While mercury-laden fish may be bad, red meat is worse

I was reading the article John posted yesterday about the shocking amount of mercury in some fish.

I’m a big fish eater, and would prefer eating seafood over anything else any day of the week. Since I grew up fishing, I have a better idea about where fish are on the chart, in terms of what’s safe, what isn’t, and how many times a week or month you can eat each fish (but yeah, it’s confusing!). And I do try to balance out what makes sense and what’s too much. I’d say we eat fish once or twice per week, but I do try and make them different types of fish just to be safe.

As bad as the fish problem is, however, that only tells part of the story. It still might be safer to eat fish than red meat.  I don’t eat much red meat because many more studies show how dangerous it is to your health.  Eating red meat leads to higher rates of colon cancer, plus you have the problems related to the massive doping they do on cows. The US is much worse with allowing drugs in cows than Europe, but over here in Europe we now have the horse problem. I don’t have anything necessarily against eating horse meat but the drugs they give horses raise many question marks because they weren’t necessarily prepared with consumers in mind.

For industrial farming, there is what many consider to be a problem with antibiotics. They’re used too often on factory farms and more people are raising potential red flags about their overuse and negative health impacts on humans.

Others in the farming industry argue otherwise and claim it’s not a problem but I’d rather be on the side of caution. The unfortunate reality with factory farming is that there are so many animals packed in close quarters, failure to dope can mean costly problems for the farm. But still, when animals are doped more than the East Germany women’s Olympic swim team, I’d rather be extra cautious.

Food via Shutterstock

Food via Shutterstock

Then you have chickens, and the same massive doping problems that you have with cows become an issue. Our chickens here in France are puny compared to the jumbo American chickens, but even still, I try to limit my intake of them.

Even being a vegetarian has its risks with the chemicals used on fruits and vegetables, and the remnants of it on the skin. Realistically the only healthy option out there is pure organic vegetarian. Everything else comes with risks. No matter what we eat, we need to be balanced and we need to be paying attention to either the fish chart or something else. At least with the fish chart it’s an actual chart. With red meat or chicken, you need to do your own research.

I know for my wife and me, I’m trying to do more vegetarian dinners (organic, when possible) because it’s the safest option out there, plus there’s less fat. After winter eating, less fat is a good thing.

It’s frustrating to be a consumer who doesn’t want to die from dangerous food but for now, that’s just how it is. The best we can do is read up, try to make educated decisions and then hope for the best.

Who thought a visit to the grocery store could be so challenging?


An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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