Farmed vs Wild Caught Seafood: Nutrition Lies EXPOSED

  |   EP165   |   60 mins.

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Episode Highlights

What you eat changes your biological makeup & how your body works. But it's not just what you eat; it's what your food eats as well Share on XLess than 1% of the global production of farmed salmon is king salmon Share on XGrocery stores that bought wild-caught fish & sampled them found microplastics in 25% of the fish Share on XMercury in the oceans is up over 300% Share on XUnless you're raising fish in a controlled environment & controlling the feed, it's very difficult to have a predictable outcome that doesn't involve bioaccumulation Share on X

About James Arthur Smith

James Arthur Smith is a dedicated surfer, yachtsman, and the founder of Seatopia. He has spent the last eight years immersing himself in the aquaculture industry by personally visiting farms, eating the feed the fish eat, diving under the grow-out pens, and testing the harvested products in the lab. His passion for the ocean led him to live aboard a sailboat for ten years, sailing the Eastern Pacific coastline from San Francisco, California, to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.

James is on a mission to deliver the best certified clean seafood to you which will grow a sustainable aquaculture seafood supply chain and help heal the blue planet.

James Arthur Smith

Top Things You’ll Learn From James Arthur Smith

  • [06:12] The Problem with Your Seafood
    • The reason you’re not getting the same seafood anymore
    • Why the food of your food matters
    • The effects of current mercury levels on your seafood
    • The mis-leading labels of fish products in groceries
  • [8:59] Wild-Caught vs Farmed Seafood
    • Why wild-caught isn’t always healthier
    • How wild-caught seafood has higher mercury levels
    • Why farmed is better than wild-caught seafood
    • 10 benefits of farm-raised seafood
    • The environmentally friendly seafood option
  • [22:18] The Reality of the Fishing Industry
    • What companies don’t tell you
    • The thing that’s worse than microplastics
    • The truth about fish oil & nutrients from seafood
    • What impacts the health benefits of seafood
    • 5 shocking nutrition lies about seafood
  • [29:10] How Farms are Innovating Their Seafood Production
    • Extensive vs intensive farming
    • Industry-changing benefits of extensive farming
    • How farms are transitioning from traditional practices
    • How Seatopia is innovating fish farming/aquaculture
    • The soldier fly protein
    • What we can learn from Chilean farms
  • [50:02] Effective Action Steps to Take When Buying Seafood
    • The importance of relying on data & being conscientious when eating seafood
    • How to get good quality seafood in your country
    • Ways to prep your fish perfectly for cooking
    • What to use against parasites when going to restaurants for seafood
    • The biggest mistake you make when handling fish

Resources Mentioned

  • Product: Seatopia (Automatically get for $20 off)
  • Book: Blue Mind
  • Article: Best Spirulina & Chlorella Algae Supplements
  • Article: Latest Biohacking Stats & Facts To Optimize Your Health

Episode Transcript

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Nick Urban [00:00:07]:
Are you a high performer obsessed with growth and looking for an edge? Welcome to MINDBODY Peak Performance. Together, we’ll discover underground secrets to unlocking the full potential of your mind, body, and spirit. We’ll learn from some of the world’s leading minds, from ancient wisdom to cutting edge tools and everything in between. This is your host, Nick Urban. Enjoy the episode. Is it true that wild caught seafood could be less healthy than farm raised? Years ago, I came across an article by 1 of the big publishers that claimed exactly that. Their rationale is that wild caught seafood often has much higher levels of heavy Katalyst, such as mercury and other contaminants. But as it turns out, that is only a small part of the story.

Nick Urban [00:01:10]:
What they did get right, however, is that farmed seafood can be healthier than wild caught. As you might expect, it all depends on the farm. In this episode, we demystify the world of fish, aquaculture, and seafood as a whole. Of course, we discuss the mercury content of seafood and how you can offset and protect yourself against it. We discuss the tremendous variability of the levels of nutrients and toxicity of the same fish just raised on different farms. Sometimes even neighboring farms have vastly different nutrition profiles. I learned from the interview Mind actually experienced personally from consuming their fish is that real high quality fish shouldn’t have a strong fishy smell or taste, of course, with some exceptions. Our guest answers the biggest mistakes people make when buying seafood and preparing it at home.

Nick Urban [00:02:18]:
We explore other topics such as how chefs know that fresh fish is generally inferior to dry aged fish, kind of like with beef. We talk about the process of freezing the fish, defrosting the fish, parasites, everything you should know there. Then we talk about the biodynamic style aquatic ecosystem that yields the best seafood. We talk about the different factors that make Seatopia a unique service, and our guest even explains how the way that the seafood dyes impacts the taste, the texture, and the nutrient quality. We discuss all that and a whole lot more. Our guest this week is James Arthur Smith. He’s the founder of Seatopia and also a dedicated surfer and yachtsman. James has spent the last 8 years immersing himself in the aquaculture industry by personally visiting farms, eating diving under the grow out pens, and testing the harvested products in the lab.

Nick Urban [00:03:34]:
His passion for the ocean led him to live abroad, a sailboat, for 10 years, sailing the Eastern Pacific coastline from San Francisco, California, my hometown, to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. James is on a mission to deliver the best certified clean seafood to you, which will grow a sustained aquaculture seafood supply chain and help heal the planet. Now I really didn’t know what to expect before trying Seatopia for myself. I’m not a very big seafood fan and especially the fish that tastes and smells fishy. So when they sent me a bunch of different types of seafood that I’ve never seen or tried, I was a bit hesitant, and I even decided to give certain things that I’ve tried and disliked another shot, such as scallops. I’ve never liked scallops, never cooked scallops, and to my surprise, after meeting with the complimentary chef that you get to meet with when you place your order, he gave me a simple recipe, and it turned out quite good. Shout out to you, Clark, if you’re listening. And by the way, the service is a bit pricey.

