How to buy seafood at the supermarket


Three things are absolutely clear when it comes to seafood: Local, domestic and sustainable are best. But that doesn't mean you have to seek out a fish market on the coast to find quality seafood. "Armed with an understanding of how seafood products end up on your local grocery store shelves, you’ll be able to choose environmentally sustainable seafood products anywhere, confidently," Sustainable Fisheries reports.

The three most important things to know are:

  1. The country of origin can tell you if the fish population it comes from is appropriately managed.
  2. A certification label that tells you if a team of scientists and experts has assessed the product’s origin and examined its supply chain.
  3. The seafood sourcing system of your favorite grocery store.  

Country of origin

United States law requires food retailers to tell customers the origins of seafood. "The simplest way to make sure that the seafood you buy is sustainable is to look for seafood with “USA” as the country of origin. Generally, if it’s caught or farmed in the U.S., you can have a much higher level of confidence that the product is environmentally sustainable," Sustainable Fisheries says. That's because the United States has robust fishery management laws guided by the best available science and designed to maintain and/or rebuild commercially harvested species. Rules prevent and penalize overfishing. 

Certification label

"Ratings and certifications can be tricky to understand and use correctly — they may require information not available at the seafood counter or on the packaging of a seafood product—however, when you can get the information you need, they can provide the most straightforward understanding of a seafood product’s environmental sustainability," Sustainable Fisheries reports.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program rates seafood sources from all over the world, both wild and farmed, but emphasizes those most relevant to the U.S. market. Other ratings systems are the Marine Stewardship Council, Aquaculture Stewardship Council and Best Aquaculture Practices.

Your supermarket's seafood sourcing policy

Most large U.S. supermarkets like Wal-Mart, Kroger and Costco have publicly available seafood sourcing policies that you can find at their websites, according to Sustainable Fisheries. Read through the policies to find out exactly what products the seafood sourcing policy covers; how the company defines "environmentally sustainable; and how companies verify sustainability claims.

Read the full story

Sustainable Fisheries' article on how to buy sustainable seafood at the grocery store is loaded with more tips and vital information. Read the full story at

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