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Jan 24, 2012 01:03 PM

Zimmern in the Buff.

Andrew's looking good, as far as the first episode of Bizarre Food America goes. Does anyone know if he had a gastric sleeve? He seems to have lost a ton of weight, yet at the same time really hit the weights and is lightly sculpted. His Huffman frames don't hurt either. On the food side: that deep fried snapper turtle looks really good. Can this be found anywhere around the NYC area?

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  1. While I used to see snapping turtles sold in Chinatown markets years ago, I never see them anymore. I'm not sure snapping turtle would be legal in NYC. The only turtles I see sold in NYC markets now are soft shells, most of which are farm raised in Taiwan and China. Henry's End in Brooklyn Heights used to have a snapper soup for its game festival. I tried was so finely ground it added nothing, and could just as well have been ground turkey. However, snapping turtle is not a very healthy is loaded with mercury and PCB's, much more so than freshwater fish.

    20 Replies
    1. re: EricMM

      "...loaded with mercury and PCB's, much more so than freshwater fish."

      Only if the water in which it lived is contaminated with PCB's and mercury.

      1. re: John E.

        Mercury is in all our water, since it comes in the rain. Because freshwater bodies are smaller and more limited than the oceans, it gets concentrated more easily there. In the Northeast, there are very few bodies of freshwater that have anything in there that can be safely eaten on a frequent basis. There are many lakes that are completely closed for fish consumption. Bodies of freshwater are not isolated from each other, they are all interconnected within their watersheds. PCB's have been found in fish and turtles from almost every body of freshwater in the Northeast....between the Hudson and the St Lawrence draining the Great Lakes, contamination has spread throughout the region. Since snapping turtles are long lived carnivores/scavengers, that's a long time for lots of contaminants to accumulate.

        1. re: EricMM

          The snapping turtle that started this discussion, the one from Andrew Zimmern's newest television show, did not come from waters in the northeast. You made a blanket statement ('loaded') and my post was to clarify the issue. We do not know that the snapping turtle that Zimmern ate from was 'loaded' with either, or both PCBs and mercury.

          1. re: John E.

            I've eaten fried snapping turtle many times. Sadly, the man who caught them (my grandfather) and the man who dressed them (one of his buddies) and the woman who cooked them (an aunt) are gone to their reward. I recollect it being delicious but not delicious enough to catch, clean and cook said turtle.

            1. re: kengk

              I used to catch them when I was a kid, but we only messed around with the real little ones. We'd play around with them and then set them free. After seeing the Zimmern show, if given the opportunity, I would butcher a snapping turtle and having a turtle fry.

            2. re: John E.

              “All fish tested in Minnesota have mercury…The amount [of mercury] depends on what the fish feed on, how old the fish are and to some degree the water they live” Patricia McCann, Environmental Scientist, Minnesota Department of Health
              So if this is the case with fish, what is in the turtles?

              1. re: EricMM

                I never said there was no mercury in fish OR turtles. There are fish consumption guidelines. Not all Minnesota waters are contaminated with mercury. Mostly, it's northern Minnesota lakes where the mercury came from the emissions from paper mills. It's not like fish caught in Minnesota cannot be eaten. PCPs are another matter, I don't know much about Minnesota waters contaminated with PCBs. Again, I objected to your blanket statement. Your links still does not make that correct.

                1. re: John E.

                  The point that I was making is that regardless of the degree of contamination in the water, snapping turtles, being extremely long lived, especially compared to fish (40-50 year old turtles would not be unusual), and being at the top of the food chain, would have the opportunity to collect the highest concentrations of whatever is present, even in minute quantities. No other fish is going to eat a 4 foot long pike, but it will eventually die...and then get eaten by a snapping turtle.
                  I know you don't care about the above references, so here's Minnesota:
                  My reference was entirely about turtles, not fish. If I was in Minnesota, I'd eat the fish, if I caught one...although I don't like the taste of freshwater fish. I'd possibly even try snapping turtle if I had the chance..its not exactly something I'd have opportunities to eat regularly. But that doesn't change the fact that scientists have found heavier contamination in turtles, in all bodies of water, than in fish. A Minnesota snapping turtle would be far less loaded than a Hudson river snapper, anyone would concede that point. However, it will still have more contaminants than any fish. A quick Google search will show that sea turtles are also heavily contaminated, even though most of them live in pristine waters. Mercury is distributed world wide in rainfall, and PCB's are distributed through the watersheds. If PCB's have been detected in Antarctic ocean waters 1000's of miles away from any sources, PCB's can be found in Minnesota, which is located in a country where PCB use was ubiquitous for decades.

