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The top 10 excuses for not eating seafood aren't changing

Here's some ammunition for the next time somebody gives you an excuse for not eating seafood. The problem is, the excuses don't seem to be changing.

Everybody likes being right. But sometimes being right means some sad facts don't change.

In the spirit of that, and to highlight how far the industry hasn't come, I give you the top 10 reasons for not eating seafood, written nearly a decade ago by a younger me.

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The piece popped into my mind at last month's Global Seafood Market Conference (GSMC) in San Diego, where I gave the industry a failing grade on its efforts to find ways to market its seafood.

Sadly, looking at this old column drives home a point: the industry struggles with the same old challenges, years later. Where are the new solutions? If you have ideas, I'm ready to listen.

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You know all the excuses people have for not eating seafood, but clearly we, as an industry, don't know how to address these justifications for shunning fish and shellfish. I am here to help. Below are the top 10 excuses people have for not eating seafood and my suggestion for answering them. Maybe someone can build a marketing campaign around it.

Here we go: The top 10 excuses for not eating seafood – and why they are lame.

10. The oceans are in trouble and fish are endangered. Oh stop it! That is just nonsense and the ramblings of someone who is too lazy to read past the headlines and examine exactly where their seafood comes from. Maybe that’s too much to ask of the average consumer, but if it were some new piece of gee-whiz electronics (iPhone, Xbox, Kindle) you bet they would do their research before purchasing. And for the record, the world’s fish resources are getting healthier every day.

9. Growing up, my family didn’t eat seafood. Really? Growing up, my family didn’t eat filet mignon, but that hasn’t stopped me from ordering it when I go out to eat. It’s just another excuse for not expanding your palate.

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8. Seafood doesn’t fill me up. I love this one. Maybe you don’t need to fill yourself up like a giant Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon. Sure, a nice Dover sole is much lower on the gut-bomb index than a half-pound of cow, but trust me your heart will thank you for the seafood. And if the seafood doesn’t fill you up, that means there is plenty of room for dessert. Strawberry cheesecake, anyone?

7. Seafood costs too much. As with any food item, different varieties have different price points. No worries if you don’t want to spend $18 a pound for king crab legs (although I don’t know why you wouldn’t), there is plenty of seafood whose price is on par with typical beef and chicken favorites. Unless you are serving lots of folks, you rarely need more than a quarter-pound for yourself.

6. Seafood has lots of mercury in it. Really? Do you know anyone suffering from mercury poisoning? I know plenty of folks with clogged arteries and other ailments associated with the overeating of red meat and other fatty foods. C’mon, this is one of those myths that just won’t die. Even if you are worried about mercury – as some pregnant women understandably can be – there is PLENTY of seafood to choose from that isn’t associated in any way with those few species the government says could be carrying higher levels of mercury.

5. My kids won’t eat it. Get new kids. Just kidding. But, really, teach your kids a new attitude about fish. Most kids like tuna fish and fish sticks. Using these two perennial favorites, coax them into trying shrimp, or salmon or crab. You wouldn’t accept them not trying new vegetables, don’t let them get away with avoiding seafood.

4. I don’t know how to buy fish. Who does? We aren’t born with a fish-consumer gene any more than we are born with house-buying genes, but that doesn’t stop people from purchasing a house. As with anything, you have to educate yourself. Ask around. Find a reputable fish market and become friends with the sales folks behind the counter. Take a seafood cooking class. It’s really that simple.

3. I don’t know how to cook it. If that is your best excuse, forget it. There are about a million chefs around the world who do know how to cook seafood very well. Stop into a good seafood restaurant and leave the preparation to the pros. And grow some courage and try cooking it at home, I am sure you can find a DIY video on the web to help.

2. I hate bones. Believe it or not, the majority of seafood is sold boneless. Do I really have to explain that? And as far as I know, no shellfish has bones.

1. The smell stinks up the house. This is the lamest excuse of them all. When you cook anything inside your home, the aroma travels throughout the house. If the only fish you ever cooked was some low-quality fish sticks, you just need to upgrade your shopping list and buy another form of seafood. Lighting a candle is a cheap and effective way to chase away aromas you don’t want.

Share your thoughts. E-mail me at john.fiorillo@intrafish.com.

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