It used to be that fat was fat, and fat was bad. Then, we learned about different kinds of fats – some worse for us than others – and then some other fats – the omega-3 fatty acids – that are actually good for us.
Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential because our bodies can’t make them. They’re found primarily in seafood, and they’re thought to play a major role in heart health and brain development.
That has lead to billions of pounds of seafood being ground up and boiled down to make supplements. Are they actually saving our lives? And is it worth emptying the oceans for them?
These are just a couple of the questions that award-winning author Paul Greenberg tackles in his new book The Omega Principle: Seafood and the Quest for a Long Life and a Healthier Planet.
The basic idea of the principle is this: If people are eating a diet that's high in Omega-3’s, they should do so in a way that would balance out human needs with the ecological needs with the planet, and Greenberg thinks it's possible.
"We need to reorganize how we’re getting food from the ocean and from land,” Greenberg said.
He explained that 100 years ago, almost everything we ate from the ocean was wild. Now, more than half of that seafood is from farms, and it's taking a whole lot of smaller fish to feed bigger fish to make these supplements.
"Nearly one-quarter of what we catch in the world is put into fish flour and fish oil," Greenberg said. "What would happen if one-quarter of what we catch stayed into the ocean?"