Farmed Fish vs. Wild Fish

Photo: Flickr/Northwest Power and Conservation Council

What’s the difference between farmed and wild fish? Photo: Flickr/Northwest Power and Conservation Council

Fish is a lean protein that’s a major source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, important vitamins such as calcium and iron, and essential minerals like magnesium and phosphorus. Studies have shown that including fatty fish in your diet is excellent for heart health and brain health. But not all servings of fish are created equal — the provided health benefits can be dependent on where the fish spent its life swimming.

Fish farming, or aquaculture, is a practice that has become popular in recent decades due to its manageability and an increasing demand for seafood. Fish are raised commercially in enclosures, commonly in the form of net pens in offshore coastal saltwater or freshwater environments, to eventually be sold for food. Aquaculture has been a valuable innovation and is largely why fish and other seafood are consistently available for our consumption.

While farmed fish can help with the problem of overfishing and can cut down on distance traveled to your plate, they also have a greater risk of disease, larger concentrations of toxins, and the potential to negatively impact local ecology.

Pollutants like polychlorated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxins are released into coastal waters by way of land runoff and thus are in highest concentrations in near-shore areas where most fish farming takes place. As a result, farmed fish commonly contain significantly higher concentrations of these harmful pollutants compared with wild fish.

Why? Imagine you’re in an airplane with one flu-ridden passenger. By the end of the flight, other passengers are likely to have caught the flu as well. Farmed fish are in a similar situation when kept in enclosures like net pens — the high density of fish in a small area keeps them in constant contact with one another, allowing disease to spread easily.

Salmon has heart-healthy benefits — but it can also have contaminants. Photo: Flickr/Gwen

Salmon has heart-healthy benefits — but it can also have contaminants. Photo: Flickr/Gwen

Farmed fish are fed pellets usually made from grain or other plant material. It turns out that the reason why fish is high in healthy omega-3s is due to their diet in the wild. Therefore, farmed fish tend to have significantly lower concentrations of omega-3s. The food pellets at these farms are also inefficient in terms of energy and resources; it takes more energy to produce enough pellets to feed farmed fish than the fish will provide as food themselves. Wild fish are easier on the environment due to their self-sustaining dietary habits and contributions to the local ecosystem.

Another problem stemming from fish farming is escapees. Individual fish have been reported escaping from net pens, exposing themselves to wild fish populations where they can spread diseases or even out-compete them. The Atlantic salmon is an example of a farmed fish that may out-compete its wild neighbors; the superior size gives it an advantage in finding food and warding off predators. Atlantic salmon are commonly farmed on the West Coast of the U.S. in coastal net pens, so an escapee could certainly be detrimental for the local wild Pacific salmon.

When you’re choosing your seafood, consider the source — for now, sustainably harvested wild fish are likely to be the best option both for your health and that of the environment.

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Reducing Red Meat

Photo: Flickr/Ronald Sarayudej

How much red meat is in your diet? Photo: Flickr/Ronald Sarayudej

If you’re like many Americans, eating healthier was one of your New Year’s resolutions. Now that 2015’s in full swing, you may have strayed from the goal, but there’s one easy way to get back on track: Cut down on your red meat consumption.

Instead of a burger at lunch, try a plant-based meal like green salad, hearty pasta, or vegetarian soup. Why? It’s good for your health — red meat is full of saturated fats and LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol, increasing your risk of heart disease — and the health of the planet.

The meat industry is responsible for a massive amount of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane are released from the industrial machinery, processing equipment, and even the animals themselves. According to the UN, raising livestock is one of the most significant contributors to global environmental issues, accounting for about 9 percent of human-related carbon dioxide emissions.

Eating animals is inefficient in terms of energy resources, too: Producing 1 pound of meat requires 16 pounds of grain. That meat could provide meals for about five people in America — however, the 16 pounds of grain could feed many more. If we skipped the meat and ate the grain instead, we would be using our resources much more efficiently. After all, consuming an animal means consuming all the food and water that animal consumed during its lifetime as well.

Not only do livestock use up food and water, but they can even degrade land. When raising livestock, it’s important to carefully manage grazing areas in order to maintain self-sustaining land. Many industrial farms don’t manage their land properly, leading to overgrazing by the livestock and, consequently, no more green grass for the animals. Once the land is overgrazed, livestock must be moved to a new area where grass is able to grow. This area, in turn, also becomes overgrazed and more and more land is degraded.