Nick Urban [00:04:49]:
I have a code for you that will bring the cost down a bit. I believe it’s the code Urban, so go ahead and use that. At the same time, my call with Clark was worth the price of the order by itself. So if nothing else, give it a shot. Take advantage of that free call. And whether you’re already a seasoned seafood chef or an absolute beginner like I was, that call will help you level up your skills. You can find links to everything we discuss and the resources mentioned in the show notes for this episode, which will be at Peak the number 165. Alright.

Nick Urban [00:05:32]:
Let’s bring in James. James, welcome to the podcast.

James Arthur Smith [00:05:37]:
I’m happy to be here. Thank you.

Nick Urban [00:05:39]:
Well, ever since I had 1 of your items earlier, I had a slice of Hiramasa, which is fancy for a form of, I believe, yellowtail, amberjack, something similar, fish that was sushi grade, and I I’m I did it in the form of sashimi, but I’m excited to delve into the world of seafood with you today.

James Arthur Smith [00:06:08]:
The the problem of even articulating the type of fish is is is a big part of the problem. We’re so disconnected with our food, in particular, our seafood. The naming conventions have not really Health. People misnamed fish all the time, and yellowtail, amberjack, elmichordjack, cediola, hittamasa, hamachi. There’s so many misnomers. But, yeah, when you know the farm, you know the breeding, you know what it fed, what it was fed, and you can see a certificate of mallets, it’s kinda different.

Nick Urban [00:06:39]:
Exactly. And for most of my life, I code distinguish salmon and whitefish and sea fish, but that was about it. So this is a whole new world that I’m excited to explore with you. Before we do, what are the unusual nonnegotiables you’ve done so far today for your health, your performance, and your bioharmony?

James Arthur Smith [00:07:01]:
She’s in she well, in honor of the late Wallace j Nichols, top of Mind, it’s just blew my mind. I I don’t know if this is directly what you’re looking for, but I think that there is a direct connection with just being in, on, or around the ocean that has a material effect on my health and my longevity and my wellness and my state of ease. So I pay a lot of attention to just being in the water as often as possible and really recognizing the quality of water and respecting and and blessing water. I don’t know how nerdy and and hippie we can get on this Podcast, but, yeah, if you haven’t read Blue Mind by Wallace j Nichols, it’s it’s a must read.

Nick Urban [00:07:50]:
I love that. And we can try and reduce that to negative ions or grounding or your sun exposure, but it’s there’s a instinctual urge that so many humans, myself included, feel about just getting to a natural bodies of water, and there’s something really special about the ocean and any sea breeze like that.

James Arthur Smith [00:08:11]:
Yeah. Native violence is 1 thing but there’s so much more you know psychologically and on a sort of spiritual path. You know, we all came from the ocean. You know, we it’s it’s deeply ingrained in our biology Mind our genetics. And when we reconnect with the ocean, there’s something spiritual that that is is very important. And something else to be said with with why I think, on a biological, but why seafood works really well for us because we dev we evolved from the oceans Mind EPA and DHA exist in these marine environments, and it’s part of what allowed the prefrontal cortex to develop. And, yeah. So, that’s a nonnegotiable for me is to be in honor near the water all the time.

Nick Urban [00:08:55]:
Well, that sets us up nicely. You mentioned farmed seafood earlier, and we’ve been talking about the ocean. And when I was coming across Seatopia, your company, I noticed that you guys proudly display on your website in the front page that you do not provide wild caught seafood as it’s traditionally thought of. Can you explain to me the nuances and why wild caught isn’t always healthier? And in certain circumstances where the company is sourcing and doing things properly, it’s often inferior across several different domains such as nutrition content and then also potentially heavy metals, contaminants, and toxicants.

James Arthur Smith [00:09:38]:
Well, thanks for prepping it with Nuance. If anything, what the world needs is more Nuance. If you were to make a generalization about farm raised seafood and comparing it to wild caught seafood, it could be safe to say that farm raised seafood is inferior to wild caught seafood on the basis of, let’s just say, omega 3 content or something of that nature. There’s a lot of studies that are frankly outdated that are referencing, farm raised seafood methodologies and and factory farming that really proliferated in the 19 seventies, eighties, nineties, some even early 2000s that were not using the same methodologies as the farms that we are supporting. I’ll preface it this way. Less than 1% of the global production of salmon is that’s farmed is king salmon. And of those king salmon, we work with a handful of farms that are doing things so unique that it’s less than than 5% of total king salmon farm Practitioner, like king salmon raised in glacier water, freshwater environments, never exposed to, environmental toxins in, in mountain lakes or oceans or rivers, literally in these aquifers. There are outliers in terrestrial farming from in the cattle farming and chicken farming.

James Arthur Smith [00:10:58]:
We don’t assume that all chicken and beef was farmed in exactly the same manner. We know that there are factory farms within beef, and we know that there are factory farms chicken. We’ve known to ask for cage free pasture raised animals Mind those specific farms, and we have come to support specific farming practices and physical farms I need. And what we’re doing with Cetopia is bringing that same level of visibility and education so that cons a handful of people who really want to support truly scalable food systems from a handful of farms actually providing solutions that can have a net positive impact on the environment URBAN actually vote for these specific farms and get a product that’s quantifiably better.

Nick Urban [00:11:42]:
Yeah. And when you farm, you’re able to control the inputs where you can’t necessarily with wild seafood. And it’s, I think, pretty well accepted to this point that what you eat changes your biological makeup, how your body works. But it’s not just what you Peak, it’s what your food eats as well.

James Arthur Smith [00:12:03]:
Very, very true. It’s it’s what we eat and what we ate. And so in the wild, you know, it’s it’s very difficult to say exactly what the nutritional content is of tuna, for example, because some tuna species are migrating incredible distances like across the entire Pacific. Like you, you can catch tuna off the coast of California that, that has also been in Japan and, and in the Galapagos or CHEK exposure of different diets, as well as environmental pollutants varies significantly depending on where that animal traveled. Mind, unfortunately, all rivers lead to the Urban, Mind, we’ve been putting incredible amounts of pollution into our rivers. And all of our coal fire plants, effluent putting mercury into the atmosphere is falling down into the oceans, and the levels of mercury in the Urban today are up over 300%. The concentrations of microplastics that are in the ocean today are set to outnumber the, the number of stars in the galaxy and the fish in the ocean. It is a very different ocean today, and I say ocean singular.

