Man, this eating meat thing is confusing.

I’m the household menu planner. Since meat eating has returned to my life, it has also returned to the menus. I figured eating meat could easily become its own health issue for me. A diet alternating between beef and pork would probably not help me meet my goals for blood cholesterol. On the other hand, I want more variety in my meals than daily chicken can provide. So, I looked around for the best current guidance on what we should be eating on the meat front.

The answer, basically, is fish. Twice a week. And don’t eat too much meat. OK, we can do that. But which fish should we be eating.? Fish is a bit mysterious to me. Growing up, the only fish I recall eating at home was 1) poor man’s lobster (boiled whitefish with melted butter) and 2) whatever we’d recently caught on a fishing trip – scaled, floured and fried. Getting healthier by adding more butter and fried food to my diet seemed an unlikely prospect.

So other fish recipes needed to be found… and I found them! Malabar swordfish curry, halibut tacos, a not-quite cioppino with scallops and tilapia, serbian-style cod, gingered salmon. All of them – yum! I wanted more, so I checked out some cookbooks from the library. They were mostly more of the same, but also a warning… don’t eat swordfish more than once a month. Too much mercury.

Oh crap. What else is gonna be trouble? Well, let’s see… shark, swordfish, tilefish, and king mackerel are high in mercury; non-canned tuna, red snapper and orange roughy aren’t quite as bad. But, also make sure that at least one of the fish per week is a fatty fish (salmon, herring, halibut). And shrimp is high in cholestrol, but you don’t have to worry about it because it’s also high in omega 3 fatty acids. And that leaves out the issue of wild caught vs. farmed. Farmed fish tends to have lower Omega 3 fatty acids than the wild-caught version of the same fish. On the other hand, farmed fish tend to get sick more, and that disease can infect local wild fish. And if you’re raising fish in an area where they aren’t native, there’s also the issue of escapes, which can overrun already endangered native species, pushing them to the brink. Then again, many of the wild-caught fish are caught in irresposible manner, endangering stocks, or carrying larger loads of toxins. Cripes! I’m going to need a cheat sheet. By the time I research all of this stuff, I’m going to need a book of notes just to plan the menu!


Mark Czerniec said...

This is exactly how we have ended up eating chicken thighs, followed by chicken thighs, followed by chicken thighs -- plus sushi every six months.

We're kind of on the opposite course from you --- trying to eat less meat, more plants, ala Mark Bittman. http://zi.ma/2327b6

BA said...

I find it quite humorous that in order to post this the word verification is "Pork" :-) Mmmmm....pork