Healthy Habits Hero: Barton Seaver

"Sustainable seafood is delicious, nutritious, and readily available at stores where we already shop." - Barton Seaver, National Geographic Fellow, author, and chef, Washington, D.C.

Barton Seaver
Photo: Photo: Marcus Nilsson

Growing up, Barton Seaver's family ate dinner together nearly every day. His dad did most of the cooking in their D.C. home, but "my brother and I also had a lot of influence over what was cooked because we helped with the shopping, cooking, and serving. We were able to explore what we really liked about food." Once or twice a month, Seaver's dad took the boys to a local open-air fish market "to pick what was bountiful and beautiful." That's where his love for all things oceanic began. Here, the author of For Cod and Country enlightens on the best ways to savor the sea's bounty while conserving it at the same time.

BARTON'S TOP 5 TIPS

  • Open a can. "I eat seafood three to five times a week, and most of it comes out of a can. One of the most sustainable and nutritious aisles in the grocery store is the canned seafood aisle. Anchovies, sardines, oysters, clams, herring, pink salmon, mackerel, crab, sockeye salmon, and mussels—I just named 10 of the most sustainable species, and they're cheap, accessible, high in quality, low in toxicity, and superhigh in omega-3s."
  • Fish the freezer aisle, too. "Frozen seafood carries a bad rap because for many years fish was frozen to keep it from going bad at the last minute. But technology has advanced to the point where some fish are processed and frozen within hours of being plucked from the water. Often, the quality of frozen fish is equal to or better than its fresh counterparts."
  • Meet your calorie and fiscal budgets. "Eating seafood doesn't have to be expensive. Portion size is vitally important. A 4- to 5-ounce serving is usually more than enough for one person, so a pound, maybe a pound and a quarter, will feed a family of four."
  • Cook it low and slow. "Lightly season a piece of fish with salt and olive oil, and cook it in a 275° to 300° oven for 20 to 30 minutes. The fish will heat slowly, so the water and oil won't vaporize. Plus, you get more leeway because the window between cooked and overcooked is larger."
  • Be flexible. "As consumers, the best thing we can do is walk in with an open mind and not a pre-ordained recipe. If you're shopping for fresh, do what my father did at the fish market: Ask what's freshest, best, and most economical."
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