James Arthur Smith [00:13:17]:
It’s not plural. They’re all of the oceans are connected. There is not a pristine environment in Alaska or Antarctica that is free of microplastics. There are beaches in Alaska that are covered with plastic. There are seagulls and shrimp and seals and walruses that are testing positive for microplastics. And it’s not just microplastics, all the other environmental pollutants that are attracted to those, like the BPAs, but also PCBs and and DDT and all these other chemicals that are in the ocean are binding to these polymers. So unless you’re raising fish in a controlled environment and controlling the seed, it’s very difficult to have a predictable outcome that’s not going to have a bioaccumulation. So what we’re doing with Cetopia is removing these farms from the trophic accumulation by feeding them at that base layer of microalgae.

James Arthur Smith [00:14:14]:
So microalgae is where the EPA and DHA is produced through photosynthesis and converting sunlight into these sugars, into these oils. We can produce microalgae in fermentation tanks and grow industrial scale productions of EPA and DHA in a truly scalable way and feed those EPA and DHAs with proteins like mycelium proteins and soldier fly proteins and produce a scalable Peak that is nutritionally balanced for fish. And that is, in a nutshell, the the sort of filter for what we describe as innovative aquaculture projects, projects that are that are not dependent on forage fish to feed fish Mind are not utilizing traditionally commoditized subsidized proteins and oils like canola and soya in order to feed fish, but using algae based oils and innovative proteins like soldier fly proteins.

Nick Urban [00:15:19]:
What’s the 1 soldier fly?

James Arthur Smith [00:15:21]:
Yeah. Fly larva, basically. So there’s a farm, for example, in Chile that we’re working with that, has a partnership with a grocery store chain, and they take all of their organic waste matter Urban they, it gets, instead of just being dumped into Practitioner waste streams, it goes to a facility where they actually grow flies, soldier flies, and then the larva state, these little, these these larva, these maggots are then dried and turned into a fish Peak. And then they feed that to these, steelhead trout. So steelhead trout, salmon, in particular in their juvenile state, are in the rivers foraging, eating insects Mind and larvae, and it is part of their natural diet. Now you combine those with a couple other amino acids and and oils and fats from, microalgae, and you have a very nutrient rich diet that gives them the profile of omega 3 Peak and DHA that are higher than a traditional wild caught, counterpart?

Nick Urban [00:16:29]:
I’m looking at it from 2 perspectives. There’s the nutritional content of the fish and the seafood, what they actually contain, and then there’s the heavy metal and contaminants. And do you wanna maximize 1, minimize the other, continuing on with contaminants and things that you sometimes find in seafood because you mentioned microplastics URBAN, and I saw 1 paper where we stratify the consumers of microplastics Mind not through microplastics themselves, but, say, plastic water bottles and things that naturally contain them. The highest consumers had a 400% increased risk of, I believe, cardiovascular disease. And just earlier today, I was reading about how there are microplastics, and we’re now discovering there are nanoplastics that are even smaller and are just appearing to be just as dangerous as microplastics, and they can pass even easier into the bloodstream and disrupt all kinds of neuroendocrine functions.

James Arthur Smith [00:17:34]:
Yeah. It’s a tricky situation. We don’t totally understand the outcomes of living in this era where plastics have entered into our food system at this rate. 15 years ago, or maybe less, UC Davis found, they did a study where they tested wild caught seafood all up and down the Pacific code of California. And, they went to just markets, fish markets Mind grocery stores, and just bought all the wild caught fish and and sampled them. And they found microplastics in 25% of fish. And then they did a similar study in Asia Mind again found, a similar quantity. Every year since then, we’ve seen those numbers increasing, move the percentages.

James Arthur Smith [00:18:20]:
Some studies, it’s up to 80% now. There was a study recently that just came out this year that found microplastics in 100% of the water samples, in Alaska. So microplastics are pretty ubiquitous now. They are, as you indicated, disrupting endocrine Mind there’s all these studies related to coronary issues, but it’s also, mercury levels. And some people think that mercury is not that important, but my wife is, is pregnant Mind we do everything we can to Optimization health and optimize the baby’s health. And having a high level of selenium and omega threes to balance and and help the body detox. So things like mercury is great, but why not choose fish that are simply 10 fold lower of mercury to begin with? And you can do that when you feed fish a very different diet, when they’re not out there eating foraged fish or fish meal that bio accumulated everything that was in the environment CHEK you’re feeding them algae and these soldier fly larvae. And I’m not just saying this, we also are testing this.

James Arthur Smith [00:19:32]:
We send a sample from every single lot that is harvested to quantify the parts per billion of mercury. And these this data is then extrapolated based on your age and your health profile and the type of fish you’re getting. And you can work with a functional medicine doctor to say, well, you could probably eat 7 pounds of this fish a week and not have any considerations or be within the the guidelines set up by the FDA or FDA. Data is empowering us to make better decisions, and all of this data is on our website. All of this certificate of Katalyst are transparently available. You click and download them on the website. 0 detectable levels of microplastics in these fish. So it’s just drastically different.

James Arthur Smith [00:20:20]:
There are increasingly, unknown concerns of eating wild caught seafood or seafood that was or farm seafood that was fed, you know, bait fish, but also fed canola oil and soya because of other contaminants that we’re putting in the soil and glyphosate some other things.

Nick Urban [00:20:43]:
Yeah. With a lot of these things, 1 exposure to some heavy metals, albeit under a certain level or microplastics, that’s probably not gonna cause all the downstream health consequences, but exposure is cumulative. So if you’re getting a little from your seafood, you’re getting a little from exhaust, you’re getting it from soil, different things like that. Over time, that’s gonna snowball into something that’s potentially very concerning.

