Important Disclaimer: Although there are organizations like the MSC (marine stewardship council) that suggest certain seafood choices are sustainable with an abundant supply, I don’t believe ANY seafood or meat can be completely sustainable, because there are just too many people eating it! Restraint is always needed; US tuna should not be taken for granted and shouldn’t be over-consumed even though it’s a much healthier choice than imported tuna.
Americans consume approximately 3 lbs of tuna per year. Canned tuna is a billion dollar business, but it remains a confusing food for consumers to purchase.
Most tuna from large commercial brands contain mercury, plus the way these companies catch tuna is deplorable! For skipjack and yellowfin, they use a large net to catch massive amounts of tuna. For albacore tuna, the most used method is a longline. Problem is, other fish like shark, dolphins, & rays plus sea animals like turtles can also be caught using both these methods, and because the fishermen only want tuna, the unwanted fish are thrown (dead or wounded) back into the ocean.
Sustainability conscience companies use the troll and/or poll & line methods. The first method, trolling is a useful way to ensure that younger smaller tuna fish are caught, which are much lower in mercury.
There are only a handful of companies that offer tuna caught in the US. I like the idea of eating US caught tuna. I cringe when I read the label on the can and see “product of Indonesia” or Thailand, or China. Even companies like 365 from Whole Foods don’t offer tuna from the US. I assume the main reason is the expense. Consumers don’t want to pay a premium for premium products!
A can of tuna from Starkist or Chicken of the Sea is under $2 (sometimes under $1), but a can of higher quality USA tuna is $4-$5. Yeah, that’s a big difference! Americans have become so used to cheap food, but they don’t bother to think about the reason as to WHY it’s so cheap. The old saying “You get what you pay for” should apply to our food as well!
Buying American caught tuna is supporting the US, and you’re getting a much higher quality product (lower in mercury, higher in Omega 3 fatty acids). The quality of the tuna can’t be compared. The texture and taste is similar to eating freshly cooked tuna. It does require a little time to get used to the taste of higher quality tuna, as our nation’s taste buds are dulled by the taste (or lack there of) of main-stream commercial brands of canned tuna. But once you learn to appreciate it, it’s so much better. I think it’s worth the extra money.
Another positive aspect of purchasing a higher quality canned tuna is that it’s packed in the tuna’s natural juices, not in water or oil; there is no need to drain the can first. So, what you are paying for is TUNA, not canning liquid like the more popular brands; canning in natural juices also allow for a higher amount of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids to be retained.
Recommended Tuna Brands