                  1. re: EricMM

                    Wow, you seem to care about this topic a lot. I understand your point, but it was a blanket point.

                    I wouldn't eat anything out of the Hudson River, not even upstream. Your point about PCBs is noted, however you fail to point out the concentrations of either PCBs or mercury. The Minnesota EPA tests waters and issues eating guidelines. I thought I made this point earlier? Just because there are traces of mercury in some waters does not automatically mean the fish can never be consumed by anybody. Minnesota is much less industrialized than is the northeast. The levels of contaminants are likewise at a different toxicity.

                    What kinds freshwater fish have you eaten in which you dislike the taste?

                    1. re: John E.

                      I think you read a little too much into what I was saying. I wasn't saying anything about the fish, it was about snapping turtles. There are 2 major issues of concern with snapping turtles that do not directly apply to the fish situation. The first, as I pointed out, is that since turtles are extremely long lived, and eat everything, including fish that were long lived and at the top of the food chain, they have the potential to accumulate toxins way above the levels of the fish. One of the sites pointed out that mercury is present in all Mn. fish. I agree, so what? when it comes to eating a typical Mn fish. But magnify it exponentially in a turtle, it could reach a bad potential. The second issue is that methyl mercury appears to have different effects on people, depending on its source. The main study showing mercury toxicity on humans due to consumption was based on people who ate whale meat. A later study, done on people in the Seychelles Islands, showed that children and teenagers, with very high levels of mercury due to fish consumption, showed very little if any signs of damage from it, despite their high levels. I have no idea if turtles are as bad as whales or as seemingly benign as fish, but it does appear that the food source of mercury does affect the outcome of high levels in consumers. You're right that I care about the topic. I am a HS biology teacher, with a background in ichthyology and environmental studies, married to a herpetologist with a background in environmental studies who's PhD came from studies of diamondback terrapins. I love fish, amphibians, and reptiles, but I am not so sentimental that I won't eat them...although so far I have not been overly impressed by any reptile I have eaten. I spent my college years upstate, doing lots of fishing, and I've eaten every kind of freshwater fish- pike, pickeral, bass, panfish, walleye. Disliked all of them. Perch are OK, and feral (not recently stocked) trout can be good. But that is just my sense of taste...I grew up in NYC, eating mostly salt water fish. People in Mn love the taste of freshwater fish...its what people are used to. I for one do not obsess any more about contaminants in most of my fish. I wouldn't hesitate to eat a striped bass caught in the lower Hudson. Studies have shown that stripers caught in the lower 35 miles are within legal limits of PCB's. In fact, it was pointed out, during the initial study showing high PCB levels in farmed salmon, that a bass caught in Jamaica Bay had way lower levels, within legal limits, than a typical supermarket salmon coming from Europe. (Don't know what the current levels are.) "Just because there are traces of mercury in some waters does not automatically mean the fish can never be consumed by anybody."
                      You are absolutely right. But I never disagreed with you on that point in the first place. Perhaps it was a blanket point, but I had put that blanket over a turtle, not over any fish.

                      1. re: EricMM

                        Wow again. You really do care about this much more than do I. Web sites do not tell the entire story about all of the waters in Minnesota. IT appears fishing waters and perceptions in New York are much different than in MInnesota. If you believe that mercury is present in every single fish in Minnesota, you're mistaken. I would have to know the source of information of those making such a claim. I know people in the fisheries division of the MNDNR and the Water Quality Division of the MPCA. None of them paint as dire a picture as you seem to. Reality and the internet are often not the same.

                        1. re: John E.

                          I had already given you that information. Here it is again.
                          It comes from the U. of Minn. I don't believe 90% of what I see on the internet. If I'm going to post a link for info, I'll check it first. I don't ever post BS. Again, our interpretations are different. You see a statement claiming that all fish in Minn have mercury as a dire warning. I see it as an objective observation that only involves concern if the level of Hg is high enough to warrant it. Again, I'll repeat:: the whole intent of all my posts here has been about turtles, not fish.

                          1. re: EricMM

                            The link you provided has very little information. The information it does contain is pretty much what I told you. While there is some mercury in some Minnesota waters, there are fish consumption guidelines. There is not a single lake in Minnesota where it is recommended nobody eats the fish. There was no mention of PCBs in that link. That was my other point. The industrial northeast might have PCB contaminated waters, but they are still rare here. Back to my original point. You seemed to claim that all snapping turtles are loaded with PCBs and mercury and that is just not the case.