James Arthur Smith [00:21:12]:
Yeah. Glad you brought that up. I’m not out here by any means trying to say, don’t eat this. Don’t eat that. Like, be like like, hey, it’s it’s fine. Have, you know, have this, live a little, but be conscientious of this. And if you have the data and you know what you’re accumulating over time, you’re able to make better decisions. To be clear, we don’t sell tuna.

James Arthur Smith [00:21:33]:
We we’ve never sold tuna. There are some people who purport to do farm raised tuna. I don’t think it’s truly a scalable food system because their their metabolism is so different. It it they just they expend so biosynergy, be you know, they’re warm blooded creatures. They’re moving fast all the time. It’s it’s the ratio is about £20 of fee to £1 of growth. So it’s just not an efficient use of the feed conversion ratio, whereas some of the fish we work with, it’s like 1 to 1 ratio. You know, the ideal of a single line and a single hook from an artisan fisher, you know, a mom and pop.

James Arthur Smith [00:22:12]:
That’s beautiful. But the reality today is that most industrial scale fishers are using technology developed for underwater warfare to identify where the schools are. They have science that collaborates to, like, win the spawning seasons are in breeding aggregations, and they go and they can decimate entire populations very, very quickly. We are in the midst of the 6th great extinction on this planet. There is a new species going extinct every 20 minutes. We’re doing something that’s very difficult, is trying to create some awareness for the handful of solutions that exist that are using farm seafood but are actually doing it right. That are part of the solution that are raising these fish from eggs on a clean diet. Farming them in low density environments, and in some cases Biohacking a net positive impact on the environment by introducing multi trophic aquaculture practices or polytropic practices that create symbiotic relationships between that fish poop and filter fears and and kelp and things of that nature.

Nick Urban [00:23:23]:
That’s almost like biodynamic agriculture, but butter instead.

James Arthur Smith [00:23:28]:
100%. It is the same thing. It is modeling the farming inputs to catalyze the natural ecosystem services and create this sort of abundant flywheel of of of nature, of ecology. So, yeah, fish poop is not bad for the environment unless the seed was bad and the concentration of it is in a poorly sited environment where there is not a a significant, you know, tidal fluctuation or current Mind or, b, a symbiotic partnership. But in natural systems, fish poop, just like on land, is fertilizer. It boosts the availability for other, organisms to to survive. There’s significant swaths of the ocean of this planet. Offshore environments generally are so low in nutrients that you cannot farm scallops, shrimp, scallops or mussels or oysters or or seaweeds.

James Arthur Smith [00:24:36]:
There’s just it’s a low nutrient environment. If you introduced fish to that environment, fish poop to that environment, all of a sudden you start to create a, the, the base nutrient level for some of those organisms, and you can actually create these sort of fish aggregating or fish attracting, devices by having a fish farm in the open ocean. Mind this has been quantified, you know, with farms like the CHEK kampachi farm that we work with in Hawaii that’s has these open ocean nets, you know, at over 200 feet of water. These these net pens are floating out there with tons of current Mind in Nick environment that nobody used to go fishing there. Nobody used to frequent there. You look at the environmental impact studies that they did in the environment before. There was not much there. And on the sea floor, it was not much there.

James Arthur Smith [00:25:25]:
Today, it started to create a fish Practitioner device Mind fishermen are regularly going there to go fishing because in and around that environment there’s now structure and habitat and nutrients to support a new ecosystem.

Nick Urban [00:25:41]:
That’s amazing. You’ve probably heard this before, James, but when must saves been 5 or more years ago, I came across headlines saying that wild caught seafood Mind, specifically, I think it was salmon, is higher in mercury Urban the farm raised equivalent. Is there truth to that?

James Arthur Smith [00:26:01]:
Yeah. Depending on the feed that the farm raised salmon are eating, it is, it will either have an increased bioaccumulation of mercury or a decreased level. So the salmon farming industry really only matured in the 1980s. The very first, very tiny attempts at at farming salmon Mind top end in the 19 seventies. And what they did at the beginning is they just took the bait fish, the sardines Mind anchovies, and and fed those to salmon. And as a result, the salmon in the wild and the salmon in the farms had very similar nutrient content. But then when they started grinding them up and they saw that there was increased levels of whatever was in the bait fish. So they were starting to bio accumulate, higher concentrations of both positive and negative things, whether it was omega threes or mercury and other pollutants that were in the environment.

James Arthur Smith [00:27:07]:
The industry in general, led by the UN initiative to increase sustainability and of farming fish farming in general, and reduce impact on forage fish, on bait fish to feed CHEK, said, hey. You guys need to find a better system than just feeding them wild sardines, anchovies, and anchovies. So what a lot of people in the industry did was started using the most low code, form of of proteins and and fats, which is our industrial grown commodity, canola oil Mind soy protein. And canola oil and soy protein do not have high levels of mercury in them. So when they started using those feeds, the concentration, the bioaccumulation of mercury went down significantly. So, fish that are fed soy and corn are going to have much lower levels of mercury, but they’re also going to have an imbalance of those omega threes and omega sixes. Let’s just call it a culture 1.0 was like feed them bait fish. And then 2.0 was let’s feed them subsidized corn and soy.

James Arthur Smith [00:28:22]:
And now we’re in Mind 3 0, which is let’s feed them the proper nutrients that they need so that you don’t have to give them EMS approximate amount. Because by the way, those fish that they were feeding the canola and the soy, they also ended up having inflammation in their gut, and they’re more susceptible to disease because their their immune systems are compromised, Optimization. And so they started feeding them preventive antibiotics. Now we’re like, okay. Well, we’ve got gotta optimize for nutrition to really boost the immune systems of these animals to begin with so that we don’t have to give them antibiotics. And how do you do that? Well, looks like increasing EPA and DHA has a significant impact on reducing inflammation. And if done right, paired with right proteins, you can actually remove those corns and soy. And so what we’re seeing right now, what Cetopia is doing is working with farms that have been doing commodity aquaculture and saying, hey.

