Oil Spill Update: Is Fish Still Safe to Eat?

Want to enjoy the benefits of fish, like Omega-3 fatty acids and healthy protein without having to be worried about contamination from the Gulf oil spill or heavy metals, like mercury?  Discover the best seafood choices for you, and build your inner ecosystem with healthy probiotic foods that help you digest your food and even neutralize toxins.

Has the Gulf oil spill made you re-think eating fish?  If so, you are not alone. Many of us are concerned about the safety of our food supply that comes from the Gulf waters. We’re now in the third month of the horrific BP oil spill, which has been hailed as the largest manmade environmental disaster in history. Oil spills not only contaminate environments, fish and other wildlife, but they can even impact the food you enjoy with your family. What’s worse is that we are likely to experience these drastic affects for many years to come.

What’s the Danger?

Fish that have been fished out of the Gulf could be tainted. The FDA and CDC have been adamant in their statements alluding to the safety of current seafood stock.  But, as scores of sharks and dolphins and schools of fish head to healthier waters close to the shore, we must consider where they came from. These “safe” fish are fleeing their normal, and now very polluted, habitat.

Filter-feeding fish – and shellfish, in particular – may be especially hazardous. These filter-feeders are notorious for being the “garbage fish” of the sea because they eat waste. If there are any toxins or hazardous substances in their environment, they become the most easily contaminated, and therefore pass on harmful toxins and other pathogens to you.

Make Sure You See and Smell Your Seafood!

Experts advise that there will be some telltale signs if you have tainted seafood:

  • Oil-tainted fish meat will smell like oil.
  • Seafood that has been contaminated will tend to feel rubbery or mushy.
  • Fish and other ocean products that have been polluted will look unhealthy – this could mean paler than normal, gray, or even tinged with brown hues.

Right Now, Fish May be Scary…But You’ve Got to Eat!

If you’ve been following Body Ecology, you know that fish is a great way to get your animal protein. It’s full of easy- to-digest protein when combined with cultured foods, and serves a valuable role as a contracting and strengthening food in the Body Ecology principle of Expansion and Contraction. Eating fish helps you feel grounded and strong.

Fish is also an abundant source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which you need to:

  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Lower your heart rate
  • Lower your risk of death from heart disease
  • Lower your risk for stroke
  • Lower your risk for depression
  • Lower your risk of some cancers

Now What?

If your only source of animal protein is fish, don’t be afraid. If you buy fish that has been caught from the Pacific or Atlantic Oceans, you’re still in the clear. If, however, you live near the Gulf, you may want to avoid local fish for a while.

Recently, scientists have found that freshwater fish is also less likely to be contaminated by mercury. So, if you live near a lake, you may consider buying locally caught fresh water seafood.

Build Your Own Inner Ecosystem

Inside your digestive tract is a thriving inner ecosystem of microflora (good bacteria and yeast) that keep you healthy and strong. These are called probiotics. The best probiotics are found in fermented foods, like coconut kefircultured vegetablesmiso, and natto.

You need plenty of fermented foods in your diet to build a healthy inner eco system that can protect you from illness and help you eliminate toxins, naturally. Each meal, especially meals including animal proteins, should always be combined with fermented foods.

The Friendly Bacteria and Yeasts in Fermented Foods Can:

What About Mercury?

Mercury in fish has been another growing concern that often deters us from eating seafood. But, how can you get the nutritional benefits from fish without having to worry about toxins like mercury?

Recent studies at Duke University found that “the potentially harmful form of mercury called methylmercury attaches onto dissolved organic matter in freshwater, but latches onto the salt (chloride) in seawater.” This makes our saltwater seafood selections potentially more dangerous, where mercury is concerned, because the ocean fish we eat can ingest more mercury.

The mercury in fresh waters tends to bond to “decaying organic matter” like plants and animals. The sun can then convert the mercury in fresh water to a less harmful form of mercury.

There are plenty of healthy fish choices living in fresh waters, like salmon and cod. Remember that the healthy bacteria in fermented foods like cultured vegetables will help digest your fish as well as help neutralize mercury and other toxins.

Fish can be a great way to benefit from animal protein and Omega-3 fatty acids. Just remember when choosing your fish to be cautious of where it comes from. Also, examine it for defects before purchasing. Always combine your fish with fermented foods for optimum digestion and nutrient absorption. Beneficial bacteria have been used for years to clean up toxins in the oceans including oils spills. So they can certainly clean up the toxins and heavy metals inside your intestines.

We don’t know when the massive problems caused by the oil spill will be cleaned up, but we do know that it’s possible to protect yourself and your family. If you’re not comfortable eating seafood right now, remember to replace that protein with another source like eggs and chicken – not eliminate it.


  1. Reeves, Jay. “Sea Life Migrates to Avoid Spilled Oil: Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill | Adn.com.” Anchorage Daily News. Web. 01 July 2010. <http://www.adn.com/2010/06/16/1327233/sea-life-migrates-to-avoid-spilled.html>.
  2. USA. Centers for Disease Control. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web. 30 June 2010. <http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/foodborneinfections_g.htm>.
  3. Haber, Bill. “Trained Noses to Sniff out Gulf Seafood for Oil | NOLA.com.” Www.nola.com. Web. 01 July 2010. <http://www.nola.com/news/gulf-oil-spill/index.ssf/2010/06/trained_noses_to_sniff_out_gul.html>
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