The Chickening of America, or Why We Don’t Eat Fish (But Could Eat More)

by Carol A Westbrook

It's Lent. For many people, that means you have to deprive yourself of food that you like to eat, and instead punish yourself by eating fish. In actuality, you are not required to eat fish during the forty days of Lent, devout Catholics and other Christians are only required to abstain from meat on Lenten Fridays. Fish is merely a protein can be conveniently substituted for the missing meat course–or you can eat eggs, cheese, pizza or eggplant Parmesan instead.

Yet some people are so unused to eating fish that when it appears in their diets it is memorable. Eating fish means "Lent." And they hate it.

During Lent we "try" to eat fish, and for many, McDonald's Filet-O-Fish is the answer. Fillet1The company sells nearly a quarter its filling, 390-calorie sandwiches during the six-week Lenten season. Although it contains wild-caught Alaskan Pollock, the sandwich contains only 2.8 oz. this fish (as I calculated from the protein content provided in McDonald's online nutritional information). Since 2.8 g of Alaskan Pollock has only 73 calories and 0.8 g of fat, the Filet-O-Fish's 390 calories and 18.2 g of fat can only be attributed to the bread, tartar sauce, and melted cheese.

I don't eat Filet-O-Fish because I honestly like fish a great deal more than I like bread, tartar sauce and melted cheese. Truly, I love fish. I love eating it in any way, shape or form — from smoked and pickled, to raw, fried, steamed and everything between. For example, while vacationing in Martinique, I had a plate of whole fried ballaboo, a local reef fish with a cute pointy nose that was meant to be eaten whole after deep-frying, sans pointy nose. Yum! (See the picture on the right). But most Americans don't share my passion, they hate fish.

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