James Arthur Smith [00:29:13]:
There is a market that wants to pay for more product more production Mind is willingness to pay the cost for the more expensive algae and soldier fly proteins because we want more nutritious fish that has the right balance of omega threes to omega sixes. And so that’s kind of 3 point code where we’re at today is trying to create enough aggregated demand for more farms to make these Practitioner. Because a lot of EMS, they’re like, they’re not getting any pushback from their buyers. There’s plenty of buyers out there who are saying, Hey, just keep bringing the price down and we’ll keep buying more. And, you know, the Costco’s of the world and the big in grocery store chains, they’re not disclosing the details of what’s in the salmon, what it is fed, and what the nutrient contents are. They’re just saying, hey, can you lower the price?

Nick Urban [00:30:02]:
So the issue with, farmed is, yes, it might be lower in mercury, but you’re gonna be higher in omega Nick, and I assume that these labels don’t have to disclose. They also add antibiotics. Maybe they do, but you’re not it’s not a clear cut winner between wild cut or factory farmed for your for most things you find in the grocery store. And you probably are gonna have lower levels of selenium in the factory farmed, like, your average factory farm. Again, these are all, like, averages. So you’ll probably have higher levels of protective selenium in the wild caught than you would in your average factory farmed.

James Arthur Smith [00:30:44]:
Look. We’re making big generalizations here, and that’s part of the problem. It’s a slippery slope to start making generalizations, but that that’s also part of the problem in that the seafood industry is not held to be a same accountability on nutrition labels that you see in other industries because it’s almost impossible to do with wild caught seafood. You take a sample of 1 wild caught fish Mind these are the nutrient facts associated. That’s gonna be very different to another fish caught in the exact same net. It varies so significantly, and that’s why we’re in this unique space where you don’t see other companies doing, you know, certificate analysis on every lot for mercury or whatever, because they just can’t scalably do that with every fish. Whereas in a controlled environment with fish being raised on the exact same feed in the exact same environment, we have figured out to assign it how to predict that. So there’s always unknowns with the weather and whatnot, but but the practices of farming is what allowed civilization to evolve to the point where we are today probably needing a correction.

James Arthur Smith [00:31:49]:
It isn’t the the pendulum swing of of population growth, but CHEK the reality is farming creates more predictable outcomes Mind wild caught extraction is not what fueled, you know, the growth and and stability in in society. You know, there used to be market based hunters, but that was replaced by farmers because we killed all of our bison. And that job as a market based hunter went away, and it was a lot more predictable and scalable to farm. We’re learning how to do that in the ocean. Aquaculture got a bad name. Farm fish got a bad name because the very first farms to scale got money from big ag, and big ag used the exact same business model to produce giant monocultures using, you know, these sort of protections with antibiotics or not, but it’s not the only way. There are farms doing things in a beautiful way. And it’s our job to celebrate those farmers and educate people about specific farming practices.

James Arthur Smith [00:32:58]:
Institute multi tropic aquaculture, IMTA, algae based feed through circulating aquaculture systems. These are sort of niche terms in the aquaculture space today, but I believe 10, 15 years from now, it’ll be as commonplace as asking for cage free grass fed grass finished pasture raised regenerative beef and chicken.

Nick Urban [00:33:21]:
James, this also makes me think that the headlines that come out about this fish having this level of nootropics, this level of toxins, it’s very easy to manipulate that data and just check, say, these particular 3 farms or these particular locations, and you can kinda like Ancel Keys in his 7 country study to villainize fat. You can just really twist the data to make it support whatever agenda it is that you want to further.

James Arthur Smith [00:33:48]:
Yeah. Especially in a day and age when in the United States, we still have a relatively healthy, albeit shrinking, wild caught fishery that has a huge budget Mind they are threatened for real reasons. I mean, you have communities that are dependent on wild capture fisheries. These are real people, thousands and thousands of people whose livelihood depends on it. And in some instances, they’re well organized because for generations, they’ve been deeply ingrained in politics and and policy, and farmed seafood is perceived as a threat. So it’s very easy for people to just, fund scientific data research studies documentaries that skew the data. I’ll I’ll give you a really concrete example. I used to work at a farm in Mexico that was producing some of the best yellowtail in the world, you know, algae based feed, low density, deepwater farming, just beautiful.

James Arthur Smith [00:34:48]:
You know, swimming in these turquoise waters with thousands of these friendly fish that would code rub up against you Mind just just feeling so part of the solution. I’m really proud of what we’re doing. And another farm came to that same part of Mexico and started raising the same species, and yet they were using copper based nets and inferior feed and inferior handling. And Monterey Seafood Watch, which is, by all means, 1 of the, you know, most respected certifying bodies or, or auditing Body, they gave a rating on farm raised yellowtail from Mexico that lumped both of our farms in the exact same bucket. Even though our farm is using totally different feed, totally different, farming practices resulting in a very different nutritional fish and different environmental impacts. And to dump the bulls in the same generalized bucket had potential to ruin the entire business. How do you get consumer to pay for a better quality fish if the, like, the rating systems and general public thinks that they’re all the same? We have to get beyond these generalizations that all fish raised in a certain country, all farms in a certain country are exactly the same. There are outliers.

James Arthur Smith [00:36:13]:
There are these really cool cooperatives. Oftentimes, you know, female led cooperatives that are doing extensive farming. Extensive farming is such a cool thing. The opposite of intensive farming. Extensive farming, you generally don’t even feed these organisms. So we work with this collective of shrimp farmers in South Vietnam and they literally are being paid to reforest mangroves and then they work with a hatchery that releases a native species of shrimp, black tiger shrimp, into these, mangrove ponds, and they don’t feed them at all. They literally are just in the, mangroves foraging for and eating the natural diet. And at certain full saves and and new moves, the the tide gets such that they can create these other little canals and corral them and harvest them.

