Tilapia: The 'Aquatic Chicken' Has Health, Environmental Drawbacks

May 2, 2011


Ten years ago, no one had heard of tilapia. Now American's can't get enough of this fish that's been around since Biblical times.

Tilapia got the nickname "aquatic chicken" because they're plentiful, easy to farm and have a bland flavor favored by many Americans, especially schools and hospitals. As a result, consumption in the U.S has exploded to 475 million pounds a year, according to a New York Times article on the impact of tilapia on health and the environment.

People also like tilapia because it's one fish that isn't endangered or full of mercury. But like most things these days, things just aren't that simple.

Tilapia are easy to farm because the thrive in pens on a diet mainly based on cheap corn and soy. And as a result, tilapia meat has much less of the healthy fats other fish do. And growing tilapia farms pollute the water.

So the next time you want to have a nice piece of fish for dinner, tilapia might not be the slam-dunk choice it once was.

Photo: By roolrool