Considering the global food crisis and the declining state of marine health, this unsustainable equation seems crazy, but it's true. And what's more, the process is decimating a food supply that other species rely on for their own survival.
A recent editorial in the New York Times writes, "It’s as if humans were swimming in schools in the ocean out-eating every other species."
A new report by the University of British Columbia and the Pew Charitable Trusts recommends that humans eat these small (and very healthy) fish instead of using them as feed for other animals bred for human consumption.
The nine-year study should give fish eaters a good reason to reconsider these often overlooked fish. Sardines are rich in iron and omega-3 fatty acids, which seem to lower blood cholesterol levels and slow the progression of mild Alzheimer's Disease. A report in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that sardines can also help reduce the chance of developing kidney cancer.
A Pew press release writes that the report "finds that one-third of the world's marine fish catches are ground up and fed to farm-raised fish, pigs, and poultry, squandering a precious food resource for humans and disregarding the serious overfishing crisis in our oceans."
- The Protein Pyramid (New York Times, November 10, 2008)
- A Third of the World's Marine Fish Catches are Used for Animal Feed (Pew Charitable Trusts, October 29, 2008)
- Annual Review of Environment and Resources (Volume 33, 2008)
- Nutrition Facts and Analysis - Sardines (NutritionData.com)
- Nutrition Facts and Analysis - Anchovies (NutritionData.com)
- Download the Environmental Defense Fund's "Pocket Eco-Friendly Fish Selector" to make choices that help prevent overfishing
- Sign the Pew Environment Group petition urging the US National Marine Fisheries Service to stop overfishing
- Make these sardine recipes (Epicurious.com)