Supermarkets may be convenient, but as we’ve previously discussed, they aren’t the best place to shop for meat. And for many of the same reasons, we suggest you don’t purchase your seafood there, either. Instead, buy it from a reputable fishmonger, if possible.
Visit your local fish market and compare that experience to what you find at the nearest megamart — the differences should be obvious. We’re not talking about supermarkets like Whole Foods or independent retailers with full seafood counters; those are usually just as reputable as a fish market. We’re talking about supermarkets where all the meat and seafood are on Styrofoam trays wrapped in cellophane, labeled with as few details as legally required. You’re left completely to your own devices as to which fish to purchase, and even though the fish may look fresh, there’s a lot more going on below the surface.
We understand if you have no other option than to buy your fish at the supermarket; not everyone lives a short distance from a full-on fish market with knowledgeable fishmongers at the ready. If you must buy your fish at the supermarket, we urge you to follow these pieces of advice: Buy it frozen (but avoid anything with freezer burn or frost), and buy American. Make sure it has a nice color and isn’t drying out. Look for certification labels, like Marine Stewardship Council-certified.
The best consumer is an educated one, and when it comes to seafood, it pays to be educated. Do some research into the fish you’re buying, and instead of making decisions based on the lesser of the grocery store evils, make your decisions based on what’s sustainable, how it’s caught or farmed, where it’s from, and how fresh it is. (This article from the Environmental Defense Fund is a great guide.)
Skip the grocery store, if possible, and buy your seafood from someone who really cares.