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5 Reasons to Never Eat Fish Again

5 Reasons to Never Eat Fish Again

Fish is a staple of diets throughout the world, but in recent years it’s become an increasingly risky food to eat. You might want to think twice before eating fish again, for these five reasons:

Sustainability
Some fish comes from sustainable, well-managed farms or stocks, but others come from fisheries that are overfished, unsustainable, or badly managed. Some fisheries also kill vast quantities of “by-catch”: unwanted fish caught while trying to catch other fish. The Marine Conservation Society has put together a handy guide on which fish to avoid.

Mercury
Salmon, tilapia, shrimp, and cod contain low levels of mercury, but several other fish, including Gulf tilefish, swordfish, shark, bigeye and ahi tuna, marlin, orange roughy, and king mackerel, have high levels of mercury, and shouldn’t be eaten often (or at all, especially if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding). The Natural Resources Defense Council has a guide to mercury contamination that’s a must-read.

Roundworms
A small percentage of fish that’s sold to the public is infested with a parasite called roundworm, also known as nematodes. Cod and herring are especially susceptible. If your fish is cooked thoroughly, all the worms and larvae will be killed, but if your fish is undercooked, you may become very ill.

Fish Oil May Not Be All It’s Cracked Up to Be
Americans spend more than $1 billion annually on fish oil supplements, and many eat oily fish like salmon, salmon, and mackerel to load up on omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to be beneficial to brain function, growth and development, and to play a part in reducing inflammation. However, it was recently found that in too high a dose, fish oils may increase the risk of prostate cancer by 43 percent. Clinical research also recently found that it’s not as heart-healthy as it’s cracked up to be. You can also get your omega-3s from flaxseeds, chia, canola oil, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds.

Radiation
Since the Fukushima power plant disaster several years ago, hundreds of tons of water contaminated by radioactive iodine, cesium, and strontium have leaked into the Pacific ocean and infected the nearby aquatic life. Radioactive cesium has a half-life of 30 years, meaning that the fallout (literally) could affect Pacific fish for years to come. Distressingly, fish from Alaska and Hawaii aren’t being tested for radiation levels at all.


12 Fish You Should Never Eat (and What To Eat Instead)

This dirty dozen list is made up of the least sustainable, or even toxic, species.

It was not long ago that Americans rarely thought about where their food came from, let alone the impacts of their choices. These days it&rsquos increasingly important to know not only what you&rsquore eating and where it&rsquos come from. From food co-ops, farmers markets, and community supported agriculture (CSA), to whole aisles (and grocery stores) devoted to natural, organic, local and sustainable produce&mdashAmericans and legal protections have quickly evolved to begin averting the worst problems of industrial agriculture. So though the journey to a healthy sustainable terrestrial food system is far from over, it is well underway.

Seafood, however, is more slippery. &ldquoThat&rsquos because it&rsquos the &lsquoLast of the Buffalo Hunters,&rdquo when it comes to seafood says Joe Lasprogata, Vice President of Samuels and Son Seafood Co. &ldquoThe oceans are in some ways the last source of truly wild products, and we need to be careful with those.&rdquo Samuels and Son sponsors Sustained Seas, an organization dedicated to promoting sustainable fisheries via labeling and education. Part of the reason fisheries are in trouble is that consumers didn&rsquot know the impacts of their choices.

Lasprogata says, &ldquoFor way too long there&rsquos been this surprising attitude: Fishermen believed that fisheries belonged to them, and that has led to collapse, over and over again. There was no care, no stewardship. But fisheries can absolutely be sustainable.&rdquo That confusion has continued to spill over into consumer behavior, since some people still make fish-buying decisions based on taste, price, and texture&mdashrather than perceived sustainability, according to a recent study on British Columbian consumer habits.

But it&rsquos extremely important to think about where the fish comes from, because those factors affect not only your health, but also the future of wild fish stocks, which we and countless other species depended on for our survival. &ldquoThere are lots of ways to identify a so-called &ldquoDirty Dozen&rdquo of fish, and it&rsquos crucial to be aware of overfishing, pollution, and bycatch,&rdquo says Marianne Cufone.

