RAISING TILAPIA - Make it in America

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Do you know where your fish has been?

Next time someone jokingly asks "What’s that s--- you’re eating," it very well may be – if it’s fish from China.
"Chinese tilapia are often raised on feces" was the headline of a story last week by MSN News. (See accompanying photo) But while the fish come from China, they are actually raised in Thailand, where they are fed animal feces.

MSN News spoke with a leading food safety scientist who said that Chinese tilapia’s reputation is well-deserved.

"While there are some really good aquaculture ponds in Asia, in many of these ponds — or really in most of these ponds — it's typical to use untreated chicken manure as the primary nutrition," said Michael Doyle, director of the
lt Center for Food Safety at  the University of Georgia.  "In some places, like  Thailand  for example, they will just put the chickens over the pond and they just poop right in the pond."
Asked to estimate what percentage of Chinese tilapia are raised on animal feces, Doyle estimated 50 percent. Tilapia, by the way, is the fourth most commonly consumed fish in the United States.

The story emphasized that this kind of diet makes fish – and those who consume it – "highly susceptible to bacterial infections like salmonella and E.coli."

According to the report, farmed fish has overtaken beef in terms of worldwide production. As a result, the report added, “in China and other Asian countries like  Vietnam  and Thailand, intense demand for farmed fish and cutthroat competition among farmers drives many of these farmers to cut corners,” allowing “enormous quantities of seafood to be raised in a minimal area and with minimal resources.”

Fish eaters considering a change in diet may want to think again.

The same week food author Paul Greenberg told the Seattle times that 91 percent of the fish we consume in the U.S. "is imported, some of it from dubious sources."

In what defies logic, salmon from Washington State " is even exported to China for cheap processing -- then imported back here" for consumption, according to the Times.

(The power over our food and well-being has been outsourced. Find out what you can do about it. Attend Make It In America, Nov. 19-22, at the California Center for the arts, Escondido, where innovation and entrepreneurship will provide alternatives.)

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