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Old 29-11-2007, 07:53   #1
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Pescatarians and Fish These Days

Pescatarians:

Do you guys find that fish is not as good as it used to be? Aside from mercury concerns, my wife and I have gotten sick off of fish several times in the past couple years. Add cigutera (from the Caribbean reef fish) to the equation and I'm pretty gun shy about fish (even though it's one of my favorite foods).

Fish sickness we have had in the past 2 years:

*Scrombroid (TWICE!)
*General stomach upset from scallops
*General stomach upset from Sole
*Constant worry that the methyl mercury levels are high

We both feel that fish have been ruined and the ocean is not in great shape (here on the East Coast of the USA). You are advised against eating so many species that bait fish (mackerel and the like) are all we have left.

Add red tide algae blooms to the picture for shellfish and you're really out of options.

What are some general feelings about all of this? Does anyone else notice a trend?

Seems like catching your own fish far FAR away from civilization is the only way to enjoy good fish anymore. Opinions?
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Old 29-11-2007, 11:17   #2
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It's probably a lot safer than chicken. I've been sick most often from chicken and never sick from fish. Worse sick was from beef by a huge amount. I wanted to die I got sick from beef.
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Old 29-11-2007, 11:36   #3
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It's probably a lot safer than chicken. I've been sick most often from chicken and never sick from fish. Worse sick was from beef by a huge amount. I wanted to die I got sick from beef.
Interesting, Paul.

Was the beef rare, or below the suggested temperature for serving? And how about the chicken?

I haven't had beef in at least a year - we only eat venison to satisfy that type of meat. So far, so good, but we cook our meat to the point of well done.

Funny that we live fairly close (in terms of oceans) and yet have had such different experiences with fish. My suspicion is that some of our fish illnesses were due to poor handling between the boat and our plate.

Mainly, the bad fish came from supermarkets.
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Old 29-11-2007, 12:40   #4
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I'm contemplating cutting out breathing air. There are so many impurities in it these days that you just can't be sure. Will see how that goes and then consider stopping drinking water. Anyone else trying this?
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Old 29-11-2007, 13:15   #5
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I have eaten fish probably one a week all my life. lots of it caught off of the oil platforms off the Louisiana coast the rest from bays and bayous. Never a problem (yet). I have also eaten it in Asia, South America, and Africa without problems.
I did have dinner in a nice restaurant in West Plam Beach FL with a friend and his wife she came down with ciguatera from a snapper dish teh restaurant covered her medical bills. I also have 2 friends in the D.R. who caught ciguatera (different places and times) they have told me it is very painful and lasts a long time.
It
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Old 29-11-2007, 13:25   #6
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I have eaten fish probably once a week all my life, cooked or raw in sashimi, ceviche and sushi. Lots of it caught off of the oil platforms off the Louisiana coast the rest from bays and bayous. Never a problem (yet). I have also eaten it in Asia, South America, Caribbean, and Africa without problems.
I did have dinner in a nice restaurant in West Plam Beach FL with a friend and his wife, she came down with ciguatera from a snapper dish, the restaurant covered her medical bills. I also have 2 friends in the D.R. who caught ciguatera (different places and times) they have told me it is very painful and lasts a long time. You couldn't pay them enough to eat fish now.
It seems you have watch out for large reef fish, and where you buy the fish, just looking at some of it in most supermarkets turns my stomach, how long do they leave it out?!
As to Mercury, Lead, Arsenic and others in water I have never met any one who suffered from any of these so don't worry about them. I have spent too many years about 50, biting on lead sinkers and cast net weights etc without any problem.

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Old 29-11-2007, 13:26   #7
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Sean, I would suggest that especially in light of global pollution, overfishing, the incredibly high price of fish (which is making the market in illegally-taken, intentionally mislabelled, and sometimes toxic fish very profitable)...Enjoy buy enjoy it with great caution.

When it comes to shellfish (you did mention scallops, that ain't fish[g]) you CANNOT eat them unless you know or trust the source. That means either taking them in waters you know are clean, or buying them from a reputable source--and even they sometimes are deceived by their suppliers.

Scrombroid poisoning means someone didn't handle the fish properly. My parents generation was taught to defrost frozen fish and poultry by leaving it in the fridge overnight or leaving it on the counter--at room temperature. Today, if you check the USDA web site or any other, they'll tell you very clearly NEVER LEAVE IT ON THE COUNTER. Not at all, not for any time. And it used to be normal to defrost poultry on a tray, cook it, and them serve it on the same tray. Again, we know better now--but lots of folks say "Well I never got sick so why should I..."

Add cheap labor and distributors who don't handle food (shellfish, fish, poultry, whatever) properly and it comes down to the fact that you really have to trust someone before you buy or take food from them.

I like to joke that southern fried chicken is health food: What can survive pressure cooking in boiling oil?<G> Except the scrombroid toxins, maybe.

But ciguatera...I thought someone was working on a test strip to test for that, and in the meantime the word was to avoid certain species (like barracuda) that are prone to it, and check for local knowledge to find out if it is a problem in the area.

