Tilapia: True "Chicken Of The Sea"

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[Environment]
Americans ate 475 million pounds of tilapia last year, four times the amount a decade ago, making this once obscure African native the most popular farmed fish in the United States. Unfortunately, it's not like other fish, nor does it offer the same health benefits commonly associated with eating fish...

lthough wild fish predominate in most species, a vast majority of the tilapia consumed in the United States is "harvested" from pens or cages in Latin America and Asia.

Known in the food business as "aquatic chicken" because it breeds easily and tastes bland, tilapia is the perfect factory fish; it happily eats pellets made largely of corn and soy and gains weight rapidly, easily converting a diet that resembles cheap chicken feed into low-cost seafood.

"Ten years ago no one had heard of it; now everyone wants it because it doesn't have a fishy taste, especially hospitals and schools," said Orlando Delgado, general manager of Aquafinca.

Farmed tilapia is promoted as good for your health and for the environment at a time when many marine stocks have been seriously depleted. "Did you know the American Heart Association recommends eating fish twice a week?" asks the industry Web site, abouttilapia.com. But tilapia has both nutritional and environmental drawbacks.

Compared with other fish, farmed tilapia contains relatively small amounts of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, the fish oils that are the main reasons doctors recommend eating fish frequently; salmon has more than 10 times the amount of tilapia. Also, farmed tilapia contains a less healthful mix of fatty acids because the fish are fed corn and soy instead of lake plants and algae, the diet of wild tilapia.

"It may look like fish and taste like fish but does not have the benefits--it may be detrimental," said Dr. Floyd Chilton, a professor of physiology and pharmacology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center who specializes in fish lipids.

Environmentalists argue that intensive and unregulated tilapia farming is damaging ecosystems in poor countries with practices generally prohibited in the United States--like breeding huge numbers of fish in cages in natural lakes, where fish waste pollutes the water. "We wouldn't allow tilapia to be farmed in the United States the way they are farmed here, so why are we willing to eat them?" said Dr. Jeffrey McCrary, an American fish biologist who works in Nicaragua. "We are exporting the environmental damage caused by our appetites."

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Once Again
Posted by permial on 2011-05-04 20:16:43
I wonder if Monsanto is farming these fish?
 

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