Whole Story

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What’s So Great about Our Tilapia? We’ll Tell You!

Is there that one thing you reach for when you need a quick-fix dinner? Of course there’s the basic boneless, skinless chicken breast and the ever-present pasta. And while these are fine choices, have you ever tried tilapia?  It’s mild, delicate flavor and cooking versatility makes it a family favorite in my house. Take a look at my previous post for some tasty tilapia recipes.

Tilapia tastes great and is simple to prepare but there is also something especially great about tilapia from Whole Foods Market®.

Navigating the Seafood Counter
Whole Foods Market sources tilapia only from farms that meet our unique, industry-leading Quality Standards for Aquaculture. This means we know exactly where our farmed seafood comes from and who is doing the farming. We know where it swam and we know what it was fed...and more importantly, what it wasn't fed.

Here are more details about what makes our tilapia great:

  • They are raised without the use of antibiotics and added growth hormones.

  • Their feed contains fish-processing trimmings instead of wild fish caught just for food; and poultry and mammalian by-products are prohibited.

  • Genetically modified and cloned seafood are not allowed and the industry-standard use of hormones for sex reversal is prohibited.

  • Our producers are required to minimize impacts of fish farming on the environment by protecting sensitive habitats, monitoring water quality to prevent pollution and sourcing feed ingredients responsibly.

  • Added preservatives such as sodium bisulfate, sodium tri-polyphosphate (STP) and sodium metabisulfite are not allowed

No other national grocery store or fish market has standards like these. We’re not fishing for compliments, just doing the right thing to prevent water pollution and other negative impacts on the environment — as well as the overuse of chemicals and antibiotics. So look for the Responsibly Farmed label which indicates the fish has been farmed according to our strict Aquaculture Standards and has been audited by a third party to ensure that the standards are being met.

Looking for organic seafood in our stores? Actually, there are no organic standards for seafood in the US. That’s why you won’t find an organic label on any of our fish, but you will see the Responsibly Farmed label mentioned above. That means the fish was raised and processed to our strict aquaculture standards

The Same School of Thought
Of course, we’re not alone in our efforts to support responsibly farmed tilapia. Our trusted farmer partners are committed too. Check out this video on YouTube about ArtisanFish, one of our likeminded partners. Their farm, located deep in the heart of northern Peru, uses the best practices to farm their signature Peruvian Blue tilapia for a thicker, more flavorful fillet.

What standards are important to you when you’re shopping for seafood?



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Bob Hess says …

Do you have a market in the Myrtle Beach, SC area?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@BOB - We have a few locations in South Carolina but not one currently in Myrtle Beach. You can find a list of our stores at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/list to see which location is the closest to you!

Tiffany says …

I personally put the fish to the test. I bought a whole tilapia from whole foods and I bought some bagged tilapia from another market. There is certainly a difference. I was sold on the fish I purchased from whole foods.

Jessica says …

What species/genus of tilapia do you sell at your stores?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@JESSICA - Since our exact vendors differ, check with your local store to find out for sure.

Maddy says …

Do your suppliers farm in floating cages? I recently tried the Parmesan tilapia (frozen individually vacuumed packed) and it tasted very muddy compared to other tilapia I have had. This must be due to what the fish were eating. I have tasted truly clean tasting tilapia from large retailers and I know their supplier uses floating cages.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@MADDY - You can find detailed info about our standards regarding pens/cages and the seafloor condition at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/sites/default/files/media/Global/Core%20Value/WholeFoodsMarketQS_Farmed-finfish-shrimp_Jan1-2014.pdf.

Sydney says …

My friend went and visited a prison in Canon City, CO and she was told that the prison's fish farm supplies Whole Foods. This turns out to be true, but I'm wondering how farmed fish meet conscious capitalism and are better for the fish.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@SYDNEY - One of our core values is supporting our communities, and that includes the paid, rehabilitative employment of inmates at Colorado Corrections Industries (CCI). The program plays a small but vital role in rehabilitating inmates so that they can learn job skills that can help them contribute to society in meaningful ways upon their release. We’re proud to partner with programs that can help inmates land on their feet.

D Brown says …

How dare WF sell ANY products produced by prison industries. Prison Industries were specifically set up to never be allowed to compete with or enter into the marketplace. This law has been subverted, putting business in direct competition with what is effectively slave labor. This is immoral, unsustainable and unacceptable. Private industry cannot compete with slave labor nor should this exist in the US. Disgusting! Whole Foods seems to continue to discover ways to violate their stated standards.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@D BROWN - One of our core values is supporting our communities, and that includes the paid, rehabilitative employment of inmates at Colorado Corrections Industries (CCI). Inmates employed through CCI are paid for their work, and learn job skills that can help them contribute to society in meaningful ways upon their release. CCI has even worked with a Seattle fishing operation to help place inmates in seafood industry jobs upon release. We’re proud to partner with programs that pay inmates and ultimately help them land on their feet. Tilapia from Colorado Correctional Industries (CCI) is some of the highest-quality tilapia available in Colorado. As with any other vendor, their farmed tilapia meets our industry-leading Responsibly Farmed seafood standards and the facility has passed third-party audits.

Elina J Feliu says …


Sandy peterson says …

Is the origin of one , some, or any of these farms for tilapia China? I'm sure of it. Can't buy it any longer. Hope the world discovers all of this food sourcing soon, in spite of the Congressional bill just passed.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@SANDY - All of our tilapia should be labeled with country of origin on the label. Check with your local store directly to see where their tilapia is from.