Birmingham, Alabama. Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Memphis, Oklahoma City, Toledo. What does Charleston have in common with these cities across America?
That’s right … seafood.
Charleston is one of only eight U.S. cities selected to participate in a three-year public health education campaign by the Seafood Nutrition Partnership (SNP), a non-profit seeking to educate the underserved and all Americans about the health and nutritional benefits of seafood.
I learned about this initiative when I joined the local Charleston SNP coalition and sponsored a City Council Resolution, in conjunction with National Seafood Month, declaring October “National Seafood Nutrition Partnership Month” in Charleston.
The Resolution passed unanimously at our September 21 meeting.
Snicker at first at the thought that Charleston, land-locked in Appalachia, decides to focus on seafood.
Then look closer. Charleston is a city at high risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, heart attack, obesity and other health problems that can be prevented. Seafood — in combination with an active lifestyle — can yield positive health benefits to combat these health problems.
Charleston Mayor Danny Jones has promoted activity each summer with Power Walking 150, and City Council President Tom Lane leads the charge for more bicycling opportunities throughout the Capital City. Both of these initiatives help combat our health risks.
But diet is also important, and clearly seafood can have very positive effects.
As an attorney in the insurance business, I’ve spent a lot of my professional career dealing with risk management. And essentially, risk management is at the heart of what the SNP wants to do for the people of Charleston, albeit of a slightly different kind.
Did you know:
n Eating seafood just twice a week can cut your risk of dying from heart disease by 36 percent?
n Seafood is one of the healthiest proteins you can eat because it’s high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which make up the “good cholesterol” you’ve probably heard your doctor talk about.
Few of us grew up where folks ate a lot of seafood, and I don’t pretend to know how to select seafood at the grocery store and then to prepare it at home. But greater awareness of the benefit of seafood has piqued my interest.
The good news is there are a lot of resources available to help. The SNP has a huge variety of recipes freely available online, which are both easy and all feed a family of four for $10 or less (seafoodnutrition.org).
Our local fish markets and grocery stores offer a wealth of knowledge and ideas, too. It doesn’t matter if it’s fresh, frozen or canned — you get the health benefits all the same. If we start now, we can turn the tide and help ourselves and future generations by modeling healthier choices and behavior.
So, how can you manage your risk of the diseases described above? Simple:
n Exercise — walk, work out, ride a bicycle or engage in whatever activity you enjoy.
n Participate in Charleston’s Seafood Week, Saturday, October 17 to Friday, October 23. A number of local restaurants are offering seafood specials or conducting other activities during Seafood Week to encourage customers to enjoy seafood more frequently.
Participating restaurants include Berry Hills Country Club, Bluegrass Kitchen, Ichiban, Mi Cocina de Amor, South Hills Market & Café, Tidewater, Tricky Fish.
n Sign the Healthy Heart Pledge. I have, and I challenge you to join me by taking the pledge.
Seafood can be part of a lifestyle that protects you from catastrophic and preventable diseases. Join me in these common sense steps to be more healthy.
Additional restaurants are encouraged to participate and may contact Asher Agency at 304-341-1669.
Andy Richardson is a citywide member of Charleston City Council. An attorney, he has long worked in insurance-related businesses.