Becoming a vegetarian isn’t the only solution, though. By choosing a plant-based lunch, you can save 2.5 pounds of carbon dioxide, 133 gallons of water, and 24 square feet of land, according to data from the PB&J Campaign. If you’re a born-and-bred brisket eater or hog wild about hot dogs, start with Meatless Monday, a global movement encouraging everyone to skip meat one day a week — even that makes a big difference.

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Stop Trashing Your Pantry

According to a new report published by The Natural Resources Defense Council and Harvard’s Food Law and Policy Clinic, 9 out of 10 Americans throw away perfectly edible food because of inconsistent labeling of expiration dates and sell-by dates. The report explains the confusion consumers feel over the dates stamped on food packaging and they propose improvements to current policies to help curve the problem.

Many consumers do not understand what the dates on their food products actually mean. Many think the dates designate food safety when in reality they are indicating freshness, not spoilage. Evidence shows that consumers rely too heavily on label dates resulting in food being thrown out over unfounded safety concerns. Experts suggest that consumers focus on more relevant risk factors regarding their food, such as time and temperature control.

The researchers found that inconsistency of terms and dates on packages complicate the matter for consumers. They are calling for national standardization of the words used on packages and clarification to clearly distinguish between safety-based dates and quality-based dates. This would eliminate the commonly found and confusing “sell by” label on consumer packaging as it only pertains to retailers.

When it comes to food safety, common sense is the best defense. “Use-by” dates are only estimates and if your food shows no sign of spoilage then it is most likely still edible. It is always better to err on the side of caution if you feel your food has expired, but do not rely solely on the date stamped on the package until measures are taken to standardize dates and labels on food packaging.

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Green Eating for a Healthy Home

Creating eco-friendly meals for your family doesn’t have to involve expensive organic produce and pricey fair-trade ingredients. Just by buying local fruits and vegetables, reducing your family’s consumption of meat, and choosing sustainable seafood can help to reduce pollution, carbon emissions, and the strain on our Earth’s natural resources. Dolphin Blue has gathered some great vegetarian recipes to help you green your eating habits. You’ll probably find that what is good for the planet is also delicious!

Veggie Stuffed Shells

Portobello Pizzas

Turkey, Tomato and Emmentaler Breakfast Sandwiches

Responsible eating can start before your meal preparation begins and last after dinner has been enjoyed. Keep reading for some more ideas on how to keep your cooking and kitchen eco-friendly. And don’t forget to try out Dolphin Blue’s environmentally friendly Preserve Kitchenware and Tableware.

  • Research sustainable seafood to ensure the ecological health of the oceans. Read labels or speak to your grocer to see which species are caught and farmed responsibly to make sure you’re buying responsibly
  • Cut more and cook less. The more you are able to cut your food into smaller pieces, the less time it will take to cook and therefore the less energy you will use
  • Put a lid on it. When boiling or simmering, put a lid on your pot and turn of your burner. This will enable your food to cook while also saving energy
  • Try to use all edible parts of your food. Leave the skins on your produce (after your scrub it clean) and eat all parts of your fruits and vegetables if you’re able to
  • Grow your own food! Learn more about sustainable practices by growing your own food and teaching your family how to grow their own food. The distance from your garden to your table is very eco-friendly!

Keep checking the Dolphin Blue blog every week for more eco-friendly tips for your home and garden.

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The Taste Test: A Look at the Many Milk Alternatives as a Way to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

The glass of milk that you might have had for breakfast this morning may seem innocuous enough, but the truth is, milk—and the carbon footprint that it bears—is quite complex. The many emissions of the many processes that it takes to produce a gallon of milk (the feed production, the raising of the cows and milk production, the transportation and packaging, the distribution, the consumption, and the disposal of both the product and its container) might make the eco-friendly mind think twice about this ubiquitous dairy product that emits about 17.6 pounds of carbon for every gallon produced. Wondering about the other options out there, I went to my local grocery store to try out some alternatives to this bovine beverage.

Cashew MilkWhile doing research for this post, I found an incredibly easy recipe for cashew milk. There is always a great thrill when you get to eat something you made with your own hands. And it was not bad! It had a very sweet, almost wheaty taste. It was like when you leave cheerios in the milk for too long and then drink it straight from the bowl. Yummy!

Rice MilkThe rice milk was lighter than the cashew milk in both taste and color. It was pleasantly sweet and very delicious. I would recommend drinking this milk with cereal for breakfast. It would definitely wake me up!

