National Seafood Month is the perfect time to highlight the importance of consuming sustainable seafood and dive into some great seafood deals at your local market.

According to the U.S. federal agency, NOAA, seafood sustainability means "catching or farming seafood responsibly, with consideration for the long-tem health of the environment and the livelihoods of the people that depend upon the environment".

With increasing seafood sales, the introduction of the USDA's 'My Plate'  and their recommendation to choose seafood at least twice a week; consumers are beginning to shift their purchasing decisions to not only eat more seafood, but purchase sustainable products. NOAA's data shows that the U.S. seafood market is now the second largest in the world with an overall volume of 4.56 billion pounds in 2011.

Today, shoppers are presented with information rating seafood on; environmental, biological, catch or production practices and health concerns. This information is portrayed through advertising during national events, seafood guides, and the increasing display of eco-labels in seafood cases. Making purchasing decisions can be challenging - but it doesn't have to be!

So, next time you visit the seafood counter at your local market, don't overwhelm yourself by looking at the various labels displayed. These seafood-purchasing tips will guide you to make the best purchasing choice available!

What to Look And Ask For At The Seafood Counter

1 - Ready yourself for visiting the seafood counter. If you have a species in mind, look up its rating by using seafood guides that can be accessed from mobile devices or the web. Seafood guides can be found in both consumer-friendly and scientific formats. They outline sustainability, environmental impacts and health concerns based on mercury contamination. Online guides are recommended because they are constantly revised with the most updated ranking for each species.

2 - When at the seafood counter, ask for the product's country of origin. Some fisheries and aquaculture operations throughout the world cannot afford the large monetary and time investment associated with engaging in sustainable practices.

 3 - Ask if the product is farmed or wild caught and ask about the freshness of the product - not all 'fresh-looking' product is indeed fresh (and may have been treated with CO to mask freshness or been previously frozen).

4 - Pay close attention to eco-labels on products as these are a "seal of approval" meant to promote environmentally friendly fisheries and aquaculture operations. Eco-labels are awarded to operations considered sustainable by third-party certification bodies. Another essential element of eco-labels is chain of custody, which is the chronological documentation that guarantees the product carrying the eco-label, actually came from the certified farm or fishery.

So, what are you waiting for? Make the shift to purchasing sustainable products like one of our seafood offerings and have confidence when stepping up to the seafood counter at your local market!

The start of autumn may not typically trigger thoughts of seafood, but there's good reason it should -- October is National Seafood Month!

Hot or cold outside, seafood is in.

Why? In case you don't know or need a reminder, eating seafood as part of weekly diet has health benefits across the life-cycle. Here are the known compelling reasons for eating seafood:

1. Help with healthy brain development of infants and children.

2. Maintaining good heart and cardiovascular health -- The cholesterol question was answered more than a decade ago, and it appears that not only fish but shellfish, such as shrimp, improves heart health.

3. Weight Control --  The combination of lean protein with a lack of saturated and trans-fat but containing good fat is to credit for helping with weight control.

4. Anti-aging -- Omega-3's and antioxidants are at play to prevent memory loss as we age. There is also reason to believe seafood helps us look younger longer and that fish oils may even prevent muscle loss associated with aging.

Scientific studies have attributed most of these health benefits to the "good" omega-3 fats found in seafood, but it goes beyond that. Seafood offers a variety of vitamins and minerals, including selenium, which is one mineral that acts as an antioxidant, helping the body rid itself of damaging free radicals that can age our cells and cause disease, including cancer and heart disease. As for the best anti-aging and anti-cancer seafood, shrimp and salmon are the best choice. The pink color in both comes from a compound called astaxanthin, a carotenid phytochemical (plant nutrient) and antioxidant known for its powerful free radical scavenging effects.Shrimp and salmon get this plant nutrient from eating specific algae that naturally contain it. The benefits are passed to the shrimp and salmon and other seafood that eat the specific pink or red algae, much the same way that salmon get their omega-3 fatty acids from eating krill.

In other words, seafood can help you look and feel great.

When? The 2010 Dietary Guidelines from Americans calls for Americans to eat at least two servings of seafood per week and for the general population to increase amount and variety of seafood consumed. This means now is the perfect time to add seafood to your weekly meals repertoire and party menus.

How? As for socializing this fall, from tailgating and game nights to Halloween and Thanksgiving get togethers, think seafood. For small or large groups, cook up a savory seafood cioppino (seafood stew), or simply set out some shrimp cocktail. If you're heading to an outdoor tailgate party, pack up some "peel & eat" seasoned shrimp or grilled shrimp with dipping sauce. For daily meals as well as special occasions, there is a great variety of fresh seafood to be found in supermarkets everywhere. The fresh seafood offerings have expanded nationwide due to improved farming methods (responsible aquaculture) creating abundant, healthy and sustainable supplies of fresh seafood. For nutritional comparisons, more information can be found on the National Fisheries Institute website at

If you're looking for a simple, healthy everyday recipe, try the featured recipe below. It's a quick and colorful (=vitamin-rich) way to enjoy shrimp any time of year!

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