James Arthur Smith [00:37:09]:
And then they sell them to us in a premium, a premium product that helps reinforce these mangroves. There are no inputs into these shrimp. This is literally like helping reforest mangroves and raise these shrimp in a totally pristine way. So to think that shrimp from Asia is bad is not thinking deeply enough. It’s what specific farm because granted there are farms doing just the opposite doing intensive farm shrimp that are going in and bulldozing mangroves and building these ponds and feeding them white tiger white leg shrimp, which is totally different species Mind feeding them antibiotics. And it’s the opposite. It’s degradating the environment. It’s producing an unhealthy product.

James Arthur Smith [00:37:55]:
We have to know where the farm is, but also what did they eat Mind how were they raised Mind who did it and when did they harvest them?

Nick Urban [00:38:06]:
A 100 years ago, you didn’t have organics like you do today. You didn’t have grass fed, grass finished. And the general consensus around seafood is that regardless of where you get it, whether it’s, like, processed seafood or it’s fresh, it’s all healthy. It seems to me that that seafood in general is just a couple decades behind the land based meat culture where, like you’re saying, in the near future, we’re gonna have all these other keywords to look for on the labels. But for now, it seems like the tides are are turning unintended. And the best way to go about this is to choose the right sources of seafood. And just because the tide hasn’t turned all the way yet, seafood is still viewed as healthy. You might not be getting what your chronometer or nutrient calculator online says you’re gonna get, say, the zinc level or selenium from seafood?

James Arthur Smith [00:39:01]:
Yeah. That’s such an interesting analogy. We do have these understandings of like the Mediterranean diet that seafood is so healthy Mind that these blue zones where people ate a lot of seafood live, you know, to be centenarians. The nutritional quality of those of that seafood is different though today, you know, than it was when those Centurions were in their twenties, you know, in thirties, forties. I believe that there are great examples of the ocean’s ability to bioremediate and to clean and recreate abundant ecosystems. But we have so much microplastics and DDT and these other forever chemicals that are persistent for a long time. It’s gonna nature will adapt and figure out ways to solve this, you know, from radiation to all these the the nature finds a way to break this stuff down. But it takes a long time.

James Arthur Smith [00:40:09]:
In the interim, it’s showing up in our blood, in placenta, in testicles, microplastics are showing URBAN the interim, you know, our household, we’re just very mindful of mitigating exposures and empowering as much as we can our our our food to be medicine. And it’s interesting to to talk about, the bioavailability of omega threes in fish compared to to supplements. I’m sure you know a lot more about this than I do, but I feel vital when I eat sushi grade seafood. I feel like the nutrients are just immediately available to me. And I don’t feel that way eating canned tuna, and I don’t feel that way just taking omega 3 supplements. Yeah. I think there’s something to do with the the form of those, the oxidation of of those omega threes, that trans translates to whether or not your body is able to assimilate that and use that in an efficient way.

Nick Urban [00:41:14]:
Yeah. Exactly. I mean, the traditional fish oil supplement comes in ethyl ester Performance, well, utilized by the body by any means. There are better versions like the triglyceride form, and certain fish naturally have it in the phospholipid form. I believe krill oil does as well. I also look at that, and the omegas, especially omega 3, get a ton of attention. And I also, at the same time, wonder if it’s the actual omega threes making you feel vital or it’s 1 of the other related fatty acids, the other odd chain lipids. There’s 1 called c 15, and a company called Fatty 15 now produces this.

Nick Urban [00:41:55]:
And it’s present in some certain seafood naturally, and they’re showing that it has a lot of the benefits. Like, some of the research around omega threes is conflicting. Some show that it’s great. Some show that it has adverse effects. It perhaps is a metabolite or it’s an other odd chain lipid that’s yielding a lot of the benefits, but it could also be something like 1 of the other nutrients that are much higher in seafood that you can’t easily get from most other foods. I personally think that’s 1 of the main reasons to include seafood in the diet is that it helps round out nutrition profiles. And I’m sure you know better than I do what nutrients are present in larger quantities in seafood than, say, meat or other animal based land foods?

James Arthur Smith [00:42:39]:
I mean, you’ve hit on a couple of, like, seleniums, but, you know, vitamin a and vitamin d, there’s a there’s a handful of nutrients and and mic macronutrients. I’m not an expert on nutritionist in this regard, but I know firsthand anecdotally that seafood for me, for my blood type, works really, really well. My wife, on the other hand, you know, she she is a red meat eater. She she always would choose that over fish, but my daughter and I like seafood works for us. It works for our body type. Something to do with our genetics.

Nick Urban [00:43:13]:
1 of the components of raising seafood that we haven’t discussed, but we are talking about offline is the way that the animal ends its life. And I’ve explored this a bit when it comes to factory farmed meat and the higher that stress levels, those lead to adaptive selection where certain microorganisms and pathogens become more prevalent, and the microRNA within that meat contains information biological information that when we consume it within 15 minutes, it’s detectable in our bloodstream, and it acts as epigenetic switches turning on and off the expression of certain genes. And I learned today, I had no idea, it saves sense, that seafood is similar in that the way it lives out its final minutes, hours, maybe day impacts the overall, like, longevity of the product Mind probably the health benefits and health effects of its consumption.

James Arthur Smith [00:44:15]:
I didn’t know about this RNA, but it just makes so much sense than the epigenetic, switch of it. The smell of fish being fishy is unfortunately a byproduct of years years of disrespectfully killing fish and disrespectfully handling fish. And when I say disrespectfully, I mean, you’re not respecting the life that was in that if you are allowing it to get fishy. Fish do not smell fishy in the ocean. That association of fishy fish happens because it’s starting to oxidize, because it’s starting to go bad because you created either either a petri dish environment or a combination of the increased amount of lactic acid that built up in that fish in the way that it died or fought or was asphyxiated. They do have arteries like you and I and babies, but they also have this bloodline, these areas where blood transfers through the muscle Mind a different way than than we do. And you can see it’s called a bloodline, and the thickness of the bloodline on 2 different fish caught in 2 different ways will be built very significantly different. And with species like tuna that are warm blooded, they will actually burn their fish.

