Tilapia is a very common fish eaten across the planet, but most of the Tilapia sold in stores is farmed. Tilapia is a smaller, herbivorous fish and people like it because it is mild, flaky, and affordable. Many fish farms have a bad reputation for producing fish that is not as healthy for you, and not good for planet.
This is a typical Tilapia fish farm. The fish are packed in, and do not have a lot of space to move freely. This can lead to a lot of disease and poor meat quality. Fish in these conditions have been found to have less of the good fats, like Omega-6 and Omega-3, in them.
This infographic illustrated some of the major reasons that fish farms can damage the environment. Farmed species often accidentally escape into the wild, which can forever change our wild populations when they breed. All of these fish jammed together in nets lead to an increase of diseases and pushes for humans to use cheap food to feed them. The fish are given antibiotics as well as cheap low grade foods and you are then ingesting all of it!
Tilapia may not be the best option for your health or the environment, but at least it is a better option than many other fish that are on the red list. If the Tilapia you eat is farmed in the U.S, it is a much better option than if it is farmed overseas. Choosing fish that are herbivores, like Tilapia, reduces the amount of feed needed to raise it. For example, one pound of Tilapia takes only 1-1.4 pounds of feed, while 1 pound of salmon would take over 3 pounds of feed.
This article looked at the environmental impact, health, and taste of Tilapia. It found that Tilapia has a bad environmental reputation from past fishing practices, but that practices have cleaned up in most areas, including Central and South America. It also found that Tilapia ranks lower than most other fish in terms of health benefits (like Omega-3's) but it is still a healthier option that red meat. In a blind taste test, Tilapia came out even with many other high quality fish, including Rainbow Trout, Red Snapper, and Barramundi. So, maybe it is not so bad after all?
Fish is a low fat, high protein food that has a range of health benefits. However, given what we know of fish and its sources today, that's not always true. Even though it may not be so bad for the environment, the health drawbacks alone should lead to you to choose another option. Farmed fish like Tilapia can have very high levels of mercury, and pesticides. Better Explanation = This is not necessarily a good source, but it tells the story of why people think that Tilapia is so bad for you! This site talks about a lot of negative drawbacks to eating Tilapia. This site explains that farmed Tilapia can have high levels of mercury and pesticides, which can be harmful to your health in high doses. So, though some of these statements are true, it is very one-sided and research does not really show that it is worse than bacon.
SUMMARY: Tilapia prices have been increasing. This increase is a result of production. We do not know when prices will drop again. SUSTAINABILITY: This is no sustainable because it will drive prices up. This makes Tilapia unaffordable. That is one of the reasons that it is eaten by so many across the world. CONNECTIONS: We are talking about overfishing. Overfishing is a big problem. Tilapia is a main fish that people eat so we don't want it to be more expensive.
SUMMARY: Tilapia has a bad reputation but The Global Seafood Market Conference investigated its bad reputation on the internet. They found that the press uses some sensationalized practices to talk about Tilapia in a negative way, and it doesn't deserve this reputation. For example, They looked at over 4,500 stories on the internet, and 56% were negative (23%) or nuetral (33%) in 2017. Yet, recent research is starting to show that Tilapia is becoming more and more sustainable to eat. Clickbait websites are mostly to blame for Tilapia's bad reputation. SUSTAINABLILITY / IMPACTS: This news is great for both people and the environment. It shows that maybe people just think that it is bad due to an old reputation. This impacts the fishing industry and jobs because people are not buying it, but it is actually an okay option if you know where it is from. CONNNECTIONS: This article shows that people should not just believe (and click on) the first thing that they read. This is a problem that goes far beyond Tilapia but is also threaded through many other environmental problems. It reminds me of learning about GMO's in class, where science has not found that they are bad, but the media portrays them this way. It makes one wonder how many other issues are misunderstood and misrepresented in the media. One should always double check their sources and do more research!
These the top 3 tips for buying the best Tilapia. 1. Buying Tilapia that is raised in freshwater makes them taste better, and if it is sourced from the U.S, Mexico, and Honduras is is more likely to be good for the planet. 2. Tilapia that is "Clean-Fed" is ideal. 3. Buy Tilapia that is growth hormone free. These details are often not listed on the package, but a quick google search of the brand can usually get you an answer.
Regal Springs Tilapia grow healthy and strong in pristine, deep-water lakes in Mexico, Honduras and Indonesia. Our fish swim in large floating nets and again they are good for you.
Tilapia may not be such a bad option after all. It is not the best seafood option, but if you are determined to eat Tilapia, you should look for fish with one of these labels or find Tilapia that is harvested in the Americas. Grocery stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's also carry fish that is always sustainable. Though there is some information on the internet about Tilapia being as bad as bacon, it is somewhat sensationalized and not backed by science.