Almond MilkThe vanilla flavored almond milk was a huge hit with my family. It was very sweet, and had the most un-milk-like taste of them all, but in a wonderful way. I can’t wait to try it with a big slice of chocolate cake to see if the sweetness of the two complements each other. My dad recommends that all of you put it in your morning coffee.

Hemp MilkAnd, last but not least, was the hemp milk. I’d have to say that this was my favorite, because it was like nothing I’d ever tasted. Still, it was very yummy. It had a brownish color to it and a light, woodsy taste. I’m not sure it would go as well as the others with cereal, but it could certainly stand on its own.

All in all, my safari through the different flavors of not-milk was highly satisfying. It is always fun to expand your food horizons, especially when it leads to sustainably-minded shopping. You can reduce your carbon footprint by buying recycled products from Dolphin Blue, today!

(This blog was written by Dolphin Blue’s amazing intern, Elisa Rivera.)

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Freeganism: A Waste-Free Way of Life

Freegans dumpster diving for re-usable items.Freeganism is a movement that focuses on reducing and making use of society’s waste by decreasing one’s participation in an economy of consumption and instead obtaining the resources needed to live—food, materials, shelter—through alternative means that are both free and produce minimal waste. Freeganism is very community-centered and demands to know why so many people starve every day or freeze to death out in the streets when at the same time tons of edible food is being thrown away and buildings lie vacant because the owner could not turn a profit on them. By standing up for these values in a variety of ways, Freegans promote sharing, food independence, and decreasing waste.

    • Waste reclamation/minimization: Rather than adding to the waste generated by consuming new materials, Freegans often acquire many of the materials and food that they need from dumpster diving and from community sharing programs like Free Stores. If there is a needed item that cannot be obtained from dumpster diving or community sharing programs, buying from second-hand stores is another way to reduce the waste coming from our society.
    • Alternative transportation: Buying gas and other necessities and accessories for cars contributes to our world’s dependence on greenhouse-gas-producing fossil fuels. Therefore, Freegans forgo the money- and resource-suck that are cars and choose alternative means of transportation like bikes, hitchhiking, and train jumping.
    • Rent-free housing: The waste in our society can also be seen in our communities’ willingness to let livable spaces remain empty when thousands of us live on the streets. Freegans recognize that housing is a right, not a privilege, and so practice squatting in abandoned buildings and house-sharing programs.
    • Going green: Freegans often plant community gardens (or, guerilla gardens) to gain food independence from giant agribusinesses, as well as to be able to share safe, free food with others. Freegans also forage for food and medicinal plants in the wilderness, proving that one can live independently from supermarkets and pharmacies as people once did not too long ago.
    • Working less: By living outside of the consumer-driven economy, Freegans don’t find the need to participate in monotonous, demanding work in order to earn a paycheck. Time could be better put to use volunteering in the community or doing something you enjoy. By working less or not working at all, Freegans refuse to be a cog in the corporate machines only to earn money to throw back at the many corrupt and wasteful companies.

Everyone in our society can work to reduce the exorbitant waste that we produce in our daily lives by learning from the Freegan example. By buying less, buying second-hand, and/or buying recycled we can all reduce the trash that threatens to bury us all. By growing our own garden, we can develop a relationship with nature while also becoming food independent.

(This blog was written by Dolphin Blue’s amazing intern, Elisa Rivera.)

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Infographic Friday: Guerilla Gardening

Ron Finley is an inspiring gardener in South Central Los Angeles. He plants vegetable gardens in some of the most unlikely places: abandoned lots, traffic medians, even along the curbs of neighborhood streets. Why does he do it? Check out the infographic below and then follow this link to watch his TED Talk. Maybe it will inspire you like it inspired us at Dolphin Blue.

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Exciting Eco-Eating: The Down & Dirty On Edible Insects

The U.N. recently released a report extolling the virtues of edible insects as an environmentally responsible alternative to meat as a source of protein and other nutrients.  With their high fat, protein, fiber, and mineral contents, edible insects certainly pack a healthy punch! What’s even better is that the cost to our environment to raise insects for consumption is far less than the impact of raising large livestock for meat.

Adding mealworms to caramel apples gives this fun treat a tasty crunch!

Adding mealworms to caramel apples gives this fun treat a tasty crunch!

Even though entomophagy, or the act of eating insects, hasn’t quite caught on in the West (yet!), in many other countries around the world, bugs are eaten with gusto and are often considered a delicacy. So, why should you add bugs to your menu?

