Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Salmon Sandwich - A Low Mercury Alternative

I love tuna fish sandwiches...well, at least I did until the USDA Food and Drug Administration warned against eating too much tuna and other large fish such as tilefish and king mackerel, that contain high levels of methymercury. Mercury is naturally occurring in our environment but is also present in products such as thermometers and fluorescent light bulbs. Through a complex chain of events, it eventually reaches our oceans and rivers where bacteria convert it into more toxic forms. Small fish and other bottom feeders ingest it and it eventually makes its way up through the food chain and accumulates in large fish such as tuna. White or albacore tuna has higher levels of methylmercury than canned light tuna but according to a 2006 Consumer Reports article, the light version can contain just as much or more methylmercury than its white counterpart. Given that the FDA has warned against eating too much albacore tuna (for all people but especially for more vulnerable populations like small children), it makes sense that this should apply to light tuna as well. Tuna fish sandwiches appear on the childcare center menu from time to time. When it does, I pack Caroline a canned salmon sandwich. Why take the risk? I use Natural Sea canned pink salmon because it has been certified eco-friendly by the Marine Stewardship Council and is more affordable than some of the other brands. Salmon has been found to have consistently low levels of methylmercury and it is an excellent source of calcium (if it contains the soft bones that you can just crush into the salmon salad) and omega-3-fatty acids. I use one can of salmon (drained) and add a tablespoon of mayonnaise, a tablespoon of yogurt and a pinch of salt, pepper, and dried dill. Sometimes, if I have it on hand, I add a stalk of celery, minced. Caroline loves it.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, January 10: Breakfast - ten grain hot cereal, prunes;Lunch - salmon salad, 100% whole wheat bread, carrots (Giving Tree Farm), broccoli; Snacks - pearsauce, whole wheat graham crackers

Childcare Center Menu, January 10: oatmeal, raisins, cantaloupe; tuna fish, wheat pita bread, carrots, pears; Snacks - chocolate cookies, grapes

1 comment:

ChrisO said...

Hi Betty,

Just catching up on your blog. Do you think Caroline would go for sardines? If so, have you ever tried the Bela-Olhao Sardines?

Foods for Living and the E.L. Coop carry them. They are delicious and supposedly very low in mercury.

Chris O.

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