I still prefer fish taken right off the spear and cooked on the beach: Makes the cleanup easier, too. Totally eliminates the "how was it handled" issues, too. If I walk into a fish store and it smells like fish (i.e. has ANY odor) I'll walk right out again, I'm just not willing to gamble that way.
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Old 29-11-2007, 14:27   #8
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Quote:
My suspicion is that some of our fish illnesses were due to poor handling between the boat and our plate.
Thats about it. Meat being handled improperly yields to all the really fun diseases. With chicken and fish you always should wash it completely first. Storing it too warm or too long will grow all the bacteria you need to get sick.
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Old 29-11-2007, 14:40   #9
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I'm contemplating cutting out breathing air. There are so many impurities in it these days that you just can't be sure. Will see how that goes and then consider stopping drinking water. Anyone else trying this?

Dude... you gotta cut me just a centimeter of slack. I buy half my meat from NZ. All our venison is frozen over there and shipped here for consumption. Doesn't that earn me a little bit of respect? ha ha

Guess you haven't had cigutera. You wouldn't be joking about that one. It's BRUTAL. I know several people that got it while I was in the Caribbean. The oddest part was the reversal of hot and cold. One of the crew on the megayacht I was working on got it and that was one of the main symptoms he had (aside from the other HELL he went through)
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Old 29-11-2007, 14:52   #10
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I'm contemplating cutting out breathing air. There are so many impurities in it these days that you just can't be sure. Will see how that goes and then consider stopping drinking water. Anyone else trying this?
I might try one of these suggestions but I aint giving up my fish
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Old 29-11-2007, 15:30   #11
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Salted in the shell peanuts did it to me. I thought I was gonna die.
The local health department said it came from rat turds.

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Old 29-11-2007, 18:57   #12
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You have been brainwashed by the media.

The ocean is CLEANER than it was 40 years ago. My grandparents owned a beach house on the east coast when I was growing up. We were not allowed back in the house after visiting the beach until we had the tar cleaned off our feet with kerosene. My parnets now live in that house and you NEVER see tarballs on the beach any more. Just an example of the fact that the "good old days" were not.

By the way you do know that scrombroid poisening has nothing to do with the fish when it was caught be is a result of poor handling, and the resulting spoilage, of the fish AFTER capture? In fact, all of the events you descripe are more likely a result of spoilage NOT contamination. You should find a new fish market and keep eating fish.
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Old 29-11-2007, 19:48   #13
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By the way you do know that scrombroid poisening has nothing to do with the fish when it was caught be is a result of poor handling, and the resulting spoilage, of the fish AFTER capture? In fact, all of the events you descripe are more likely a result of spoilage NOT contamination. You should find a new fish market and keep eating fish.
Good points. I have been eating fish and shellfish 3 times a week minimum for 25 years all over Asia. Knowing how to spot good fish in the market is important.

The smell as somone pointed out is one way. The eyes should be clear. The skin wet firm and smooth. The gills should be in good shape and still bright in color. The fish should also be somewhat firm and definitely not squishy anywhere.

Time from catch to sell is critical. If you eat in restaurants, ask the manager where the supply comes from and what is the supply time. If he doesn't know I'd bet it's not good seafood.

I am also a bit of a snob. Most restaurants in the US use fillets and/or flash frozen stuff. Not for me. I like it grilled with the head on so I know what I am getting. I will eat sea bass, mahi mahi, swordfish and other game fish fillets but only at select restaurants.

I eat lot's of shells as well although I prefer them in soups or grilled. I don't like them raw.

Prawns. lobster, crayfish and bugs are similar to fish. Gotta be fresh.

I have had food poisining only once in this time. It was definitely a restaurant preparation/cleanliness issue.

BTW - Just my opinion but restaurant seafood in general in the US sucks unless you go to a specially restaurant or a high end restaurant. Anything with batter or breadcrumbs on it is not seafood in my opinion - LOL
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Old 29-11-2007, 20:58   #14
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I stopped eating tuna altogether because mercury it is found in all tuna at varying trace amounts and mercury is bio-accumulative, meaning it never leaves the body. I have substituted canned pelagic salmon for canned tuna. I rarely eat canned salmon anyway.

The only good fish I can find are the pelagic species caught the same day. I prefer to see the head of whatever I eat, before I eat it. Seeing the head confirms the specie and how fresh it is.

I would say there is much more garbage fish being served out there than good fish. People are unknowingly paying good prices for questionable fish.
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Old 30-11-2007, 01:28   #15
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Dude... you gotta cut me just a centimeter of slack. I buy half my meat from NZ. All our venison is frozen over there and shipped here for consumption. Doesn't that earn me a little bit of respect? ha ha

Guess you haven't had cigutera. You wouldn't be joking about that one. It's BRUTAL. I know several people that got it while I was in the Caribbean. The oddest part was the reversal of hot and cold. One of the crew on the megayacht I was working on got it and that was one of the main symptoms he had (aside from the other HELL he went through)
Never heard of cigutera here Sean. I guess we are pretty lucky. We get the odd algle bloom and have to stop eating shellfish for a few weeks but our fish is good. Is it like a flu? What causes it, food poisoning?
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