Barton Seaver's new cookbook 'For Cod & Country' is a testament to his belief that each and every one of us can help restore the fisheries we depend on by voting with our dollars and making smarter, responsible (and mouthwatering) decisions at the supermarket and in restaurants. Here is his advice on how to shop for fish at the local supermarket or seafood store:


In the supermarket:

  • Look for fish fillets that are shiny and glistening in the light, not pale and dull.
  • Smell the container of a prepackaged fish, look at the date and quality of the display. Seafood should be no older than a day or two.
  • Look for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) logo, which certifies that the seafood is from a sustainable wild capture fishery.
  • Frozen fish can offer some of the best value in the store and be as good as buying fresh fish. New technologies allow fishermen to quick-freeze seafood right after it’s caught making it fresher and easier to transport. Thaw your fish in the fridge, typically taking 6 - 8 hours, under a wet towel.
  • If buying thawed fish, check that the fillets are an even color; anything thawed more than a day before should be avoided.

At a seafood store:

  • Check out the cleanliness of the work area.
  • Ask to smell a piece of fish. The servers shouldn’t let you if they correctly follow the health code.
  • Ask about the fish: When was it brought to the store? When was it thawed? You’re looking for fish that has been thawed as recently as possible.
  • Introduce yourself to the servers, if you build a rapport it’s likely they will help you chose better seafood.

This article was reprinted with permission from

How to shop for fish
How to shop and buy fish at the grocery store. Learn these tips for picking the freshest, safest fish at the supermarket or fish market.