Is Seafood Brain Food?

VoxFairfax has previously posted on the concept of canards as threats to rational thought and discussion. It seems certain that at least once in your life you have heard that seafood is “brain food.” Indeed, a 2016 article in Forbes, a voice of authority, offered the following:

A century ago, the evidence that fish is brain food was virtually nonexistent. Researchers have been looking at this question ever since and the evidence has been mixed. Even if fish is good for the brain, the mercury content in some fish might have an opposite effect….  [A new study] in JAMA [Journal of the American Medical Association] answers this question: fish is indeed good for the brain…. [E]ating fish regularly was associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

[E]ating fish regularly was associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Neither the article nor the reported research directly linked the consumption of seafood with enhanced cognitive performance but represented an attempt to validate the canard. Readers may recall that VoxFairfax has also been tracking the plight of menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay, as overfishing has threatened the viability of the stock and generated concern about the economic future of the industry. [See https://wp.me/p9wDCF-NY.] The excess harvesting of menhaden is being carried out by Omega Protein, a Reedville fishery operation with 300 employees, which is Canadian-owned and based in Texas. So much for “Made in the USA.”

Omega Protein, however, is no longer threatened with a moratorium on its menhaden fishing operations. Recently, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission notified the US Secretary of Commerce that Virginia is now in compliance with the menhaden catch limits set by the commission and exceeded by Omega last year. Thus, the Reedville operation is no longer facing a possible closure and the 300 jobs are safe.

The complex decision-making process contributes to consumer satisfaction that the supply chain of seafood to the brain function has been preserved–at least in this instance.

On another front, the COVID-19 pandemic has severely crippled Virginia fishermen and crabbers in their trades. These fishermen and watermen are for the most part independent or small business enterprises. As the restaurant trade has virtually ceased, so too has fishing and crabbing activity. The CARES Act provided some $400 million through NOAA with $4.5 million for Commonwealth aquaculture. The availability of that business assistance has been noticed by affected fishermen but, for the most part, not welcomed. Eastern Shore Post covered the story, publishing comments from locals:

“I have no faith in that system,” said Gloucester waterman Daniel Knott, vice president of the Virginia Watermen’s Association. “Show me one waterman who is involved in that process. The large ones are the ones who will benefit,” he said, likening the $300 million for fishermen from the CARES Act to the Paycheck Protection Program, which saw some large corporations exploiting loopholes to their benefit. Cape Charles waterman Scott Wivell also does not expect to see any of the CARES Act money. “Especially being small time commercial fishermen we are often overlooked,” he wrote in a text response to the Post. “I expect most of that money will go to large aquaculture operations and charter boats.”

Alas and alack, foodies! The watermen of Virginia sound as though the pandemic has lifted the tide above their heads and threatens the very intellectual health and lifeblood of citizens of the Old Dominion. All humor aside, though, COVID-19 has disturbed our lives in ways large and small. All conveniences previously taken for granted have been disrupted, down to the food supply, suppliers, and servers.

If, in fact, seafood is brain food, then resurrecting our aquaculture ought to rank high in the recovery to ensure that the cognitive capacity of those upon whom we rely to make decisions have a continual supply of brain food.

If, in fact, seafood is brain food, then resurrecting our aquaculture ought to rank high in the recovery to ensure that the cognitive capacity of those upon whom we rely to make decisions have a continual supply of brain food. Unfortunately, there have been too many examples of failed leadership, particularly in Washington, in addressing the pandemic. Fish oil from the Chesapeake menhaden may be the first infusion of common sense. Hopefully, P45 has a liking for fish sticks.

There is always the possibility that the lesser-known menhaden could be dubbed along with striped bass as an official emblem of the Commonwealth, like the foxhound (dog), bat (mammal), and milk. Virginia Watermen, take notice.



Categories: Issues, Local, pandemic, State

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