The Problem: Meat is Unsustainable
Relying on large livestock (cattle, pigs, and chickens, for example) for one’s primary source of protein means one must rely on highly inefficient, greenhouse-gas-producing, and sometimes cruel practices to obtain nutrients. Not to mention the health problems associated with consuming too much meat.  With the world’s population growing at an incredible rate and the demand for food rising along with it, having enough land to support both people and large livestock will soon become an issue, as well. All this is why many have said that producing and consuming as much livestock as we do is not sustainable.

But, you’re not willing to go cold turkey on your meat and go vegetarian? Why not try substituting meat with insects every now and then? All the nutrients, none of the burden on our environment.

Edible Insects: Less is More
Insects are an eco-friendly food option for a simple reason: they need less—less food (some insects can be raised on human/animal waste, which reduces the possibility of environmental contamination and avoids wasting food that could be eaten by humans), less water, less space. They even release fewer greenhouse gases and ammonia than cows, pigs, and chickens.

Many insects’ feed conversion rates (the amount of feed it takes to put on 1 kg (2.2 lbs) of body weight in an animal) are much lower than traditional meat sources. The feed conversion rates of crickets, chickens, pigs, and cows are shown below:

Crickets 3.7 lbs of feed: 2.2 lbs of body weight gain
Chickens 5.5 lbs of feed: 2.2 lbs of body weight gain
Pigs 11 lbs of feed: 2.2 lbs of body weight gain
Cows 22 lbs of feed: 2.2 lbs of body weight gain

Large livestock create a larger toll on the earth with problems ranging from habitat destruction, loss of biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions, and contamination from livestock and feed farms and farming practices. In general, insects are more efficient to farm and their impact on the environment is much less severe.

For something we spend so much time and money trying to exterminate, insects may actually be the first step to a solution to many of our world’s burgeoning social and environmental problems. All we have to do is get past those legs.

Creepy Crawly Recipes
Looking for some yummy ways to try bugs? Check out these sites, and add some environmentally conscious treats to your plate.

http://edibug.wordpress.com/recipes/
http://www.ent.iastate.edu/misc/insectsasfood.html
http://www.insectsarefood.com/recipes.html

For other ways to add a splash of green to your life, check out Dolphin Blue for sustainable office, home, and pet supplies.

(This blog was written by Dolphin Blue’s amazing intern, Elisa Rivera.)

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Heroes of Sustainability: Michael Pollan

 

One hundred years ago, no one spent time thinking about where their food came from. That’s because they all knew. There were no mystery ingredients, meals didn’t by and large travel great distances before getting to the table, and farm animals weren’t injected with growth hormones. Today, you only need to stroll down the inside aisle of any grocery store, pick a package at random, and try to decipher the ingredients listed on the back to see that it’s not that simple anymore.

That unknown is what has driven much of Michael Pollan’s research over the years, including his famous and bestselling 2006 book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Bothered by the fact that he really didn’t know the origins of his food…

 

 

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Top Ten Reasons To Be a Green Business

One of my employees recently challenged me to create a “Top Ten” reasons to work for, own, or operate a ecologically friendly, green business.  Here is my take:

10. Because our planet is our “garden”. Only with a totally healthy and productive garden will we be able to live healthy and sustainable lives.

9. Because we’re running low on clean, drinkable, non-chemically-contaminated water.

8. Because we’re quickly losing clean, breathable, non-chemically-contaminated air.

7. Because we’re depleting the minerals and healthy state of our soil. Without healthy soil, we won’t have healthy food. Without healthy food, we can’t have healthy bodies.

6. Because a healthy, sustainable planet will provide great rewards in reduced healthcare costs, healthy employees who are productive and present, and will be much better employees.

5. Because as the owner/CEO of a green business, you’ll sleep better at night, knowing you’re doing your part.

4. Because, as a parent, you’ll sleep better at night, knowing you’re leaving a sustainable planet for your children and future generations.

3. Because you will be happier and healthier, living on a planet that you know has a rich diversity of fellow species, all doing their part in maintaining the balance of nature.

2. Because customers/consumers are looking for businesses with which they have a “values alignment”.  People buy from people and companies they know and trust are doing good.

and most important. ..

1. Because your children deserve at least as much of a natural world we have had.

Here’s hoping you make green waves at work,

Thomas Kemper, Owner and Founder

www.dolphinblue.com

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