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How to Increase Your Chances of Eating Locally Caught Seafood

National Public Radio reported today that fish and spices are most often the culprits that make people sick. "It's not that imported foods are any nastier than homegrown, according to a presentation today from researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's that we're eating a lot more of them."

Since the 1990s, the amount of food imported by the U.S. has doubled. Such is the case with fish, as we reported in this week's review.

More than three-quarters of the 5 billion pounds of

fish eaten in the U.S. each year -- less-valued species such as farmed

shrimp and catfish -- is imported. Meanwhile, the U.S. exports 2.7

billion pounds of higher-valued fish like ahi tuna to overseas markets

for a higher price.

Since there's hardly a penalty in place for importers, vendors, or chefs who misrepresent fish, it's up to consumers to be more attentive if they're interested in eating locally caught fish.

Use the safe seafood guide
Educate yourself on sustainable seafood options through apps such as this one. Learn what fish is most often caught and sold in local waters.

Be open

Consider fish that's not as prized. If grouper and red snapper are among your go-tos, consider other species, since they're among the most misrepresented fish. Lionfish, anyone?

Power of the paycheck

When you're shopping, be attentive to where it's sourced. If it's not labeled, ask. Find a local seafood shop you can trust, particularly if you can't pin down the seafood sourcing from your local market.

Become a regular

Whether it's a seafood shop or a locally owned and managed

restaurant, get to know the staff at a place you have reason to trust.

Be vocal

If you think that shouting down a black hole will help, you can embrace earnestness and contact members of Congress about fish fraud and imports. A somewhat more proactive approach may be to consider supporting organizations that represent your concerns.

You can also report local restaurant or market fraud here.

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Food Critic
Contact: Melissa McCart

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