Omnivore - Why are you eating that tilapia?

Low in healthful fish oils, tilapia is factory-farmed


I've mentioned pretty frequently that I don't like tilapia. To my taste, it's the tofu of the animal world, not much better than a sop for other flavors. In fact, I like its texture less than tofu. It reminds me of the mysterious white stuff in the "fish sticks" I ate every Friday in school cafeterias.

I remember when food suppliers began aggressively marketing tilapia. A friend reported going to a trade show at the time and hearing someone promote the fish as if it were a sideshow freak. "No fish has the shelf life of tilapia!" a supplier told him. "It's truly the wonder fish."

I don't dispute that the fish is an excellent source of protein and that its low cost makes it an efficient addition to diets. It's called "aquatic chicken," co-opting the rep of the canned tuna known as Chicken of the Sea.

It turns out that tilapia is not as healthy as we've thought — not for consumers and not for the environment. The New York Times recently published an article titled "Another Side of Tilapia, the Perfect Factory Fish" that describes the fish's reality.

There's this:

Compared with other fish, farmed tilapia contains relatively small amounts of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, the fish oils that are the main reasons doctors recommend eating fish frequently; salmon has more than 10 times the amount of tilapia. Also, farmed tilapia contains a less healthful mix of fatty acids because the fish are fed corn and soy instead of lake plants and algae, the diet of wild tilapia.