Is frozen fish better than fresh?

Frozen fish are more likely to have peak freshness locked in, along with being more environmentally friendly.

Frozen fish are more likely to have peak freshness locked in, along with being more environmentally friendly.

MOM’s Organic Market, a grocery chain headquartered in Rockville, Maryland, takes its mission to "protect and restore the environment" seriously. Among other practices, it is 100 percent committed to serving sustainable seafood, using standards formulated with help from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program. Given all the effort the grocery story puts into sourcing its fish it's no surprise the bulk of it is...frozen?

The frozen seafood aisle at MOM's.  ( Photo Source )

The frozen seafood aisle at MOM's.  (Photo Source)

In a culture that assumes fresh is always best, it can be shocking to find out that frozen fish is generally better for the environment, more nutritious, and even fresher than the fresh fish found at the seafood counter.

“Buying frozen seafood is a great way to consume a super fresh and delicious end product.” says Chris Miller, MOM’s Regional Coordinator for Produce, Seafood, Meat, Cheese, and Bulk. In short, we're not talking about the mealy, reheated frozen fish sticks of your childhood.

Let’s start with why frozen fish is environmentally superior. Frozen generally means it can be transported by boat or truck, whereas time-sensitive fresh fish must be flown into a store, generating a lot more in carbon emissions.

Frozen fish also limits the risk of food waste. As much as 47 percent of edible seafood was wasted in the United States between 2009 and 2013, according to the findings of a Johns Hopkins study. A large portion of this waste was attributed to fresh fish that consumers didn’t eat in time and had to throw out. With frozen fish, home cooks have the option of taking only the amount they need from their freezers.

But how can frozen fish be fresher than fresh fish? Frozen fish suppliers tend to freeze fish right after it’s caught, locking in nutritional value and flavor. Fish sent to stores without being frozen, on the other hand, start to deteriorate almost immediately. "The clock never moves backward when it comes to freshness,” says Gavin Gibbons of the National Fisheries Institute. “If a fish is caught, handled well and frozen immediately, you literally stop the clock. You freeze in the freshness." Another reality of the seafood trade is that much of what's called fresh has been frozen before being thawed and put out for sale.

So unless you're sure fish has been caught locally, and recently, head to the frozen food aisle the next time you're looking for some good fresh fish.

Takeaway: Chris Miller, from MOMs, advises thawing frozen fish in a bowl of warm (not hot) water for 15 to 20 minutes before cooking. Pair it with a few of Stone Pier Press’s delicious side dishes and dinner is served.