What do sharks have to do with our fish and fish oil supply?
Simple: overfishing and pollution lead to oceanic dead zones. Dead zones mean hungry sharks. No one wants to encounter a hungry shark.
This Shark Week, Harvest Market looks at sustainable seafood choices in many forms. Join us to understand seafood toxicity, protecting the food chain, the differences between fish oil supplements, and what our seafood brands have to say about their efforts to preserve the health of the ocean. Your purchases really do matter.
You save 20% on New Chapter Wholemega 120 & 180 ct. through September, plus redeem a $10 coupon on the spot, AND New Chapter will give $1 to Blue Ocean Institute or Monterey Bay Seafood Watch with each purchase. Unsure of which fish oil is right for you? Read on for a breakdown. Nordic Naturals will be sampling in-store Saturday, August 18, 10:30 am – 1:30 pm. Join us Saturday, August 25, 12 noon – 4:00 pm to taste Wild Planet sustainable Albacore tuna recipes, pick up coupons, and try your first sardine! Pick up a Monterey Bay Seafood Watch pocket guide from our table and choose healthy fish anywhere you go.
Resources for choosing the least contaminated fish for your plate can be found at the links below:
Blue Ocean’s top pick: Wild Alaskan Salmon
Understand the food chain and the importance of managing forage (“feeder”) fish well:
These links will help explain our growing coastal “dead zones,” which decimate predatory fish nurseries and feeding grounds, as well as a piece asserting that shark populations flourish naturally in protected areas:
Even BassMaster published a piece linking shark attacks and dead zones!
Here you will find where the United Nations aims for a sustainable oceanic future.
Harvest Market stocks many brands of sustainable seafood, from dolphin-safe to the gold standard of pristine Alaskan waters. See how our brands commit to respecting the ocean and its populations:
Tree of Life and Earthtrust
Morgada and the Marine Stewardship Council
Which Fish Oil Is Healthiest?
With growing, cumulative research supporting the numerous health benefits associated with the intake of Omega-3 essential fatty acids, consumers are driven more than ever before into health food stores in search of the ‘best’ sources of these essential fats. Some individuals, especially those with vegetarian and vegan lifestyles, are apt to opt for flax oil to meet their Omega-3 needs. However, it is suggested and often accepted that fish-derived sources are more metabolically active, more concentrated and ultimately more capable of providing the body with what it prefers. The vegetarian source of Omega-3, alpha-linolenic-acid, is notoriously controversial amongst researchers, with much uncertainty surrounding the body’s efficiency in converting these easily oxidized plant fats into active EPA and DHA in the body.
When strategizing the optimal way to attain and maintain one’s Omega-3 status, there are many caveats worth considering. Fish oil, although undoubtedly one of the most accessible and feasible options, comes clad with issues involving sustainability, quality, contamination and bioavailability. Many companies producing fish oil supplements that claim to be of reputable quality have little or no empirical data to back up their assertions. Creating distinction within the industry requires educating consumers to recognize evidence of quality. Doing this will further encourage manufacturers to prioritize the best possible manufacturing methods, reducing the negative ecological impact that is usually inherent to fish oil production.
New Chapter, according to their spokespeople, was very hesitant about creating and marketing their own line of fish oils. Some of this was a result of the significant number of vegan customers comprising New Chapter’s prevalent demographic. They were also wary of the aforementioned sustainability and quality issues and needed to be confident that they would not be contributing to the depletion of our already-traumatized oceans. With these concerns in mind, New Chapter set out to create a fish oil product that provided adequate levels of Omega-3 fats in an unadulterated form while also minimizing ecological impact.
Wholemega was the oily outcome of New Chapter’s toil, and as is often the case with their formulas, innovates upon pre-existing products by turning to traditional and time-tested methods of gathering, manufacturing and preserving the quality of their fish oil. Where most companies are utilizing mackerel and sardines from Peru as their primary source ingredient, New Chapter is opting instead to use Wild Alaskan Salmon. Overfishing has plagued Peruvian fisheries since the 90′s (although conditions are allegedly much improved in recent years due to better regulations) and in an attempt to prevent exacerbating this potential debacle New Chapter is purchasing only sustainably caught salmon, as certified by the Alaskan Fish & Game Department.
When conceived, a requirement for Wholemega was avoiding the major trappings of conventional fish oil products: distillation and refinement. Most fish oils endure a rather rigorous onslaught of processing measures, deemed necessary to remove toxins, concentrate Omega-3 fats and enhance the shelf life of the product. Although effective at eliminating heavy metals, dioxins, et al., the heat and/or chemicals associated with these methods can damage the molecular structure of delicate Omega-3 fats, yielding undesirable free radicals. The oils from Wholemega’s Wild Alaskan Salman are cold-pressed from the trim of the fish, and test low enough in contaminants that they do not require distillation. As a result, the Omega-3 fats occur in the same phospholipid form as in their natural state. The undisturbed astaxanthin, present in substantive quantities because of the quality of the wild sourced salmon, acts as a natural preservative and helps to prevent the formation of free radicals.
