Hiller’s Market: Most Sustainable Fish in Ann Arbor?

I almost never look at circulars, but this week I happened to flip through the pages of coupons that came in the mail this weekend. I found an ad for Hiller’s Market, and the fish section caught my eye. Every fish on the page was clearly labeled with specific type of fish and country of origin. No “Fresh salmon, $6.99/lb” here – no, instead they list “Wild caught Alaskan Red Sockeye Salmon Filets, $8.99/lb.”

Comparing these to Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, we find the following:

  • Wild Caught US Shrimp: Good or Best Choice – unable to tell the species from the ad.
  • Wild Caught Alaskan King Crab: Good Choice (Imported should be avoided.)
  • Wild Caught Alaskan (Pacific) Cod: Good or Best choice, depending on how it was caught. (Avoid Atlantic Cod.)
  • US Farm Raised Catfish: Best Choice
  • Wild Caught Alaskan Red Sockeye Salmon: Best Choice (Don’t buy from the continental Pacific Northwest this year – the fisheries have collapsed.)
  • Maine mussels: Best Choice
  • US Farm Raised Tilapia: Best Choice
  • Chilean Farm Raised Steelhead Trout: Blue Ocean Institute says Steelhead are generally questionable but doesn’t say anything about Chilean farm raised fish specifically.
  • US Wild Caught Ahi Yellowfin Tuna: Good or Best Choice, depending of fishing method (but watch out for the mercury.)

So an amazing number of great seafood choices are available at Hiller’s, including some choices that thread the difficult needle of certain fish being a good choice only when caught in specific locations or in specific ways. For example, almost all imported seafood is suspect, but US versions are OK; some farm-raised fish is a Best Choice (catfish, trout) and some is to be avoided (salmon – this includes anything labeled “Atlantic salmon”). And doubly amazing that the sale fish are such good ones – often what’s on sale is the cheapest SE Asian eco-disaster fish imaginable.

Granted, all of these fish are shipped in from far-away places (even Alaska requires a lot of “food miles”) – but if you’ve got a yen for fish, you might as well do it right, right?

Verdict? Nice job, Hiller’s. I’m really impressed.

p.s. If you want to do some sleuthing on your own, here are my favorite resources:

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1 Comment

  1. queenlizzle said,

    May 7, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    I don’t know if this relates at all, but in What To Eat by Marion Nestle she purchased all sorts of fish from Whole Foods and other sources in NYC. Some were labeled wild and some were labeled farmed. She found that of those labeled “wild” many (actually most) of them in fact were not wild. She attributed this to a couple things – first, that the seller might just be lying. But more disturbingly, and the other explanation is that there are likely a number of farmed fish that escape from the farm through holes in nets or whatever and when they are wild caught, you still end up with a farmed (or half farmed) fish, although it has been labeled and sold as wild. Kinda scary.


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