Fish has gone through all the same health stages that eggs have: healthy, not healthy, only the whites, only pastured, only brown, avoid them, eat at least two a day. There was a wave of media telling us all to eat more fish, then some fears about heavy metals in fish; then tilapia became cheap and available as an alternative to salmon & tuna, but questions arose about low standards from imported, farmed fish.
Humans have depleted natural stores of popular fish to deplete to endangered levels because we’ve all been led to believe they’re the only healthy options. The Penn State Fisheries Department is actually world renowned and is leading the world to sustainably farmed (and really healthy) fish. Farmed fish is not all bad.
There are plenty of safe, healthy, and environmentally friendly ways to get fish to your table, depending on what fish you want to eat. Some fish are fine (even great!) to forage and harvest, because these fish are well managed in the wild and have healthy populations. There are others that are best purchased from fish farms. These fish have had sustainable farms designed for them. Still more are great to buy from fishermen, through your grocery store, or from a dedicated seafood seller who pays attention to how the fish are caught.
What seafood can I “forage” for?
+ Steelhead Trout is a native relative of salmon and is less expensive with the same health benefits and flavor. You can also take a trip up to Steelhead Alley in Northeast PA for a great fishing trip. The coldest months are the best ones to fish this well stocked fish, but you’ll need waterproof neoprene for that adventure. http://www.fishsteelheadalley.com/advice/25-beginners
+ Trout in general is a well stocked fished in PA with opening day in April http://www.fishinpa.com/trout-salmon-fishing-permits-in-pa/
+ Striped Bass or Maryland Rockfish is another great whole fish that you can purchase or catch, but you’ll have to wait till May to catch your own! http://www.eregulations.com/maryland/fishing/striped-bass/
+ Clams are an underappreciated local seafood that one of my foraging friends recently encouraged me to go get now! In New Jersey a permit to collect up to 150 clams is only $20 http://www.eregulations.com/newjersey/fishing/saltwater/shellfish-crab-information/
What other whole fish is easy to purchase & cook?
+ Branzino is an easily farm raised whole fish that is super easy to cook with a consistent size, super mild flavor and a good amount of fat to make it a great starter fish for home cooks!
+ Yellow Perch is a very lean and locally sourced white fish with a mild flavor that does well with a salt-bake.
+ Panfish or Crappie is a native, mild, white fish that can come in small or large sizes.
+ Red Snapper from your local fishmonger is mild fish with a bit of sweetness. It’s not as fatty, so a salt-bake is excellent to keep it moist.
Where can I buy great fish?
As with most foods in our American system, the best approach is to go directly to a knowledgeable source who is staying current on a particular food distribution chain. If you want to source fish without having to think about it, our short list goes like this:
Mr. Bill’s Seafood in Lancaster, Pa https://www.mrbillsseafood.com
Louie, Louie Seafood in York, Pa http://www.louielouieseafood.com/
Whole Foods in various locations https://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/
Old Line Fish Company in Annapolis, MD http://oldlinefish.com/
Ocean City Seafood in Silver Spring, MD https://oceancityseafoodls.wixsite.com/website
Captain White’s Seafood in Washington, DC https://www.wharfdc.com/fish-market/
Tablefield Grocery, Online Delivery, DMV https://tablefieldgrocery.com