The Free Whole Foods Seafood Service You Should Know About

According to a study by Eating with the Ecosystem, over 1,000 types of fish can be found between the Canadian Arctic and the Gulf of Mexico. Yet, only a small percentage of these species ever reach the marketplace. Concerns about overfishing have intensified over the last decades due to the effects of commercial fishing, which can reduce the ocean's biodiversity, make coral reefs disappear, and cause harm to marine species. 

One way to do your part to prevent overfishing is to widen your fish horizons by purchasing species that are plentiful and considered sustainable. However, the further away you are from the coast, the harder it can be to access fresh, sustainable seafood outside of salmon, tuna, and shrimp.

Specialty butcher and seafood subscription services — like ButcherBox and Sizzlefish — have increased in popularity over the last few years as more shoppers opt for online grocery shopping and delivery. Sizzlefish offers a wider selection than other top seafood services, delivering over a dozen types of frozen fish and shellfish to your door. But this selection is still small compared to the available (and delicious) species of fish in the sea. 

Whole Foods has a little-known service at the seafood counter that offers a solution to obtaining less-mainstream fish and shellfish. Your local Whole Foods fishmonger can debone, fillet, and give preparation suggestions, but did you know you can call in a special order for your favorite seafood if you don't see it in the display case? 

Whole Food's secret seafood menu

Whole Foods actually offers a greatly expanded seafood selection beyond what's displayed in glass cases. Whether you're looking for sardines to make grandma's famous Sicilian pasta, or barramundi to make pla kapong neung manao (a Thai dish of Asian sea bass steamed in lime juice and chili sauce), you can request it for pickup at your local Whole Foods or even have it delivered to your door. 

It's as simple as calling your local Whole Foods, asking for the seafood department, and requesting almost any fish your heart desires — kind of like a secret menu. The caveat with 'almost' is that Whole Foods stands by its sustainability standards to help "maintain healthy fish populations, protect ecosystems and build a more sustainable seafood supply for everyone." 

These sustainability standards dictate that Whole Foods must source its wild-caught seafood from fisheries deemed sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council Standard or rated either "Green" or "Yellow" by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. As for farmed seafood, they use a third party to verify the seafood is responsibly farmed and meets quality standards. Yes, your requests must adhere to these rules, but that still gives you so many fish in the sea to choose from.

To find what seafood is sustainable and in season, you can search the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch to pick a sustainable alternative — all that's left is to call your local Whole Foods.