It is a fact that seafood is staple for a Lenten diet. In Church history, there was no rule on the consumption of fish for days of fasting, only abstinence of meat.
Since fish is not a warm-blooded animal, it was used as a substitute along with vegetables.
From then on, fish became the alternative source of protein during Lent and all fasting days. In Trinidad and Tobago, our favourite fish are sourced from both freshwater and saltwater. We need to be very careful when purchasing fish and other seafood. Here are some tips when shopping for these:
- Purchase your fresh fish/seafood at a vendor who stores his/her catch on ice. Ensure that you ask the vendor what day the item was caught.
- For fish, look for firm and shiny skin. Ideally, if you poke the flesh, it should bounce back and not have a sticky feeling. This applies to shrimp as well. Check the gills of the fish. Freshly caught fish will have bright red/pink gills, not dry, slimy or grey.
- Give the fish a smell. Fresh fish and seafood should smell like the ocean and not fishy or have a pungent odour.
- Examine the eyes of the fish. If the fish is fresh, the eyes should be clear with no cloudiness present and slightly bulging.
- When purchasing crab, lobster, clams and mussels, ensure they are alive when you purchase them.
- Do not purchase from vendors who sell juvenile fish (‘by-catch’). It is our environmental duty to ensure juveniles are allowed a chance to grow into adults in the ocean so populations can be sustainable. Purchasing from vendors who sell by-catch endorses this unethical behaviour.
Due to the many sources of water pollution (both oceanic and riverine), harmful pollutants are ingested by fish which leads to mercury poisoning. When we consume the fish these poisonous toxins bioaccumulate in our bodies, so it is advised that pregnant women abstain from all seafood. This Lent, ensure you try these tips for a safer seafood feast.
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