Learning to Love Seafood (A True Story)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Steps leading down to the Atlantic ocean in ‘Sconset (Nantucket, Massachusetts)

Do you eat fish? Why not?

I am very lucky to have grown up in a fish-eating family on Long Island, New York, where seafood is fresh and plentiful. The situation is much the same here in Boston, Massachusetts (also on the Eastern seaboard of the United States). I simply revel in delights like oysters, lobster, mussels, and a wide variety of fishes, which round out my largely plant-based diet.

I truly adore seafood of all kinds, but I know not everyone feels the same way.

Indeed, I am consistently amazed by how many people I know who don’t eat seafood. Certainly some of it is circumstantial, depending on where you live, how you grew up, and so forth. Even so, seafood is widely available in today’s world and most Americans do not consume the amounts recommended for a healthy diet. There are certainly reasons beyond health why we eat what we do, and if you elect not to consume seafood for ethical reasons it is certainly possible to have a healthy diet without it. But if it’s just because you think you don’t like it, or didn’t grow up eating it, perhaps it’s time to reconsider your position.

For starters, seafood is a lean source of protein and many species are high in powerful omega-3 fatty acids, which are long chain highly unsaturated fats that are important for heart, brain, bone and eye health. Beyond health reasons, seafood is down-right delicious. While it’s important to keep an eye on what you’re eating and how much to protect our oceans and ensure there are fish for future consumption, it’s worth thinking about adding a moderate amount of seafood to your diet. To that end, In the coming weeks I’ll be posting a few delectable seafood dishes to inspire you. Yet, the greatest inspiration I can provide for you non-fish eaters out there is this: my husband did not grow up eating seafood and pretty much never ate it before he met me. After trying many of my dishes over a period of years, he began ordering it in restaurants instead of steak.

He now shoots oysters. (True story.)

The simple fact is that taste preferences are far more malleable than people think (remember the switch from whole to skim milk? or from white bread to whole grain?), even for adults. Repeated exposure is definitely the key—give yourself a chance to adapt—but having a few good dishes up your sleeve helps, too. I am therefore convinced that with the right dishes and the right fishes, you, too, can learn to like morsels from the sea.

And for those of you I don’t need to convince about the delights of eating seafood, perhaps you’ll find a new idea or two here on my blog for the upcoming Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve.

Or, you know, any day.

Think about it.

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Dr. P.K. Newby is a nutrition scientist, speaker, and author with expertise in all things food, farm to fork, whether preventing obesity and other chronic diseases through diet or teaching planet-conscious eating. As a health expert and food personality, she brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability to educate and inspire, helping people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Healthy Hedonism (TM) is her philosophy: Because healthy food shouldn’t suck.

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