                            1. re: John E.

                              This is getting boring. Without chemical analysis of each and every turtle in the state or country there is no way to know if each and every turtle carries heavy loads of Hg, PCB's, etc. Its just clear to anybody that being long lived and at the top of the food chain they will always have the POTENTIAL to be loaded, even in waters where the fish themselves are safe.

                              1. re: EricMM

                                FINALLY you wrote something with which I am in total agreement.

                                1. re: John E.

                                  We've actually been in agreement for 99%...I never understood why this was being carried on so long.

                                  1. re: EricMM

                                    The only reason is the one I state in my original repyly to your first post. Here is what started this exchange:

                                    "...snapping turtle is not a very healthy is loaded with mercury and PCB's, ..."

            3. re: EricMM

              I catch snapping turtles in Pennsylvania. Here's what Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has to say:

              "Snapping Turtle Advisory

              Snapping turtle meat has been found to contain only small amounts of PCB’s and is safe to eat without restrictions. Snapping turtles do retain PCBs in their fat and internal organs. If you choose to eat snapping turtles, you can reduce your exposure by carefully trimming away all fat and internal organs and discarding them before cooking the meat or making soup."

              I've always meticulously removed fat from turtle meat, as I was always told it tastes bad (and I never thought to eat any organs). It isn't like beef or pork, where the fat is marbled throughout the meat, but instead is accumulated in distinct yellow-orange blobs.

              1. re: vanyo

                It sounds like the fat of turtle meat does not enhance the flavor like it does with pork or beef, but is more like other game such as deer where as much of the fat is removed as possible because it just doesn't taste good.

                1. re: John E.

                  There's a study here, on metals and PCBs in snapping turtles (and bullfrogs) taken from the Hudson River:

                  Sections 4.1.1 and 4.1.2 discuss findings that seem to indicate muscle meat from Hudson turtles have both mercury and PCB levels well below FDA advisory levels (which, given what I'd expect from the Hudson, I find reassuring).

                  I've never tasted turtle fat. I did once render some and store it in the freezer, and found that it remains soft, almost liquid, at very low temperatures. It had a bit of an odor like cod liver oil. They also have pretty big livers, which I've heard of people eating, but I wouldn't touch it.

                  The problem with deer fat, IMO, is not so much the taste, but that it solidifies to a kinda waxy texture at relatively high temperature. A venison burger with fatty meat develops a wax-like coating shortly after it's off the grill - the fat coats your teeth.

        2. I just want to take this opportunity to say "I HATED him"

          But then as he got more comfortable on camera, I have enjoyed what he has to offer and think he is a standup guy.

          As far as looking at his buff. . . no thanks.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Bellachefa

            The subject line confuses 'is buff' (or looking buff) and 'in the buff'. The topic is that he appears to have lost weight. I don't recall any topless scenes in this episode (he has gone swimming or diving in other shows).

            1. re: paulj

              I was hoping for some naked Andrew Zimmern. I love bald men!

              That said, I have to agree with EricMM. The turtles are probably supercontaminated, sort if like if you were eating shark. Anything at the top of the food chain consumes all the contamination from anything it eats lower down. However, a person will probably not die from eating turtle meat on occasion, as long as one is aware of the risk, go for it. Personally, I'll pass Mercury and PCBs can do some nasty stuff.

              1. re: Jerseygirl111

                "I was hoping for some naked Andrew Zimmern. I love bald men! "

                Me too!!!

              2. re: paulj

                Me too (on being confused with the title). I came here with the same morbid curiosity felt on first viewing ''two girls one cup''.

                1. re: CallAnyVegetable

                  Bet it was a long, long time before you ate chocolate ice cream again.

            2. I have never heard the term "gastric sleeve" before.

              2 Replies
              1. re: pdxgastro

                It's when you have a good portion of your stomach removed. The stomach is formed into a banana shape pouch. While it cuts down on the volume of food, you can still eat more than if it was gastric bypass. I say gastric sleeve because while Zimmern appears to have lost a lot of weight (in a short time), he's also appears to have worked out. IE, he doesn't have the flabby neck & arms you usually get from very rapid weight loss with a bypass. Being a Sleever myself, it was the first thing I noticed. And I should have titled the OP "Zimmern in the Buff". Sorry for the confusing title.

                1. re: David11238

                  Thanks for clarifying. I had never heard of it. So that brings to 3 the types of gastric operations one can have? Bypass, band and sleeve? Wow.

                  And FWIW, I had no problem with how Mr Z look before.