Our goal in featuring a list of 100+ familiar foods on our website was to provide a foundation for the Healthiest Way of Eating. These foods had to fulfill three criteria: (1) the foods had to be superior members of their food group in terms of nutrient content, and they had to play a key role in the diets and cuisines of cultures throughout the world. We did not want foods that would be placed at the bottom of the nutritional totem pole within their food group, and we did not want foods that lacked a history of use and a history of health benefits within traditional culinary practices in different cultures; (2) the foods had to be familiar to the general public in the United States who shop for food at ordinary food outlets; and (3) the foods had to be readily accessible and affordable to the general public in the United States. We did not want cost to be a prohibitive factor in our Healthiest Way of Eating, and we also did not want our website visitors to become enthusiastic about a way of eating composed of foods that did not exist in their local community.
Many nutritious and delicious foods did not make our list due to one or more of the reasons described above. Tilapia was a fish we did not include because it was less consistently available in local markets across the United States and less well-known in North America than the other fish that we initially featured on our website.
Recently, though, tilapia has been growing in popularity. According to the American Tilapia Association, it is currently the 6th most popular seafood consumed in the United States. It is a low-calorie, low-fat fish with a light, mildly sweet flavor, which can be prepared many different ways. Since the tilapia you purchase is very likely to have been farmed, I do believe it is important to purchase tilapia that has been farmed in a country with verifiable quality control systems and without intensive pen and cage methods. Tilapia farmed in the United States would be a top choice here, followed by tilapia farmed in Central or South American countries including Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras and Brazil. On the avoidance list here would be tilapia farmed in China or Taiwan. Although U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines for organic certification of farmed fish have yet to be fully implemented into law, you may find some farmed tilapia that have been certified as organic by other certification agencies, and they would also make a very good choice for your meal plan.