Fun fact: In the 19th century, felt linings for top hats were processed with mercury (often causing high-level poisoning in their owners) thus sparking the idea for Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland character, The Mad Hatter.
Apart from the recitation of nonsensical poetry and deranged tea parties, mercury is a neurotoxin that, when chronically inhaled or ingested, has the capacity to cause permanent brain, lung, and kidney damage. In recent years the issue of mercury poisoning has been highlighted most consistently in regard to the consumption of fish. If you've seen the heart-wrenching documentary The Cove, mercury poisoning is just one reason to scare someone away from seafood altogether. But with USDA guidelines urging Americans to turn to lean protein rather than the oft-unsustainably raised beef, chicken, and pork, seafood has experienced a surge of popularity.
While a quick Google investigation reveals countless resources available outlining which fish have the lowest mercury levels (potentially beneficial when purchasing seafood at the grocery store) ordering a low-mercury meal when eating out is still difficult.
So lets give a big round of applause for the newest app released by The Sierra Club: Safe Sushi. Available free for both Android and iPhone, the app is a comprehensive, user-friendly program indicating what kinds of sushi have the lowest amounts of mercury, and if the fish is sustainably harvested. Bright, clean photos and color-coded indicators make deciding what to order a cinch; especially in a darkened corner of a restaurant.
The worst offenders? Large fish like bluefin tuna, spanish mackerel, and suzuki (Japanese sea bass) have the highest mercury levels, topping out at 0.454 ppm. Small seafood like crab, cockle, shrimp, and abalone have as little as 0.001 ppm, and are often sustainable.
So download Safe Sushi: An effortless way to reduce excess mercury exposure, and an exemplary way apps can function to bring health, awareness, and knowledge to our lives.
Let’s see Angry Birds do that.