When searching for the healthiest, most environmentally friendly fish to offer our customers, Door to Door Organics considered many factors, including the type of fish, how it was raised and caught, and its ecosystem. It’s just not as simple as choosing between wild and farmed seafood. With salmon, for example, wild-caught is the best choice because farmed salmon, which is labeled as Atlantic salmon, contains high levels of toxic pollutants, recommends the Environmental Defense Fund. But the EDF finds that wild salmon from Alaska are low in contaminants, which is exactly why we partnered with Kaleb Walker from Kaleb’s Katch, a Colorado fisherman who fishes Alaska’s waters to provide us with salmon and halibut that’s certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council.
When we started looking at offering tilapia, research revealed that tilapia farmed in the U.S. is the way to go, according to scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, who advise consumers on making the healthiest choices for themselves and the oceans. When raised in a sustainable, eco-friendly closed recirculating system, the wastewater from these bottom-feeding fish is treated so it doesn’t contaminate the tilapia or neighboring ecosystems.
Our search for the freshest tilapia led us to Quixotic Farming in Cañon City, Colorado, where they walk the environmental sustainability talk, recirculating and filtering all the water from the ponds to keep the H2O clean and the fish healthy. The nutrient-rich water that is flushed out flows into the farm’s crop beds to feed plants. The fish are fed a certified-organic diet that contains no animal byproducts, hormones, antibiotics, or other chemicals. The farm is inspected and certified sustainable by the Institute of Marketecology and follows the standards set by Organic Land Management.
Fishmonger Eric Ely explained to us that his father-in-law, Randy Constant, and business partner, Jon Burton, built Quixotic Farming with a vision of raising fish humanely where they could swim freely without any chemicals and pollutants. And Quixotic seems to live up to its name that Eric explains means “something so unbelievably amazing and ideal that it’s unimaginable. We believe in this vision for the health of the fish and your health.” By keeping the water clean, Quixotic’s fish are happy, healthy, and taste better, too. “A stressed-out fish does not taste good and may not be good for us,” says Eric, who adds that stressed animals do not grow properly and also produce fight-or-flight hormones they pass on to us. “The fish are here to feed us, so we want to respect them for that.”
As I continue chatting with Eric, I learn the fish I’m used to eating doesn’t even taste like fish. It has a muddy, “fishy” taste from being raised overseas in dirty water without proper circulation. This is the fish we’re all used to eating because less than 5% of tilapia sold in the U.S. is raised here. While this is blowing my mind, Quixotic’s high standards are simply blowing the overseas competition out of the water (so to speak).
Now you can taste the difference raising fish in a chemical-free, humane environment makes. Without the “fishy” taste, maybe it’s even time to get the kiddos to give fish another try? I’m looking forward to making these fish tacos with Quixotic’s tilapia fillets or even their tequila-lime-seasoned fillets so I can get this on the table even faster. If you’re now daydreaming of grilling some tilapia soon, then use the coupon code “localtilapia” to save $1 from now until June 6, 2013. Share any ideas for cooking tilapia below, and enjoy!