Cufone is the Executive Director of Recirculating Farms Coalition, an organization dedicated to creating local land-based produce and fish systems using hydro- and aquaponics, small local systems that avoid the problems of open-water fish farms and industrial agriculture altogether, where the fish waste fertilizes fresh produce. The former Director of the Fish Program of Food and Water Watch, Cufone&rsquos mission is redirecting consumers toward healthy, sustainable fish-eating. She laughs, saying, &ldquoI get a lot of texts from my friends asking me which fish are okay to eat.&rdquo

Cufone stresses that consumers can begin with a list of the 12 Worst Fish, or a &ldquoFishy Dozen&rdquo&mdashcompiled with help from experts.

Here are the 12 fish you should never eat&mdashand what to eat instead.


What Does Chef Say On Barramundi Fish?

The perspective of making a smart point gives rise to have a point of view by chefs. It is because they are the soul reviewers in comparison to its preference.

Well, you would be surprised to know about the fact that every chef has stored their versatility in serving the fish in their styles and flavours.

While performing business, it is mandatory in taking its concern of practising the escape of making the smart move.

By naming some of the mouth-watering flavours, the practice of dealing with funds perform the diligence of the situation. There is a lot to process when it comes to making a supply of concern. With the understanding of chefs, the cost of per fish a pricing task which is always handled with care.


3. You can still have eggs!

Broths don&rsquot have to be light. If you&rsquore one of those that thrive on heartier breakfasts, broths can still do the trick. Adding a good protein and some starch like rice or potatoes can make for a very filling meal. And the easiest way to add some quick protein is to add some eggs. They work well in almost any broth. You can poach &rsquoem right in the broth and they&rsquoll cook in just a few minutes.

So on that note, here are a few super simple broth for breakfast recipes with eggs:

Basic Eggs in Broth

Ingredients

  • 1-2 cups broth of choice &ndash chicken, beef, fish, pork, etc.
  • 1-2 eggs
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Several sprigs parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Bring broth to a simmer.

2. Add in eggs and simmer a few minutes until whites are cooked but yolks are still soft and runny.

3. Top with parmesan cheese, parsley and salt, and pepper, to taste.

Basic Eggs in Broth, Asian-style

Ingredients

  • 1-2 cups broth of choice
  • 1-2 eggs
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, chopped
  • Kale, chopped
  • Soy sauce or fish sauce, to taste

1. Bring broth to a simmer and add in ginger, garlic and simmer a few minutes, longer if you have time, to further infuse garlic and ginger flavor.

2. Add in eggs and kale and simmer a few minutes until eggs are cooked and kale is thoroughly wilted.

3. Season to taste with soy sauce or fish sauce.

Eggs in a Tomato-Basil Broth with Sausage

Ingredients

  • 1-2 cups chicken or beef broth
  • 1-2 eggs
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • ¼ &ndash ½ link sausage, crumbled or chopped into rounds
  • 3-4 basil leaves, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Bring broth to simmer. Remove about a ½ cup to a bowl, mix in tomato paste and return to the broth, thoroughly mixing. Add a little more or less tomato paste, to your liking.

2. Add sausage and cook for about a minute. Alternatively, if you have time, saute the sausage separately in oil for more flavor and then add it to the broth at the end. Add in eggs and poach a few minutes.

3. Top with basil and season to taste with salt and pepper.


Kiersten Hickman/Eat This, Not That!

Sick of the usual meat sauce and meatballs on a weeknight? Our readers absolutely love this beef ragu recipe. Not only is it easy to make, but this dump-and-go Crock-Pot recipe is perfect to prep and freeze for later! The original recipe for beef ragu calls for 1 cup of beef stock. However, if you have any leftover red wine sitting in the fridge that needs to be used, use that instead! One cup of red wine will give the beef ragu a richer taste that can't be beaten.

Get our recipe for Crock-Pot Beef Ragu.


Kiersten Hickman/Eat This, Not That!

Making enchiladas at home is a time-consuming task. Luckily for all of us, there's a delicious solution if we're craving enchiladas but don't have the time to make them. Get out the slow cooker and make this casserole recipe. Don't worry if you have a lot of leftovers—just freeze it and it'll taste just as good the next day.

