Seafood buying tips

Shopping suggestions and a fish-season calendar for the next time you head to the seafood counter

Best time to buy: A seafood calendar


Make it Western Why? Because our fisheries meet ecological standards that are the highest in the world.

Eat a variety of fish Say you love salmon ― lots of us do. Trouble is, when millions of people eat it, it could potentially go the way of the dodo. So mix it up.

Buy in season Yes, seafood has seasons; that's when it's cheapest and easiest to find fresh in stores (see “Best Time to Buy,” left).  


Bycatch Unintended catching of any sea life while fishing for another.

Farmed Fish or shellfish raised by humans. "Aquaculture" is a synonym for fish farming.

Fishery The organized catch of a particular fish in a given area.

Fishing methods It can be hard to get info on how a fish was caught, but seek out pole- or troll-caught fish, which have the least impact on the ocean and other species. Avoid trawlnet.

Omega-3s Healthy fatty acids, found abundantly in seafood.

PCBs and Mercury Harmful by-products of industry found in some fish. Short-lived fish accumulate lower levels of toxins.


Although much of the salmon we eat in the United States is farmed ― up to 90 percent by some estimates ― the best choice is wild Alaska salmon. Farmed salmon may be cheaper ($8, vs. $24 per pound for Alaska chinook), but can have troubling levels of PCBs ― the Environmental Defense Fund advises adults to limit their intake to one serving a month. Also, some salmon-farming practices pollute the environment and endanger wild fish (when farmed fish escape, they may pass along diseases and parasites). Some salmon farms are improving their practices, but for now we think wild is the best choice.

More:  Buyer's guide to sustainable, fresh fish

1 of 1

Most Popular

  1. 10 ways to redecorate with paint

    Jump-start your decorating ideas with budget-friendly options for accent walls and accessories
  2. 10 raised bed garden ideas
  3. 53 favorite backyard projects
  4. 20 favorite perennial flowers
  5. 24 Best Places to Live and Work 2014