Thursday, February 6, 2014

Snowy Atlantic cod all the way from Iceland, arsenic in food and more

Cod two ways. Fresh, wild-caught Atlantic cod coated in a homemade Super Spice Mixture paired with organic whole wheat shells and salted cod in marinara sauce.

Editor's note: Atlantic cod  fed the world for hundreds of years before the wild catch was severely restricted. Now, this wonderful fish is being long-line caught in Iceland, and sold at Costco Wholesale for only $7.99 a pound, along with salted cod from Canada. Today, I also discuss arsenic in food.


You have to love Atlantic cod, a wild-caught fish that turns snowy white when cooked and flakes beautifully.

This is the fish that fed the world for centuries. The U.S. commercial catch collapsed in the mid-1990s.

Now, Costco Wholesale in Hackensack is selling Atlantic cod from Iceland ($7.99 a pound), where it is long-line caught by a sustainable fishery, replacing the Pacific true cod I've been buying for a couple of years.

Costco also offers 2 pounds of Cristobal-brand salted cod fillets from Canada for $11.99 -- less than $6 a pound.

My two-cod dinner ended with a salad of Earthbound Farm Organic Spring Mix with ripe pear and shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese.
Salted cod with cabbage and collaloo, which is similar to spinach, served with mashed sweet potatoes with extra-virgin olive oil, a little salt and a touch of cinnamon.
Fresh cod fillets are meaty and break into big flakes.

Every spice you have

I squeezed fresh lime juice on the cod fillets, coated them with a Super Spice Mixture and baked them at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.

For the spice mixture, I start with Wick Fowler's 2 Alarm Chili Kit, and add every spice and dried herb I have at home, including chili powder, garam masala, garlic powder, five-spice powder, dried onion and black pepper.

I make a big tub of the spice mixture and keep it in the refrigerator to coat fish, chicken, beef and pork.

Shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano add flavor and texture to organic brown eggs from Costco, served here with leftover organic brown rice, one of my favorite bread substitutes at breakfast.

Say cheese

Costco Wholesale still has the best price in North Jersey for wedges of Parmigiano Reggiano, the hard, reduced-fat cheese that is one of Italy's great culinary gifts to the world.

Costco's Kirkland Signature cheese, aged 2 years, is $11.79 a pound. Costco also sells this cheese shredded.

We recently purchased a 10-pound bag of sweet potatoes at Costco for $7.99 a pound, but came across an old receipt that showed the same 10 pounds cost only $4.99 before Christmas.

On Monday, I picked up three 32-ounce bottles of
Classico Traditional Tomato & Basil pasta sauce for $6.79 or about $2.26 each, but these bottles hold about 6 ounces more than those sold in supermarkets.

Kirkland Signature Marinara was $7.99 for three 32-ounce bottles. Neither brand has added sugar.

I also picked up another 12-pack package of Kirkland Signature Roasted Seasoned Seaweed from South Korea for $7.89.

Each of the packages, larger than what is sold at Korean supermarkets, weighs six-tenths of an ounce. 

The thin, crinkly sheets can be eaten out of the package for a snack or used to wrap rice, barbecued beef or raw fish.

Organic whole wheat shells from Whole Foods Market with salted cod and fresh chopped garlic in bottled marinara sauce with added extra-virgin olive oil, red-pepper flakes and dried herbs.

Another great fish sold at Costco Wholesale is Alaskan sockeye salmon -- smoked and sliced -- used here in a frittata with cheese, sun-dried tomato and Kirkland Signature Basil Pesto, above and below.

Arsenic in food

The March 2014 issue of Consumer Reports says the Food and Drug Administration "has found arsenic levels in rice and rice products comparable to those" found by the magazine in its own investigation.

The FDA also found "another surprising source of arsenic: beer, which sometimes uses rice as an ingredient," the magazine states.

Arsenic is found in white rice and apple juice, as well as beer and rice beverages.

The magazine said medium-grain rice from California tended to have lower levels of inorganic arsenic than rice originating from other areas of the United States.

"One way arsenic might enter the food supply is through the use of arsenic-based drugs in feed given to chicken, turkeys and pigs to prevent disease and promote growth.

"Poultry droppings are used to fertilize many crops and can contaminate them with arsenic. And chickens that are likely raised with arsenic-based drugs result in chicken parts that can have higher inorganic arsenic than other chickens," the magazine reports, citing a 2013 study by the John Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. 


Here is a link to the only arsenic food certification agency:


  1. Thanks for helping spread the word on diverse ways that arsenic can enter our diet. is working towards more transparency and labeling regarding arsenic in food and beverages.

  2. Blythe, are there many products labeled as arsenic free?


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