WHAT IS TUNA?
This nomadic, saltwater fish favors warmer waters and is one of the larger predators of the sea. They range in length from 1 foot (0.3 m) up to 15 feet (4.6 m). Capable of weighing over 1,500 lbs (680 kg) and living for 50 years, they’re one of the few warm blooded fish species. And tuna are capable of swimming almost 50 m.p.h. (80 k.p.h.)! It’s a miracle that humans are eating tuna versus the other way around. One of the most popular fish at the center of your dinner plate, they boast a density of texture and flavor that stand out from most other seafood. Albacore, skipjack and yellowfin are the three most popular breeds raised for consumption.
WHERE DO TUNA COME FROM?
While they favor warmer waters around the equator, they range as far north as Europe and North America, and as far south as New Zealand. They are found in both fresh and saltwater depending on the stage in their life-cycle.
WHEN ARE TUNA IN SEASON?
June through November is the harvest season up north, and March to September down south of the equator. However the surge in fish farm has made them available year-round.
DO TUNA FISH FARMS PRACTICE CANNIBALISM?
So life in the ocean is older and much more evolved (competitive a.k.a. vicious) then with land-based creatures. When for example was the last time you saw one cow eat another cow alive? Never (with the exception of dairy farms that to save money reconstitute cattle carcasses into feed – a bad idea for both their health and yours). However in the sea fish will regularly eat other fish as a normal part of their day. And this includes fish identical to them, whether babies or smaller adults. The practice of feeding fish pellets in tuna farms has been flagged as a cause for concern. And the reality is that a varied diet for anything is both a healthy and less cost-effective option. So while fish farms have a number of practices that should worry you, where you buy and how much you pay for your feed is what creates the demand for better aquaculture practices.
IS TUNA HEALTHY TO EAT?
Canned tuna is one of the more affordable and least perishable options on supermarket shelves. They’re low in calories, fat (most of which is Omega 3 anyway) and rich in minerals (iron, potassium). Unfortunately being higher up on the food chain, they’re exposed to more heavy metals. Different sources say having 1 can every 1 to 2 weeks is acceptable. The logic here is that canned tuna uses smaller size fish. So the amount of mercury per ounce of canned tuna is less then in larger freshwater fish. But regardless, pregnant women and children should avoid eating all saltwater predators (shark, swordfish, orange roughy, etc), not just this one. And while canned tuna is relatively lower in mercury, it also has less Omega 3 fats than fresh tuna. Instead try other fish like salmon. They’re richer in healthy fats and have less heavy metal contamination as well.