James Arthur Smith [00:45:23]:
It’ll turn it’ll turn totally black depending on how much it thaw when it died. Japan, for example, they actually noticed this, like how you could grade the tuner just by putting a drilling a hole Mind doing getting a coarsened blood on the tail and also like up near the midsection and seeing how thick the bloodline was and the color of that bloodline, how much lactic acid built up. That was a direct correlation to a, how that fish fought and died and how stressful it was. And b, how much fat is gonna be left? Does it burn throughout those fat reserves? And how long is it going to last? How quickly is it gonna get fishy? And how quickly is as are those, fragile long chain omega 3 fatty acids going to oxidize? So they started experiment with different ways of killing the fish as quickly as possible. A, you wanna catch this Nick as possible. So a tuna that’s caught on a on a line and fought for 6 hours is so burnt. You could literally take something from being worse premium sushi grade, you know, Toro to being cats if you don’t catch it quickly. But CHEK, b, they also had to optimize for how do you cool the fish down, relax the fish, get that lactic acid out of that fish.

James Arthur Smith [00:46:40]:
And 1 of the technologies developed is called techno techniques. It’s called EKG, and it’s a practice of removing the blood from the fish as quickly as possible to get that lactic acid out. And so what they do, sorry for the vegans in this audience, but it’s pretty graphic, is they will first spike the brain Mind they’ll they’ll put a spike into the brain, and then they’ll throw that’ll push push a metal wire down the, the spinal code. And that help that a, kills the brain and then kills the, the nervous system so the fishes stops moving and stops feeling. And and then but the heart is still beating. And while the heart’s still beating, then they will put it a couple of incisions behind gills where all blood goes through and out the tail, and they will hit the heart will keep they don’t pump its own blood right out, and then they throw it into an ice bath. But they’re doing it with the intention of trying to get the lactic acid out as possible. And when they do it right, it is optimizing for longer shelf life, reduced lactic acid.

James Arthur Smith [00:47:43]:
But when they’re really coordinated, they’ll take a fish from swimming in a relaxed environment to bringing dead lead out on ice within a minute. And that’s a relatively humane way compared to that fish fighting on a hook and line for an hour or 2 hours or longer, and then bleeding up. I’ll give you another example of a farm that we work with where they’re actually raising fish in these nets where they’re really they’ve lived there for a year and a half, 2 years, sometimes longer, being fed a diet or totally comfortable with the environment or relaxes. Divers clean their nets. They’re getting fed a healthy diet. When they harvest them, they’ll use a big pump, a a tube, and they’ll pump the fish into the well tank of a larger boat. And that that tank is full of highly oxygenated water. And that highly oxygenated water has so much oxygen that, after they went through that tank, through that pump, and they’re a little bit confused and a little bit stressed out, they go into this super hot, auction rich environment, and they actually relax very quickly.

James Arthur Smith [00:48:45]:
They’re exposed to this environment, so that their heart rate comes down and they relax, relax, relax, relax. CHEK they’re totally relaxed, they get kind of ushered into a corral CHEK 1 fish at a time goes through this narrow canal. And there there’s an automated system that spikes them, leads them, and does the EKGMA.

Nick Urban [00:49:04]:
I love that. It’s obviously a bit more expensive than going through the traditional route. I wish more companies and farms around the world would do this, and it’d be really cool to see a large scale comparison between fish caught the traditional way versus these methods to see how the meat compares everything that’s in it and potentially isn’t in it as well. James, I wanna talk more about Seatopia in a second. Before we do, a couple other things for you. If you were, say, out of the country Mind you couldn’t get a Seatopia package delivered to you and you were tasked with organizing a seafood dinner, how would you go about that to get decent quality or greater seafood?

James Arthur Smith [00:49:50]:
I would start with finding what farms are in that country that I’m at Mind asking them what is in their feed? What do they feed them? And that information alone is a good start because if it’s corn and soy, they’re probably gonna be using antibiotics as well. If they’re using microalgae Mind other innovative proteins, I would say, hey, that’s a farm I definitely wanna try. And then I would ask if I can come and visit. And you’d be surprised. A lot of these farms that are doing things right are stoked to have people come visit. Doing things wrong, it’s a little different story.

Nick Urban [00:50:29]:
Well, sadly, just about every form of seafood I’ve gotten from a bunch of different local grocers smells and tastes quite fishy, which is 1 of the main deterrents for me for most of my life was just the smell and, like, the the fishy taste. I was also concerned about the whole defrosting process. The number 1 place where people go wrong is they just toss it in hot Urban, and it thaws too fast Mind you don’t ruin it per se, but you lose a lot of the magic.

James Arthur Smith [00:50:58]:
That’s what it takes to make a great meal. Just a little bit of planning Health. Little bit of, like, the chefs call it mise en place, prepping these things ahead of time, making, you know, slicing the tomatoes and the cilantro and these little things ahead of time and having everything all prepped and ready. And then, you know, you go and fire up the stove or the oven and and you have everything ready. That intention, you know, with seafood often means that I transfer that fish from the freezer to the fridge, wrap it in the special tuna paper ahead of time, and let it defrost nice and slow. And I check on it next morning and change those paper towels and make sure that it’s dry to avoid creating that sort of petri dish environment. You don’t want your fish sitting wet. You don’t ever want your proteins wet.

James Arthur Smith [00:51:42]:
They should always be dry. You don’t wanna create a petri dish environment for your proteins. Dry aged meat gets better over time because it’s cold and dry, not cold and wet. And the same thing is true with your fish when you’re defrosting it. You want it to be dry dry dry and you want it to be wicking moisture. If you’re gonna do an accelerated, defrost don’t do it under hot water. Do it under ice water. Please.

