I don’t like tilapia, period. I’ve only had it twice (that I know of) and was not impressed with how it looks, or tastes. Add in the horror stories of how they are raised on an intensive scale, and that’s all I need to choose something else in a restaurant or fish market.
However there are lots of consumers that like tilapia’s taste, versatility, and its affordable price. Also, not all tilapia are raised in disgusting conditions and many people are raising their own tilapia in the burgeoning aquaponics community. This is the good kind of tilapia – raised by people more focused on making food than profit.
There is little, if anything that will convert me over to eat tilapia, but even I have to admit that those fish looked big and healthy. For those who do enjoy this fish, it is important to know where it’s coming from and how it was raised. This is true for all seafood, but with farm-raised, be it tilapia, salmon, catfish or shrimp, there is a huge spectrum in terms of quality, taste and effects on human health.
Here is a promotional video from one of the best known tilapia producers: Tropical Aquaculture Products, Inc. a BAP (Best Aquaculture Practices) certified producer of tilapia, shrimp and other species. Tropical raises their tilapia in salt water, which they say makes for a better tasting product.
It looks like a well-run operation, but still does not change my personal opinion on tilapia. I don’t like the taste and texture mostly, but tilapia may not be that good for you either.
It has been shown that tilapia is high in omega-6 fatty acids, rather than the sought after omega-3. Of course, the Internet has taken this football and ran with it – there is now a ton of stuff online claiming tilapia to be worse for you than bacon! But is that true? Probably not:
The last bit on tilapia being a high risk for invasive species should not be ignored either. As we learned recently, even the “good” aquaculture companies, with BAP certification, have had issues with escaped fish. If you do like the taste of tilapia, try to source it from places that don’t raise them on an industrial scale. After watching that first video, I would consider giving tilapia another try if I could get my hands on aquaponic raised fish.
If you are looking for a similar-looking piece of fish, with a better taste and texture, give farm-raised barramundi a try. Companies like Australis produce a very high quality product that both tastes better and is better for you than any tilapia.