When purchasing fish and other seafood, your best bet is to find a reliable high-end grocery store or local seafood purveyor, and look for fish that is wild-caught and sustainable. For the most up-to-date recommendations on sustainable seafood choices, look for the Marine Stewardship Council logo at the store, or check in with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch.
When buying shrimp, there are a few things to keep in mind. Just because shrimp is raw doesn’t mean it’s fresh. Since only 10 percent of the shrimp sold in this country comes from U.S. sources, chances are the shrimp has been previously frozen. Unless you live near a coastal area, “fresh” shrimp likely means defrosted shrimp. We recommend skipping the seafood counter and going straight for the freezer section. There, you’ll find wild shrimp that have been individually quick-frozen (IQF). IQF shrimp are frozen at sea, locking in quality and freshness. Make sure to read the ingredient list carefully; “shrimp” should be the only ingredient listed on the bag or box. (In an effort to prevent darkening or water loss during thawing, some manufacturers add salt or sodium tripolyphosphate [STPP]. Not only are these additives not paleo-friendly, our tasters found an unpleasant texture and taste in salt-treated and STPP-enhanced shrimp.) Finally, look for shrimp with the shells still on; they have more flavor and better texture.
Shellfish like lobsters and crab are all wild-caught and are well suited for a paleo diet as long as they are not processed. For example, canned crab meat often contains additives that are not paleo-friendly. Look for fresh, in-season crab if you can find it. Some other shellfish, such as clams and mussels, are mostly farmed, but are still good options. When shopping for scallops, make sure that your scallops are “dry,” not “wet.” Wet scallops have been treated with a chemical solution to extend their shelf life, which compromises their quality and isn’t paleo-friendly. Dry scallops will look ivory or pinkish; wet scallops are bright white.
CHOOSE: Wild-caught and sustainable
AVOID: Fam-raised, frozen
CHOOSE: IQF frozen, shell-on
AVOID: STPP- or salt-injected
CHOOSE: Dry (ask at counter)