Shopping for sustainable seafood can feel confusing. But it doesn't have to be! Here's what you need to know now about sourcing sustainable seafood (like your favorite wild caught salmon), as well as my top 3 budget-friendly sustainable seafood delivery services.
Did you know that overfishing is one of the greatest ongoing risks to our oceans? The high demand for many of our favorite seafood meals has led to overfishing the top 10 species, the adoption of harmful fishing methods, as well as ruining a number of aquatic habitats.
Sadly, even animals that sit further up the food chain are feeling the negative impacts of overfishing. And while overfishing is undeniably bad, seafood that's sustainably caught is a great alternative protein for those that are looking to reduce their red meat consumption (or simply love enjoying seafood).
In fact, NOAA Fisheries claims that “sustainable seafood is the most environmentally efficient source of protein on the planet.” With this in mind, it's more important than ever to do our part in supporting this industry and choose to purchase sustainable seafood whenever and wherever possible.
Luckily, there are a couple of easy ways to arm yourself with the knowledge you need to make great purchasing decisions that benefit both your family and the environment.
Here's how to make shopping for sustainable seafood really simple.
This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. For more info, please read my disclosure here.
What is sustainable seafood?
This is such an important question. Many consumers think that the term ‘sustainable seafood' means that the seafood is wild caught. This is just another unfortunate example of unclear labeling practices in the food industry. Here's Ocean Wise's definition of the term:
“Sustainable seafood can be defined as species that are caught or farmed in a way that ensures the long-term health and stability of that species, as well as the greater marine ecosystem.”
In other words, sustainability has nothing to do with where your seafood is caught and everything to do with its long-term environmental impact. On the other hand, ‘wild caught' means that your seafood was fished from its natural habitat.
Bottom line: if you want sustainable wild caught seafood you'll need to look for products with both of these labels.
Wild Caught vs Farm Raised Salmon
Generally speaking, wild fish are a healthier choice in a number of key ways when compared to their farm-raised counterparts. That said, wild caught and farm-raised fish both play an essential part in ensuring the long-term sustainability of seafood supplies.
But when it comes to choosing your salmon, I recommend choosing wild caught. The reason is simple: these two types of salmon are not created equally.
And I'm not alone in this recommendation. Seafood Watch also recommends that you pass on farm-raised salmon unless it meets very strict farming conditions.
Here are a couple of visual cues you can use to help tell the difference between farmed and wild salmon when you're out shopping:
|Color||Soft pink-orange||Typically more vibrant than farm-raised|
|Tail fin||Smaller, often ragged (from getting nipped by other fish in their pen)||Fan-shaped|
Of course, your best bet is to always shop at a grocer or fishmonger that you trust to correctly label their fish. Check out Seafood Watch's salmon recommendations to learn more about your best choices for purchasing sustainable salmon.
How to Buy Sustainable Seafood
It's also important to note that, in some cases, farm raised seafood might actually be more sustainable than its wild caught counterpart. Some perfect examples of this are with mussels, scallops, oysters, and clams. It's cases like these that make shopping for sustainable seafood so difficult.
Even if you're armed with the right knowledge, sourcing sustainable seafood options can still be confusing. Luckily, there are a handful of helpful tools you can use to guide your shopping.
For example, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has built the Seafood Watch App to help you as you dine out or shop in a grocery store. Available on both iOS and Android, the app guides you through your best choices and good alternatives, as well as fish to avoid. Most importantly, the information they provide helps you ask the right questions when you're unsure about the labels you're seeing.
The Ocean Wise online guide is another great resource if you want to do more reading on sustainable seafood sources. And their certification seal is a good symbol to look for when you're shopping for ocean-friendly products.
Here are my top 3 tips for buying sustainable seafood:
- Try a wide variety of seafood. Shopping beyond the top 10 seafood list helps ease overall demand for more popular species.
- Ask for sustainable options. It's important that our local grocers know that we're looking for sustainable seafood. By asking, we're indicating that this is a value that they should consider during sourcing decisions.
- Shop for sustainable seafood online. This is my favorite time-saving tip. I'm able to easily get the items I want when I shop with online delivery services that prioritize sustainable seafood.
Where to Buy Sustainable Seafood (Including Wild Salmon) Online
Here are my top three choices for purchasing sustainable seafood and wild caught salmon online. What could be more easy and convenient than having your food shipped right to your doorstep!
My Thrive Market membership has helped me save over $1000 on keto and paleo foods, so I really love that now I can add paleo and keto-friendly boxes of flash-frozen sustainable seafood to my monthly orders. One less thing to think about – I love when grocery shopping is easy!
The Thrive Market sustainable seafood boxes are my top choice because they offer a variety of boxes that perfectly suit my tastes and dietary needs. I can safely enjoy every item that's packed in my box! And I feel good knowing that all of their seafood sources are accredited by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch and the Marine Stewardship Council.
My personal favorite? The Wild & Sustainable Box. It's perfect no matter whether you're keto or paleo! And I love the variety – shrimp, scallops, barramundi, cod, and salmon all in one box!
Want to give Thrive Market a try (and save big on your next grocery bill)? Use this link for an extra 25% off your first order.
Vital Choice is a Seafood Watch partner. So you know you'll always be receiving sustainable products. Their seafood is flash-frozen, so your order is the next best option to eating right on the boat! It's so convenient to be able to add your items directly from your shipment box to the freezer.
Right now, Vital Choice has a Limited Edition Keto Seafood Box containing items that are paleo-keto friendly. You'll receive wild Pacific king salmon, wild Alaskan cod, albacore tuna medallions, an ahi tuna poke kit, and Alaskan sockeye nova lox.
Vital Choice also offers a couple of different recurring subscription boxes that basically put your grocery shopping on autopilot. It's important to note that while all the plain fish and seafood are paleo, you'll need to be sure to check your ingredients on items like the salmon dogs because they may not be paleo-friendly.
Want to give Vital Choice a try? Save 10% by using code: VCAFINT at checkout.
It's no secret that I'm a fan of ButcherBox's meat subscription boxes. They're so convenient and all of their meats are healthy and sustainable. ButcherBox is the online delivery service option for you if you love wild caught salmon, but typically stick with beef, pork, and chicken dinners.
While the ButcherBox wild Alaskan sockeye salmon is absolutely delicious, it's the only fish they offer at the moment. So you'll still need to shop one of the other seafood suppliers if you're looking for other types of sustainable fish and seafood.
Want to give ButcherBox a try? Use this link for free bacon (yum!) plus $15 off your first purchase.
Seafood and Salmon Recipes
Now that you're set with your sustainable seafood, all you need to do is start bookmarking recipes for your meal planning!
If you're looking for salmon recipes, try these:
- 20 Quick and Easy Salmon Recipes that are Paleo
- Easy Baked Salmon with Roasted Asparagus (Paleo, Keto, Whole30)
And if you're looking for shrimp recipes, try these: