The Wellness Blog
US Wellness cattle are enjoying spring pastures in sunny southern Alabama.
By: Kelley Herring, Healing Gourmet
Fukushima. The Gulf oil spill. Polluted fish farms. Genetically engineered salmon.
While seafood – and omega-3 rich fish in particular – has always been an excellent source of vital nutrients, widespread contamination has left many of us wondering…
What fish is safe?
Unfortunately, more than 90 percent of the seafood consumed in the United States is imported. What’s more, a report by Food & Water Watch, found that less than 2% of the 860,000 imported seafood shipments were visually inspected and less than 1% were actually tested for contaminants.
If that’s not enough, there is an industry-wide “bait-and-switch” that is occurring. Fraudulently labeled seafood is turning up in cans, restaurants and even in your local grocery.
In today’s article, I’ll show you how you can protect yourself from the health-harming contaminants found in seafood and the clean options that will provide you with power-packed nutrition.
“Fishy” Seafood and The Safer Options
#1 Imported & Farm-Raised Catfish: Also called Basa and Swam, almost 90 percent of catfish comes from Vietnam – a country with loose regulations on the use of dangerous antibiotics and other chemicals.
Safer Catch: Like catfish, pollock is a mild, white fish with a delicate flavor that’s naturally low in mercury. Look for pollock from the US, Canada and Norway which provide the most eco-friendly harvesting.
#2 Eel: Also called unagi, eel is primarily farmed in China. Toxic nitrofuran – a powerful carcinogen – and many other drugs and pesticides are used to reduce the spread of disease in eel pens. Eel is also highly contaminated with mercury and cancer-causing PCBs.
Safer Catch: Swap eel for squid – an eco-friendly option that is low in contaminants, a great source of protein and easy to prepare.
#3 Atlantic Flatfish: These fish – including sole, flounder and halibut – are high in contaminants. They also have a long history of being overfished, contributing to the collapse of our oceans.
Safer Catch: Swap Atlantic halibut for Pacific halibut– a delicious option that’s environmentally friendly.
#4 Imported & Farm-Raised Shrimp: One of the dirtiest seafoods sold is imported farmed shrimp. Chemical residues, antibiotics and an assortment of other contaminants have been found in farmed shrimp.
Safer Catch: While avoiding imported, farmed shrimp can greatly reduce your exposure to contaminants, it’s important to note that 70 percent of domestic shrimp comes from the Gulf of Mexico. With the recent oil spill, this raises concern for the health of these shrimp stocks. Your best bet is MSC-certified wild-caught Pacific shrimp from Oregon.
#5 Farmed Atlantic Salmon: Due to cramped quarters, rampant disease and a steady diet of “fish meal”, farmed salmon is rife with chemical contaminants ranging from pesticides and antibiotics to PCBs. In fact, fish consumption data shows that 800,000 U.S. adults eat enough PCBs from farmed salmon to exceed the allowable lifetime cancer risk 100 times over! Also of concern is the FDA’s consideration to allow genetically engineered salmon to be sold, unlabeled, in the near future.
Safer Catch: Avoid chemical contaminants and “Frankenfish” by choosing only wild Alaskan salmon.
#6 Atlantic Bluefin Tuna: According to the New York Times, Atlantic bluefin tuna have the highest levels of mercury and have reached near-extinction levels. Choosing more eco-friendly tuna varieties (like albacore or yellowfin) may not be the answer, either. Oceana - a non-profit ocean protection group – collected 1,215 samples from seafood vendors from 2010 to 2012. They found that 59% of tuna is not just mislabeled but it is almost entirely compromised of escolar - a fish once banned by the FDA.
Safer Catch: Swap tuna for smaller (but just as flavorful) Atlantic mackerel and sardines. You’ll enjoy all of the health benefits of omega-3 rich fish, without the high levels of mercury and contaminants…not to mention questionable contents.
Keeping Healthy Fish on Your Plate and In Our Oceans
As the use of chemicals and unnatural agricultural practices soars to meet global food demand, it becomes increasingly more important to take a closer look at the origins of your food.
Know your farmer and your fishermen. Read labels. Ask questions.
While the health effects of these chemicals may not be immediately felt, their long term impact on human health is indisputable. Protect your health tomorrow by saying “no” to contaminated seafood today!
ED NOTE: Do you love rich, buttery desserts… but not the grain or sugar? Then check out Kelley’s one-of-a-kind program called Guilt-Free Desserts. You won’t believe just how easy it can be to make extraordinary dessert creations that are as healthy as they are delicious!
