From time to time, I reread Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, the landmark book that categorizes the work and research of Dr. Weston Price (all of which is archived by the Price-Pottenger Foundation) who traveled the globe analyzing the native and traditional foods of people all over the world and how those foods benefited (or detracted from) their health. It’s a dry read, but a good one.
When I turn through its pages, among the many ideas that strike me is how much native peoples throughout the world valued and emphasized fish and shellfish, all of which was wild-caught. Even landlocked peoples often went to great lengths to find, preserve and use shellfish, fish and roe. In this chart, which categorizes the foods of the peoples Price studied, all but one society consumed fish or other seafoods.
In his letter to his nieces and nephews (You can find it in this edition of Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.), Price distills the bulk of his findings, travels and studies into practical, actionable advice for those he cared for most. There, he emphasized the importance of seafoods, writing:
All marine or seafoods, both fresh and salt water, are high in minerals and constitute on of the very best foods you could eat. – Weston A. Price, DDS
There’s no doubt as to why: Seafood provides powerful nourishment, particularly in their array of micronutrients like B vitamins and minerals as well plenty of omega-3 fatty acids like DHA and EPA, which are not otherwise found in plant foods in any meaningful quantities and which are difficult to assimilate from plant-based sources of omega-3 fats. There’s a lot of wisdom in traditional food pathways.
Fish, Omega-3s and Combatting Depression
In The Depression Cure, Dr. Stephen Ilardi discusses the importance of omega-3 fatty acids at length, describing how supplemental omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help mitigate the risk of depression both in animal and human studies. Moreover, he remarks upon how the decline in dietary omega-3 fatty acids in the American diet correlates closely with a steep rise in depression.
I’ve struggled with depression, and continue to struggle with it from time to time, which is why therapeutic lifestyle changes, like those Ilardi discusses in The Depression Cure. Among the lifestyle changes he outlines, and which meet with great success, are dietary changes that emphasize the consumption of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like oily fish as well as the meat of grass-fed animals and wild game (though not particularly high in omega-3s, they offer a favorable ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s). He also recommends supplemental fish oil, and I take cod liver oil instead.
Why I Serve Fish and Shellfish Frequently
Fish and shellfish are such nutrient-dense foods, that I serve them often – usually a few times a week, and we choose them from high-quality, sustainable sources using the best catch methods. This usually means picking up a bag of oysters at the local oyster farm (those of you who are landlocked can have oysters shipped to you), or eating some salmon roe with breakfast as it’s loaded with omega-3s and fat-soluble vitamins.
I also serve salmon at least once a week (baked with cream and herbs, with broth in this Japanese-style hot pot or in any number of other ways), and salmon partners beautifully with other rich flavors. Among my favorite ways to serve it is smothered in Chipotle Bourbon Butter, sweetened with a touch of honey.
Salmon with Chipotle Bourbon Butter
- Whisk the honey into the bourbon until it dissolves fully, and then set it aside. In a medium bowl, or in the basin of a standmixer (like this one, beat the garlic, butter, sea salt and chipotle chile paste together until smooth, then, continue beating the seasoned butter while pouring the honeyed bourbon into the butter in a smooth, thin stream until fully incorporated.
- Heat the oven to 425 F, and spread a thin layer of butter on the baking sheet.
- Arrange the salmon on the greased baking sheet, and then spoon the Honey Chipotle Bourbon Butter generously over each filet. Brush the butter along the whole fillet to evenly coat them. Bake the salmon for 15 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.