For a couple of years now, Michelle Obama has been on a health kick. She’s followed the food czar ways of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in pushing schools to serve healthier lunches with more vegetables, fruit and fish.
Many schools that have implemented her menus have found that a large percentage of the kids are going hungry because they refuse to eat the healthier food and just throw it away. Some schools have also reported that the healthier menus are taxing their limited budgets as the recommended foods cost them more.
Schools in Maine have turned to serving fish at least two or more times a month as a healthy choice and to help out local fisherman. Commercial fishing is a huge business in Maine and many of their fisherman are having difficulty making a living these days.
The fish of choice is cod or haddock, but these species have been dwindling in numbers and the catch limits are being steadily reduced, bit by bit. Instead of the premium fish, fisherman have been catching more fish that are referred to by fisherman as ‘trash fish’ which are often heavily laden with mercury. Among the trash fish are redfish and Atlantic spiny dogfish.
Dogfish are a type of shark and being a top predator, they build up high amounts of mercury from eating other fish. They also compete with cod and feed on the cod, which is why Maine fishermen hate them. However, experts say that the Atlantic spiny dogfish exist in higher numbers now than ever before.
Herein lies the problem.
Fishermen have been finding a market for dogfish and other trash fish, but they sell for far less than cod and other premium fish, drastically reducing their overall income. In many cases, the dogfish are not labelled as dogfish. In the United Kingdom, dogfish is referred to as rock salmon and is being used by some companies for fish and chips. Dogfish is also referred to as small salmon or sea eel when sold in Germany and France.
But here in the US, dogfish and redfish are being sold under the government’s Section 32 program which in turn provides them the National School Lunch Program and other federal programs such as prisons and food kitchens. In most cases, they would be used for fish fillets, fish sticks, fish tacos and sometimes mixed in with some white fish species and served.
The mercury levels in redfish and dogfish have been found to be 0.5 parts per million and higher. It may not sound like much, but those levels are high enough to mandate warnings against eating the fish for pregnant women, women who may become pregnant and young children.
Methylmercury, the type of mercury contamination associated the most with fish can lead to a number of health problems for developing unborn children and small children. It has been linked to hindering proper brain development and can result in seizures, retardation, vision and hearing loss, memory loss, language disorders and delayed overall development in unborn and young children. In adults, high enough doses can cause impairment of a number of brain functions.
So how much is too much? The EPA action level, meaning enough to require warnings, is only 0.3 ppm. The 0.5 ppm of mercury found in test samples of dogfish not only exceeds the EPA action level, it’s 50 times higher than some seafood such as shrimp and clams.
The bottom line is that to comply with Michelle Obama’s health kick and to help local fisherman, Maine schools are already using mercury laden trash fish in the public schools. As a parent, ask yourself which you would prefer: having your kid eat a hamburger, or pizza or hotdog at school or being served mercury laden fish that if eaten often enough could cause irreparable brain damage?
Here’s another question that I could not find addressed. Is there any chance that these mercury laden trash fish are being used for commercial fish fillets, fish sticks or fish tacos anywhere else in the country? Do we have any idea of what fish is in the breaded fillets and sticks you buy at the grocery store? Is there any possibility that other states are serving mercury laden fish to public school students?
After seeing how many Americans are so stupid these days in voting for Obama and believing the mainstream media, I can’t help but wonder if mercury laden fish are far more common in stores, schools and restaurants than we realize.