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August 01, 2012   Email to Friend 

Celebrate National Catfish Month - Buy American

The lazy dog days of summer provide the perfect time to chow down on catfish, as August marks National Catfish Month. First established in the 1980s, National Catfish Month has celebrated delicious meals from the whiskered freshwater fish for more than 20 years.

When selecting a scrumptious filet to prepare, nothing compares to catfish grown and produced right here in the United States. Alabama’s Catfish Farmer of the Year Kent Houlditch produces channel catfish in 250 acres of water at his Greene County farm.

“As a producer, it’s important to me to make sure that what we’re putting on dinner tables is safe to eat and affordable,” Houlditch said. “I know first-hand what goes into a grain-fed catfish, and I know the quality of water our fish are raised in. At the end of the day, I can hang my hat knowing that I’m raising the best fish I can.”

Catfish is a good source of protein and contains omega-3. But in addition to being part of a healthy diet, it also an important part of Alabama’s economy. Currently, the state boasts 200 catfish farms and ranks second in the nation in catfish production, with only Mississippi producing more.

However, catfish production in the United States has declined in recent years. Increased foreign competition and different standards for imported catfish are both factors making it difficult for U.S. catfish farmers to continue on. According to research from Auburn University, Alabama’s catfish farming has declined 4 percent since last year. The same research shows a decrease in national catfish production of almost 50 percent in the past 10 years.

One way to support Alabama’s catfish farmers is to buy only domestic catfish. U.S. catfish farmers fulfill strict government standards and follow stringent guidelines to provide healthy, nutrient-rich products. When ordering at a restaurant or purchasing from a local grocer, be sure to purchase U.S. farm-raised catfish.

While frying is the traditional cooking method, catfish is very versatile. It can be blackened, broiled or grilled. It can even be formed and baked into patties or used in chowders and dips.

For creative recipes using catfish, visit USCatfish.com.

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