Nordic Naturals, on the other hand, favors distillation as an appropriate means to ensure purity in their products. As a long-time leader in the fish oil industry, they increasingly strive to set the best possible example in research and quality control. In order to prevent lipid peroxidation (a process resulting in free radicals) during distillation, Nordic Naturals pioneered a proprietary process in which the fish oils are heated in an oxygen-free environment. According to Nordic Naturals, they were able to create a product that boasts a high degree of purity without damaging the essential fatty acids. An added benefit of this process is the ability to significantly concentrate the levels of EPA and DHA, so that an individual who requires higher, more therapeutic doses of these fats could attain optimal Omega-3 status without being forced to take a prohibitive amount of pills.
Some of Nordic Naturals’ detractors have antagonized the company’s decision to continue using forage fish from Peru in their products. Although valid in the face of worldwide overfishing, this criticism does no justice to the fact that Nordic Naturals has focused well over a decades worth of energy into assuring that the fisheries they utilize cater to the highest possible standards in quality and sustainability, and are certified as such. The standards set by Nordic Naturals have, if anything, helped to revive the ethics of an industry that, left undisturbed, was a potential threat to our long-term ecological stability.
Ideally, we would all attain healthy levels of Omega-3 fats from our diets. Unfortunately, contamination in our oceans has reached a point where obtaining the optimal levels of these nourishing fats from food also entails consuming a horrid host of petrochemicals, heavy metals, dioxins and other cringe-worthy detritus. Many authorities now claim that there are NO tuna left that are fit for regular weekly consumption, and the ‘risky fish’ list is growing every year. Any persons looking to ensure adequate Omega-3 intake without the use of supplementation would be wise to consume a diet rich in wild-caught sardines and anchovies, allegedly two of the most “clean” fish available. In addition to the benefits of the active EPA and DHA, consumers would be eating a complete protein and an excellent source of zinc and calcium (sardines).
It will probably still be some time before research fully elucidates the aforementioned topics to the point where health professionals can agree on the ‘best’ forms of Omega-3 fatty acids. With so much conflicting information and marketing hoopla, finding your way can be a daunting task. It seems likely, however, that modest supplementation (via diet and fish oil/flax oil supplements) combined with ecological responsibility will provide the best possible future for our oceans and our health.
Shared by Rick Martel, Supplement Specialist at Harvest Market.
Oceanic Society Guide: Sustainability for Ocean Health
1. Choose sustainable fished or farmed seafood. Not all seafood is created equal. For information on ocean-friendly seafood, visit the Seafood Choices Alliance at www.seafoodchoices.org
2. Buy Local Products. The food on your plate has traveled, on average, 1,500 miles. Support local farmers and fishers, and help reduce global warming caused by emissions from food transportation. Eating local supports your community’s economy and our global ecosystem. http://seastheday.theoceanproject.org
3. Be Trash-Conscious. Recycling is one way to maintain a healthy ocean, but it’s also important to be knowledgeable about what you throw away. For instance, flushing non-biodegradable products can damage the sewage treatment process and end up littering beaches and waters. For other tips on safe trash disposal, visit http://www.epa.gov/recyclecity/ or http://www.obviously.com/recycle/.
4. Be Considerate of Ocean Wildlife. Our trash can damage or kill ocean wildlife easily, but it is easy to prevent these tragedies. Never dispose of fishing line or nets in the water. Don’t release helium balloons outside. Minimize your use of Styrofoam. Cut open plastic six-pack rings that can entangle ocean life.
5. Reduce Household Toxins. By using natural fertilizer, phosphate-free detergents and non-toxic cleaning products, you can ensure a healthier ocean and a cleaner overall environment. For more ideas on reducing pollution, see http://es.epa.gov/techinfo/facts/safe-fs.html.
6. Reduce Run-Off. It’s easy to avoid contributing to nonpoint source pollution! Put trash in the can instead of the gutter. Use soap sparingly when washing your car. If you must use chemicals on your lawn, don’t spray on a windy day or when rain is expected. And scoop pet waste – an estimated 15 tons of pet waste flows into ocean waters every day! Other ways to reduce your run-off can be found at http://www.epa.gov/owow/nps/whatudo.html.
7. Join NRDC/use their resources. You can help secure the changes that will stop global warming by joining NRDC, one of the most effective environmental groups in the country. Combine your voice with hundreds of thousands of others, visit their green living pages. www.nrdc.org.
8. Support or volunteer for the oceans.
Find a local, small, non-profit organization working to save the oceans and ocean life, and get involved. That way you will learn more about the problems the ocean faces, and can become a more effective part of the solution. For international volunteer opportunities: see www.oceanicsociety.org.