Sat, Jun 14, 2008 - Page 4 News List

Buy smart, choose squid, council advises shoppers

CHEAP AND HEALTHYThe Council of Agriculture touted the benefits of squid, which contains high levels of EPA and DHA, and is cheap given abundant supply

By Meggie Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Council of Agriculture yesterday advised consumers concerned about rising commodity prices to shop smart and buy produce and seafood that are in season, including squid, which right now is in abundant supply.

“The rule of thumb when buying seafood is to buy species that are in season, because they are fresh, offer the best nutritional value and are cheap,” said Wu Shinn-charng (吳信長), a senior specialist at the council’s Fisheries Agency.

Given soaring fuel costs, seafood prices have increased almost across the board, Wu said.

“Two years ago, oil prices were about NT$6,000 per 1,000 liters, but the price has tripled to NT$18,000,” Taiwan Squid Fishery Association general manager Chang Shu-ping (張叔彬) said.

Many smaller and older long-range fishing boats are now docked at harbors because their owners cannot afford the high cost of fuel, Chang said, adding that fuel costs for boats still operating have ballooned to more than NT$15 million [US$492,800] per boat per season.

“However, unlike other fish such as tuna, squid prices are relatively low because they are plentiful — although squid can only be caught in season [around the first half of the year]. There’s no quota on the squid catch,” Chang said.

Which is good news for consumers, because at NT$33.5 per kilogram, squid provides good value for money in terms of nutritional value, he said.

“It is a common misconception that squid is high in cholesterol. While this is true for squid organs [which are usually discarded], squid meat is actually very low in fat [about 1 percent] and contains taurine, an organic acid that helps lower cholesterol levels,” Chang said.

Besides containing 20 percent good quality protein, which can easily be absorbed by humans, squid also contains high levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), or omega-3 fatty acids that are beneficial to brain development in young children, Chang said.

Following the buy-smart rule, the council also encouraged the public to buy Pacific sauries.

“Because of instant-freeze technology, Pacific sauries are cheap and available all year-round. It is also very rich in EPA and DHA,” Wu said.

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