell the coffee! Your “wild caught salmon” is depleting the ocean's resources and is probably caught by a net which when snagged, is cut free and left. This then creates an unseen barrier for dolphins, whales and others.  Plus have you not read about all the garbage in the oceans? It is thought that ¼ of the fish caught off the Californian coast have consumed plastic. This is in the form of micro beads and other other types of plastic such as bags. California has now, thankfully  passed a bill  preventing micro beads from being used in cosmetics and other toiletries such as toothpastes. My point is, don't think that farmed fish is something to avoid. Weigh up the pros and cons before buying fish.
  •  Tilapia and inflammation: It has also been claimed that tilapia can cause problems for people with asthma, heart problems, and arthritis. This is due to the ratio of Omega 3 and Omega 6 in farm fed tilapia. If you suffer from any of these conditions, consult your doctor and explain your concerns. 
These are the main reasons why people have concerns over eating tilapia. For most people, it is a low cost food which can be enjoyed in so many different ways. The fact that kids are eating something other than tuna, and one which parents are happy to prepare will still keep tilapia at the forefront of everyone's weekly menu for the foreseeable future.

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