Sardine on Fork

Scared of Sardines

posted by Sarah Curry on 04 February 2013

Here at Fish Navy Films we believe that eating lower on the food chain is like giving mother earth a big ol’ hug. And I like hugs. So I decided to buy some canned sardines to bring to work for lunch. Although I’ve been contemplating writing this blog for several weeks now, every day around lunchtime I kept making excuses on why I needed to eat something else. But today’s the day!


Maybe if I were sitting at an outside café with the wind in my hair, a glass of wine in my hand, and some freshly caught and grilled sardines on the table in front of me, this would be a different story. But I’m not. So let’s see what we’ve got:


can of sardines


One can of lightly smoked sardines in lemon flavored extra virgin olive oil. Okay, sounds doable.


“Wild Caught.” “All natural.” “Sustainable.”  Awesome.


That is, until I see exactly where it was “wild caught.” It’s all the details, eh?


I jump online, and check out a few of the go-to sites:


Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch tells me that the sardines that are BEST CHOICES are the Pacific Sardines caught in U.S. waters. But the Atlantic Sardines caught in the Mediterranean I should AVOID.




SeaChoice gives me similar, but more finely tuned information. Again, wild caught Pacific Sardines caught in British Columbia, or the U.S. (CA, OR, WA), are good choices. These are caught in a purse seine or as bycatch in a midwater trawl.


Where were mine caught? Well, they’re a product of Portugal, so in all likelihood, these are Atlantic Sardines, making them a poor  choice. GOOD TO KNOW. I am going to eat them anyway, because I’m not sure what my other options are … but I definitely won’t be buying this particular brand any more.


But what makes Pacific Sardines a good choice for the environment and your body anyway?


These small schooling baitfish are more resilient to overfishing because they reproduce quickly, and exist in large numbers.  Additionally, when you consume these guys directly it means they’re not being ground up into fishmeal that goes into animal feed, fish feed, and pet food. That, my friends, is terrific news.


Healthwise, they generally contain fewer toxins, like mercury, because of their size and they’re full of omega-3s, and protein. This makes me happy because I’m a semi-veg and need all the protein I can get. And supposedly, they’re delicious.


So I’m going to put mine on some brown rice, and go to town, or…sea.


sardines on brown rice

Final verdict?


A bit pungent, lemony, salty. Definitely fishy. And I have to admit, I couldn’t finish the can.


Other office folks gathered around too and one said that this particular can of sardines was stronger than what she usually eats (and she loves sardines! see picture below). Another said it was better than he thought, although his original comment was ‘musky chicken.’


I still think I’d prefer them fresh from the coast where they were caught – apparently the Pacific Coast- paired with some good wine and good friends.  Or I might toss a can of Pacifics into my backpack the next time I go camping. Feeling adventurous? Here’s a recipe for sardine sandwiches. I double dog dare you!


Loving sardines!


4 thoughts on “Scared of Sardines

  1. Consider trying Ligo Sardines. It’s my personal favorite and among many from Asia – mainly because it doesn’t taste or smell fishy at all. Hard to believe I know. haha it’s the only sardines brand i’ve ever liked and of course catching it myself!

    1. admin says

      I’ll be on the lookout for them! Thanks for the tip 🙂

  2. JjW says

    How low (on the food chain) can you go?

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