James Arthur Smith [00:52:06]:
That’s the you know, if you are in a hurry but it is better if you do it slow. It’s also looked at, we’ve had a lot of sushi chefs will say that they only use fresh fish Mind the reality is a lot of them are required to use frozen fish. You know, if you’re in the United States, the FDA has a regulation on the parasite destruction protocol for for sushi bars is that if it is wild caught seafood, it’s supposed to be frozen before consuming to kill parasites. Freezing fish doesn’t result in a mushy fish if you’re using Podcast freezer or super freezer. Mushy fish results because you’re, low temperature or or not low enough temperature freeze means that freeze slowly and or fluctuating temperature. So, like, the freezer above your fridge, your home freezer has a auto deicing. And that fluctuation in temperature CHEK it deices, the ice that’s, you know, in your freezer is melting, while also the ice crystals that are inside the fish are expanding and contracting. Every time they expand and contract, they’re cutting through and making Mind cutting those muscle fibers and the delicate tissues of the fish, and it’s gonna be brittle.

James Arthur Smith [00:53:19]:
And then when you finally defrost, it’s gonna be mushy. So we tell our customers, don’t refreeze our fish. This was blast frozen at peak freshness using a super freezer or a nitrogen freezer. Put it in your freezer. If you’re gonna use it sushi grade, use it within the 30 days, you know, transfer it to your fridge the day you’re gonna use it or day before you’re gonna use it. If you’re not planning on using it, like you’re going out of town or whatever, put in a deep freezer, like the frushers that you have in your garage, the top loading ones. The ones that do not have auto de icing, they build up ice around the Outliyr. That’s actually a good thing because that stable temperature is going to preserve delicate sushi grade seafood longer.

James Arthur Smith [00:54:03]:
You just have to handle see the water content fish Mind the muscle fibers in fish are very different than the muscle fibers in the water content in meat or chicken, for example.

Nick Urban [00:54:13]:
I have 1 more question on topic for you, and then we’ll wrap this 1 up. When you go out for seafood, saves, sushi particularly, are you using anything to help combat against potential of parasites, such as increasing stomach acid with a supplement or apple cider vinegar or anything like that?

James Arthur Smith [00:54:37]:
Full transparency. After over 10 years of working in the industry, I I have a lot of friends that are chefs, and I’ve been able to work with very well regarded Michelin star chefs. And I generally only go to restaurants now where I actually know where they’re sourcing from Mind a lot of my uses, supply to Mind, you know, CHEK the chefs just go from 1 restaurant to another Urban so I’ve I’ve stayed within my knowledge base. That said if I do go to a sushi bar that doesn’t saves, you know, a 100% product set that I know the source I I’m always you know, there EMS a risk Mind I don’t have that full, arsenal of tools that you just described, but I always double down on sort of the detoxification things like CHEK chlorella and, a handful of other sort of detoxifying sort of, supplements, but that that’s the extent of my sort of biohacker toolkit. Yeah. We also I also like to, by the way, incorporate things like spirulina into recipes. It’s been really interesting to, like, emulsify spirulina into olive oil and make, like, a dressing with that. It’s actually quite beautiful and functional.

Nick Urban [00:55:55]:
Yeah. Some companies use spirulina for the deep green color Urban then chlorella wait. No. Think it backwards. Spirulina for the blue Nick chlorella for the green colors. And they use that as like a natural way of coloring food.

James Arthur Smith [00:56:09]:
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And you can do that in a, in a culinary fashion as Health, and it’s it’s very beautiful and how and saves some function.

Nick Urban [00:56:17]:
Yeah. Lots of function there too. Well, James, thank you. This has been a blast. I’ve learned a lot about the whole process, and I’m rethinking some of the claims I read about seafood given that the quality varies tremendously. If people want to connect with you to give Seatopia a shot, how do they go about that?

James Arthur Smith [00:56:37]: is our website. Please check out, on the Institute. So stuff like that, it’s at Seatopia. I’m personally on LinkedIn. And, yeah. Would would love to to hear from more people. I’m glad to hear that it got you thinking. I mean, that’s the whole thing.

James Arthur Smith [00:56:57]:
It’s how do we get people just to ask better questions.

Nick Urban [00:57:00]:
Yeah. And we set up a special code for my audience if they wanna use, I think it’s URBAN, that will give them a special on their is it first order?

James Arthur Smith [00:57:11]:
Awesome. I don’t know. You probably set that up with with, 1 of my associates. That’s great.

Nick Urban [00:57:17]:
Well, James, what is 1 thing the Seatopia tribe does not know about you?

James Arthur Smith [00:57:23]:
1 thing that Seatopia tribe does not know about me. They probably don’t know that I’m going to be a dad for the Mind time here in the next week or so. That’s exciting. Probably don’t know that, despite the recommendations of all the crew on on my boat, I’ve I’ve jumped in the ocean with with sharks and with and had the opportunity of swimming with killer whales. That was that was cool. I got to play a concert to a Pod of Killer Whales. A concert of 1 being alone, being dragged behind paddle board with a steel drum, and I found that I could communicate to them EMS they’re responding to the steel drum. People might not know that.

Nick Urban [00:58:06]:
Lots of great examples and your passion for Peak life in general shines through. But, James, thank you so much for joining me on the podcast. We’ve been going for a while. Really appreciate your time, and I look forward to seeing what you guys come up with next.

James Arthur Smith [00:58:22]:
Thank you so much, Nick. I really appreciate you asking these questions and helping bring this education to a broader audience.

Nick Urban [00:58:31]:
Thank you for tuning in to this episode. Episode. Head over to Apple Music, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts Mind leave a rating. Every review helps me bring you you thought provoking guests. As always, you can find the show notes for this 1 at Body, and then the number of the episode. There, you can also chat with other Peak performers or connect with me directly. The information depicted in this podcast is for information purposes only. Please consult your primary health care professional before making any lifestyle changes.

Connect with James Arthur Smith @ Seatopia

This Podcast Is Brought to You By

Nick Urban is a Biohacker, Data Scientist, Athlete, Founder of Outliyr, and the Host of the Mind Body Peak Performance Podcast. He is a Certified CHEK Practitioner, a Personal Trainer, and a Performance Health Coach. Nick is driven by curiosity which has led him to study ancient medical systems (Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Hermetic Principles, German New Medicine, etc), and modern science.

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Music by Luke Hall

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