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Networking: Kate Geagan, MS, RD

America's Green Nutritionist™, Park City, Utah

By James Wright
April 01, 2010

QUOTE: The texture of a flaky fish pulled apart and deboned is very easy for little mouths and helps [children] set their palate.

Kate Geagan is well suited for current times, not only because proper nutrition advice is always in demand, but also because consumers are becoming more environmentally responsible about their lifestyle choices, especially concerning their diets. Geagan literally wrote the book on sustainable eating, titled "Go Green Get Lean: Trim Your Waistline with the Ultimate Low-Carbon Footprint Diet" (Rodale, 2009).

Geagan, whose clientele includes the Norwegian Seafood Export Council, says seafood is health food for people 
of all ages - even toddlers. Both of Geagan's young children started eating seafood at an early age.

JW: What seafoods are "super" foods, nutritionally or environmentally?

KG: Sardines, herring and [herbivorous] species like barramundi. These fish are lean and green super foods because they have the nutritional aspects that health professionals want. They're rich in omega-3 fats, but they don't have [polychlorinated biphenyls] or mercury-contamination issues - and they're on the best-choices lists. The fish that have those intersections are the best choices, but there's so little about seafood that is simple.

What do you tell people confused about farmed versus wild salmon?

There's no simple sound byte for salmon; it's the most confusing fish there is for the consumer. Not all farmed fish are equal, and not all countries have the same standards, so we can't lump all farmed salmon into one category, because that's not how the science is playing out. Because the fish are carnivores, their health profile is only as good as their diet. I don't like to categorically say, "don't eat farmed fish." I think one of the next big trends we'll see is farmed salmon, as a category, becoming origin-specific.

What seafood do you urge people to eat?

I encourage fish consumption a couple of times a week and I encourage [eating] a variety of fish. Instead of always [choosing] salmon, try barramundi, catfish or tilapia. You can cut out so much saturated fat that's in a meat-based dinner. The health benefits of a diet rich in seafood are clear.

Why do people shy away from seafood?

I think people are scared of cooking it and think it's a luxury item to be eaten at a restaurant. Maybe they have not found a great fishmonger or they haven't ventured far enough in the fish counter. Seafood is not part of our cultural norm, like steak and potatoes are. When standing at the seafood counter making a decision, a lot of people struggle with what to do with [seafood]. "What do we do with leftovers?" they ask. Some culinary skills and [product] familiarity are needed.

How can you become a "green" seafood consumer?

Become a card carrier and learn what the best choices are. I like the [Seafood Watch] iPhone app; it adjusts for wherever you are in the country. Choosing only green-lighted seafood is the biggest no-brainer. Second is eating plant-eating fish. Focus on the food chain, even in the ocean. Farmed fish that eat plants consume fewer resources. Clams, mussels, oysters and scallops are lower on the food chain and more sustainable for common consumption.

As a mother of two, when did you introduce your kids to seafood?

They were both 1. We make it a mainstay at our house and also when we go out to eat. Don't think kids will only eat fish sticks; there's a lot of other things out there. I think fish can be a food for the high chair. Most parents don't introduce kids to seafood until they're much older. But the texture of a flaky fish pulled apart and deboned is very easy for little mouths and helps them set their palate.

 

 

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