Get our recipe for Chicken Enchilada Casserole.


Cooking fish in parchment packets ensures moist, flavorful fillets without much fuss

I remember the first time I heard about pompano en papillote, I thought it sounded so fancy. And when I ordered it in a restaurant, the waiter sliced open the parchment with a flourish at the table. Ooh la la.

Since then, I’ve realized that placing fish fillets in parchment envelopes and baking them is actually just about the easiest and tidiest way I’ve found to prepare fish. And it still impresses guests with its flavor and its novelty.

It is just one example of paper-bag cookery, as the “The Oxford Companion to Food” calls it: The method of sealing proteins up in paper with a bit of liquid for moist heat and aromatics for flavor has been used by many cultures for centuries for varying types of foods. Fish may be the classic protein, but most lean proteins can be cooked this way.

I’ve tried this with the classic pompano as well as trout, salmon and cod. The only rule of thumb: The fish should be no thicker than about 1 inch.

I like this way of cooking fish because it accomplishes several goals. The moist heat prevents the fish from drying out, and the steamed aromatics penetrate the fish with flavor. Once the fillets are placed in the folded parchment, they bake undisturbed, so there is no need to worry about breaking up fillets while flipping them in a pan. Finally, I find this method doesn’t fill my house with a fishy scent the way some other methods of cooking fish can.

For success, choose thinly sliced or julienned vegetables, such as zucchini and carrots as I did here. Slicing vegetables into ribbons with a vegetable peeler is an easy way to make sure you have evenly sliced vegetables.

Then, select a splash of a flavorful liquid, such as wine or champagne vinegar. You might also consider soy sauce or citrus. The most important issue is then picking fresh herbs to include. Parsley, cilantro, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves … whatever combination you like. (Fresh is best here, but dry herbs will work in a pinch.) Also, I think a dot of butter atop the fish adds a nice finishing touch.

How you fold the parchment is up to you. I cut a large enough piece to fold over the vegetables, herbs and fish. The length of the paper will vary with the fillet shape and size. I fold the parchment in half and then place the food just on top of that center line, fold the parchment over and crimp the edges to seal it tight without pressing the paper against the fish. The steam needs room to push the paper into a bit of a balloon. (Yes, you can use aluminum foil, but it doesn’t make as pretty a presentation.)

The packets of fish are then placed on a rimmed baking sheet and run in the oven.

While the fish bakes, I clean up my prep work. When the fish are done, the packets are transferred to dinner plates and sliced open with scissors or a sharp knife at the table. (The rimmed baking sheet is virtually spotless, leaving you with dinner dishes and little else to clean after eating.)

When that packet is slit open and a bit of steam rises, it brings that herby aroma to your nose as you dig into piping hot, moist fish set against the bright, tender vegetables and herbs.

Some people make a side sauce to spoon over the fish, but I find that with the right combination of herbs, flavorful liquids and a touch of fat, that’s unnecessary.


Oceanographer (and TED Prize winner) Sylvia Earle (TED Talk: My wish: Protect our oceans) has spent half a century campaigning to save the world’s seas. A new Netflix original documentary about her life’s work sheds light on the environmental impact of the commercial fishing industry and Earle’s crusade to create underwater “hope spots” through her organization, Mission Blue. After watching the film, it’s hard not to wonder: Are any fish still okay to eat? We turned to our favorite aquanaut for advice. Below, check out Earle’s take on wild fish, tuna rolls, and her ideal meal.

To restore the ocean ecosystem, you’re saying we must put an end to overfishing and bottom trawling, which you liken to “catching songbirds with a bulldozer.” Is there such a thing as eating fish responsibly these days?

