Go FISH! – At The Co-op

Go FISH! – At The Co-op

by: Kristin Evenrud, Meat Buyer

I have made a commitment to my family and to you, the consumer, when buying meat and fish for the Oneota Community Co-op.  “I will not knowingly buy meat or fish that is raised in confinement, given antibiotics throughout its lifespan, given growth hormones, been treated inhumanely, and/or been harvested in a manner that is not sustainable.”  I take this commitment seriously as I feel it is important to offer choices to the consumer that are better for our bodies than the commercial products out there.

Eating fish is a healthy way to get healthy omega-3 fatty acids and lean proteins into your diet.  Knowing what kind of fish to eat is a trick – cheap farm raised fish or wild caught?  Here are some reasons why eating fish sustainably caught from our Great Lakes and oceans is the better option.

Let’s start with the problems with farm raised fish.

PCB Levels

The fishmeal fed to farm raised fish is full of PCB’s and mercury.  This is because they grind up smaller fish that have a high levels of PCB and mercury and feed it to the farmed fish.  Then when you eat the fish, the fat breaks down, releases PCB’s and mercury into your system and your body stores the PCB in your fat.


Fish raised in confinement are given antibiotics, just like the cattle on a CAFO.  This means that potentially sick fish make it to market because they were given the antibiotic and you, the consumer, think you are eating a healthy fish full of omega-3’s.

Food Colorings

Farmed raised salmon are fed food coloring to make their flesh look like their wild counterparts who get their coloring from the natural environment.

Fat Content

Once again, just like CAFOS, fish that are crammed into pens and not allowed free movement lead to a higher fat content in the meat.


Fish are injected with antibiotics and other drugs to fend off inevitable disease outbreaks.  Subsequently, their waste washes into waterways causing widespread pollution.

Malachite Green

A dye used to inhibit growth of fungi that grows on farmed fish.  This dye has been proven to cause tumors in laboratory rats

A “good” example of how farmed fish affects us directly is what happened in Chile last year.  In the past, most farm raised salmon came from Chile.  But, last year a devastating virus swept through the farms.  This meant thousands of workers were laid off, greatly affecting the local economy.   The major industrial players packed up shop and moved the farms farther up the coast to try again but have had similar issues in the new locations. Still today, the salmon are not well enough for export.  Millions of salmon have died in this epidemic, and it is not known when the farms will recover.  The effect is long reaching. It means that the salmon market has become tight and prices for wild caught have increased. In addition, the virus and sea lice issues from this outbreak are spreading into wild waters.  I buy salmon that is wild caught in Alaskan waters.

I will not buy fish that is sent to China to be processed because their history has proven to be unsafe due to artificial contaminants found in the fish, such as melamine and veterinary residues. Another reason is that many areas of China have little access to water from sewage treatment plants.  What that means is the water used for skinning and processing the fish is often not treated in China. Fish processed in Latin American countries are also subject to similar conditions.

It would be easy for me to buy cheap farm raised fish, it is readily available everywhere!  But the potential cost to your health and to my family’s health is not worth it.

Benefits of wild caught fish:

• Higher levels of omega-3’s and other  essential fatty acids
• Lower fat content
• Natural color
• Firmer and more flavorful flesh
• Sustainable (I also watch to see which fish are not being over-fished or being taken by drag nets)
• Non-Polluting
• Often supports smaller family-owned fisheries (This is the case with the salmon we have here at the Co-op, I get it from two families fishing on their own boats).

For more information, check out these resources:



PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) are highly toxic industrial compounds. They pose serious health risks to fetuses, babies and children, who may suffer developmental and neurological problems from prolonged or repeated exposure to small amounts of PCBs. These chemicals are harmful to adults as well. Although they were banned from manufacture in the United States in 1977, PCBs are slow to break down and can persist in the environment at dangerous levels.


Breezy Bluff Farm is a family farm located in the scenic bluff country of southeast Minnesota 2 miles north of Spring Grove. Christian and Trisha Myrah raise 100% grass fed lamb. Their land has been certified organic since 2004. Their main flock of sheep have been bred to thrive in a grass-based farming system, and in turn produce superlative lamb for an outstanding dining experience. Grass fed lamb is lower in calories and cholesterol than grain fed lamb. Grass fed lamb has twice the amount of lutein as grain fed lamb. Lutein reduces the risk of macular degeneration and may also help prevent breast and colon cancer. Lamb provides 45% of the daily requirement of zinc, essential for growth, healing and a healthy immune system.

Holiday Ham

Our tasty ham this year is provided by Grass Run Farm.  It is certain to be the highlight of your Easter dinner. Find quarter and half hams in the fresh meat cooler this holiday season. Here are a few of the reasons to eat Grass Run Farm Ham:

• Antibiotic-free
• Free-Range happy hogs
• Processed without MSG, sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite
• Local

Italian Lamb Chops in Lemon Egg Sauce

In Italy, lamb is traditionally served with a lemon egg sauce for Easter.

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
salt and pepper
12 lamb chops
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves

In a pie plate, combine flour, salt and pepper; dredge the lamb chops in the flour mixture.

In a large heavy skillet, heat olive oil. Add the lamb chops and cook about 3 to 4 minutes; turn the lamb chops over and cook another minute on the other side or until and an internal temperature registers 125°F. (Use a meat thermometer to test for doneness). Transfer to a warm platter or individual serving plates; set aside.

In the same skillet over medium-high heat, add the wine; deglaze the pan by scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Add the chicken broth and continue cooking until liquid is reduced by 1/3.

In a small bowl, beat together the eggs, lemon juice, parsley. and marjoram. Season with salt and pepper. Turn heat to low and slowly add the egg mixture into the skillet, stirring constantly. The sauce should be thick and smooth. Remove from heat and pour sauce over the lamb chops to serve.

Makes 4 servings