1. Ronald A. Hites, Jeffery A. Foran, David O. Carpenter, M. Coreen Hamilton, Barbara A. Knuth, Steven J. Schwager. Global Assessment of Organic Contaminants in Farmed Salmon. Science 9 January 2004: Vol. 303 no. 5655 pp. 226-229 DOI: 10.1126/science.1091447
2. Ronald A. Hites, Jeffery A. Foran, David O. Carpenter, M. Coreen Hamilton, Barbara A. Knuth, Steven J. Schwager. Global Assessment of Organic Contaminants in Farmed Salmon. Science 9 January 2004: Vol. 303 no. 5655 pp. 226-229 DOI: 10.1126/science.1091447 Lymbery, P. CIWF Trust report, "In Too Deep - The Welfare of Intensively Farmed Fish" (2002)
3. EWG. PCBs in Farmed Salmon. Jane Houlihan. July 2003.
4. Miyazaki,W., Iwasaki, T. Takeshita, A. Polychlorinated Biphenyls Suppress Thyroid Hormone Receptor-mediated Transcription through a Novel Mechanism J. Biol. Chem. 2004 279: 18195-18202. First Published on February 25, 2004, doi:10.1074/jbc.M310531200
5. Schantz, SL., Widholm, JJ and Rice, DC. 2003. Effects of PCB exposure on neuropsychological function in children. Environ Health Perspect 111 (3): 357-576.
6. Import Alert: Government Fails Consumers, Falls Short on Seafood Inspections. Food and Water Watch. May 30th, 2007
7. New York Times. In China, Farming Fish in Toxic Waters. 12/15/2007
8. Oceana Study Reveals Seafood Fraud Nationwide. February 21, 2013
9. New York Times. Bluefin tuna and an ocean of troubles. Published: Monday, February 4, 2008
10. Environmental Defense Fund. Seafood Selector.
September marks our 12 Year Anniversary! From humble beginnings to a thriving grass-fed operation, we couldn’t be more grateful. Of course we wouldn’t be where we are today without the support of our loyal customers. We thank each and every one of you for your continued patronage over the years and throughout this incredible journey.
Twelve years ago we started with a very modest beginning. Looking back, USWM was founded by lifelong farmer John Wood, the idea grew out of his realization that there was a unique way of raising cattle for a growing niche of consumers who were beginning to understand the health benefits of CLA and Omega-3s from free-range meat. The idea was spawned from a lecture on holistic land management. Most of the farmers walked away and returned to traditional farming principles, but our founding members left inspired. They saw a future of healthier land and healthier animals with these sustainable farming principles.
In 1997, we harvested our first animal. Grass-fed from start to finish, it had been raised with all the principles of holistic land management and sustainability. And it was delicious. Even better, lab tests showed that the meat was high in all kinds of nutrients, Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, CLA, and other nutrients. In 1997, 1998 and 1999, we raised even more animals on a 100% forage diet. And so USWM was born.
Our premium grass-fed beef is recognized for its exceptional taste, quality and health benefits by chefs, health experts, professional athletes, and many others. Throughout the last decade, our demand has been growing rapidly due to more and more people discovering the many health benefits of grass-fed meat. Today, the company is still a thriving family-owned business run by its founding families. We take great pride in knowing we are able to offer the highest quality of grass-fed products, and have them delivered right to your door, anywhere in the continental United States.
Over the years, our product line has expanded as well. We have partnered up with other like-minded small family farms across the country to expand our offerings to include grass-fed lamb, grass-fed bison, grass-fed butter and cheese, free-range chicken, compassionate certified pork, wild-caught seafood, gourmet rabbit, raw honey, olive oil, pet food, and other gourmet snacks. We now have over 500 specialty selections shipping every week. You can also find our fine meats at many retail locations and restaurants located across the country.
So as we celebrate the last twelve years, we want to give special thanks to not only our customers, but also all of our supporters in the paleo/primal circle, crossfit community, WAP followers, strongman competitors, college and professional athletes, affiliates, wholesale clientele, concerned parents, and everyone who stood behind us all these years. There are far too many to list, but you have all played an integral role in our continued success. Thank you for being advocates for USWM and spreading the good word on smart proteins. Your efforts are very much appreciated. We hope for continued partnerships for many more years to come. From all of us at USWM, we look forward to the next twelve years of doing what's good for our animals, good for our planet, and good for you.
From Northeast Missouri to picturesque Tasmania and back! Our founding member, John Wood, has done just that in the last two weeks. His journey started in Stanley, Tasmania. This area is most commonly known for housing the first Trans Bass Strait Cable connecting Tasmania to mainland Australia in 1933.
Why do we import from Tasmania?
To help keep up with demand on specific cuts that would be constantly out of stock without this wonderful resource. There are specific cuts that the animal only produces a certain amount of (think flank steaks, hangers and skirts to name a few). Instead of continuously being out of those items, we source some in from Tasmania as fellow US producers here are unable to meet the demand of these scarce yield cuts. Tasmania is a utopia for beef production with a perfect year round climate for grass growth and animal performance.
The small band of grass-fed producers in the Northwest District of Tasmania have taken a perfect livestock climate and molded in an excellent forage base adapted to the climate. They harvest with cattle genetics designed to produce well marbled beef on grass. The passion and pride exhibited at the carcass show competition on January 10 was most impressive. These families have been working diligently, with the encouragement of the local processor, since 1998 to produce a premium marbled product that has outstanding eating qualities.
Pictured above (left to right): John Bruce a 30 year producer, Johnny Wood, John Wood founding member of US Wellness Meats, Paul Seward a long time producer, Richard Nichols a long time producer, Jamie Oliver an enthusiastic young producer, Trevor Fleming meat salesman at Greenham
Because more and more people are discovering the health benefits of grass-fed beef the market is growing rapidly. To keep up with this demand we added this group of elite grass farmers from Tasmania. All products sourced from Tasmania are listed as such on the website.
The picturesque island of Tasmania is the ideal place for grazing cattle as the temperate climate allows for grazing year round. No hormones or GMOs are even allowed on the island. Air quality is recognized as the gold standard for purity on the globe. Tasmania is slightly larger than the state of West Virginia and is covered by some of the finest grass in the world. The cattle raised in Tasmania are 100% grass-fed and grass-finished just like the cattle raised at our farms in the Midwest. From the moment our animals are weaned from their mothers, they consume high quality forage for the rest of their lives. Raising the cattle on strictly grass ensures high levels of CLA, Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamins A and E. To learn even more benefits of grass-fed beef, visit us on YouTube to watch “The Grass-Fed Difference” video.
For more pictures from Tasmania, please visit us on Facebook! For any questions, please feel free to leave a comment on our blog.
September 2010 marks the 10th anniversary for US Wellness Meats! It's been quite the ride and we've enjoyed talking to and meeting our customers over the years! In that time the knowledge and popularity of sustainable, grass-fed meat has grown substantially. As a thank you to all of our great customers we're having specials and giveaways all month! If you're not already signed up for the newsletter, be sure to do that right away so you don't miss out!
Our first giveaway is a package of our 10 favorite products for our 10th anniversary! The package includes:
- Colby Cheese - Jen's favorite (Sales)
- Braunschweiger - Lee Ann's favorite (Accounting)
- Delmonico Steak - John L's favorite (Founding Farmer)
- Pre-Cooked Pot Roast - Deric's favorite (Packing Manager)
- Shredded BBQ Beef - Kenneth's favorite (Founding Farmer)
- Butter - Tressa's favorite (Customer Service)
- BBQ Short Ribs - John W's favorite (Founding Farmer)
- Mystic Mountain Trail Mix - Jen's other favorite (Sales)
- Italian Beef Sausage - Jim's favorite (Founding Farmer)
- Salami - Megan's favorite (Marketing)
Now that's a great package of grass-fed goodness! Do you want it? If so, post a comment below. You can say anything...what you like about grass-fed products, how they've changed your life, share your favorite product...anything! The winner will be randomly chosen on Friday, September 3rd, so the comment cutoff is midnight CST on September 2nd, 2010. The winner will be announced in the newsletter on Sunday, September 5th. Also in that newsletter will be the announcement for the next giveaway.
The prize can only be shipped within the United States and Puerto Rico (Alaska and Hawaii included!).
Don't forget that the whole month of September is packed full of giveaways. It'll be something different every week!
Thank you for being a vital part of growing our family business!
Update: Dina T. from Texas was chosen (via random.org) as the winner of our favorite products giveaway! Congratulations! Thanks to everyone for leaving such wonderful comments! Here's Dina's comment: "I teach high school biology and we read "The Omnivore's Dilemma" as a part of our curriculum. My favorite part of the year is most definitely when a student comes to tell me that they asked their mom to buy grass-fed beef, and then tell all of the other students how much better it actually tastes. Good stuff!"
Thanks, Dina! We hope you enjoy your winnings!
Also, you can still receive Shane Ellison's ebook by clicking here. It's free to everyone but you have to have this link!
One more thing...we have three more specials/giveaways planned for the month of September! The next one will be emailed to our email newsletter subscribers only!