Except for those living in coastal communities — or even inland if we’re talking freshwater species — for most people, eating fish is a choice, not a necessity. Some people believe that the sole purpose of fish is for us to eat them. They are seen as commodities. Yet wild fish, like wild birds, have a place in the natural ecosystem which outweighs their value as food. They’re part of the systems that make the planet function in our favor, and we should be protecting them because of their importance to the ocean. They are carbon-based units, conduits for nutrients, and critical elements in ocean food webs. If people really understood the methods being used to capture wild fish, they might think about choosing whether to eat them at all, because the methods are so destructive and wasteful. It isn’t just a matter of caring about the fish or the corals, but also about all the things that are destroyed in the process of capturing ocean wildlife. We have seen such a sharp decline in the fish that we consume in my lifetime that I personally choose not to eat any. In the end, it’s a choice.

What if I just want to have a tuna roll every once in a while, as a treat? Would that be so bad?

Ask yourself this: is it more important to you to consume fish, or to think of them as being here for a larger purpose? Today, marine fish are being caught with methods that our predecessors could not even imagine. Our use of large-scale extraction of wildlife from the sea is profoundly detrimental to the environment. We’re using modern techniques capable of taking far more than our natural systems can replenish. Think about it — the factory ships that use enormous nets or log lines, some of which are 50- to 60-miles long, with baited hooks every few feet, they take more than can be replenished naturally, and they take indiscriminately. Worst of all are the bottom trawls that scoop up the whole ecosystem. And most of what’s taken in them is simply discarded. With respect to the ocean systems, they’re just leaving a hole. A huge space that is not going to be filled overnight. It’s not eco-conscious to eat tuna — maybe thousands of plants make a single pound of Blue Fin Tuna. It’s also difficult to replenish that species of fish, as they take years to mature. Not to mention that you’re consuming all of the toxins that the fish has consumed over the years.

Sometimes it gets confusing. We’re told not to eat so many things already — like not to consume cows, pigs or chickens from factory farms for both health and moral reasons. Now you’re saying we shouldn’t eat fish either. Does that mean we should all follow a plant-based diet, for both health and moral reasons?

It’s obvious. It’s not a matter of me saying so. It’s not a matter of opinion. There’s no question that a plant-based diet is better for you and better for the planet. If you ask me, the best thing is a plant-based diet — or a largely plant-based diet, with small amounts of meat coming from plant-eating animals. I’m not saying that you have to stop eating meat, but think about what it takes to make a plant compared to what it takes to make a plant-eater, like a cow, chicken or pig. Even carnivores on land are lower on the food chain than most fish. Think of a tiger or lion or a snow leopard. They eat plant-eating animals. They eat rabbits or deer. So, food chains on land tend to be fairly short. Over 10,000 years, we have come to understand that it’s far more efficient not to eat carnivores. We eat grazers, the ones that we choose to raise, such as cows and pigs. Perversely, many of the animals that are natural grazers, we are force feeding wild fish. We’re taking large quantities of ocean wildlife, grinding them up, and turning them into chicken food or cow food or pig food — or even into fish food.

If you have to eat meat, or rather choose to eat meat, eat animals that eat plants.

So if you have to eat meat, or rather choose to eat meat, eat animals that eat plants. In the case of fish, there are long and twisted food chains — for example, the tuna that eats fish that eats fish that eats fish. We choose to go high up the food chain when we eat halibut or swordfish or tuna or lobster, but ultimately that’s not what’s good for us or for the ocean.

You’ve mentioned that a sea bass can live up to 80 years and that we’re often unaware of how old the fish is that we’re consuming. Why is that important to consider?

We need to consider the bioaccumulation of what’s in the ocean. Mercury concerns exist with good reason, especially when eating carnivorous fish like tuna, swordfish, halibut, and orange roughy. It’s not the smartest thing for our personal health because of what accumulates in these top carnivores over the years. If you want to eat responsibly, not just for your health but again for the health of the planet, know that the longer an animal is exposed to the world as it is today, the greater the chance of accumulating the toxins that now exist within the ocean or within freshwater, or even on land. What farmers choose to grow for consumption — for economic and taste reasons — tend to be young animals, like chickens, barely a year old, not 10-year-old hens. In fact, hens don’t usually get to be that old. We eat cows young — yearlings, sometimes two-years-old, but not 10 or 20 years old. We eat far more animals that are a few months old, not years in the making. But in the ocean, it takes 10-14 years for a Blue Fin tuna to mature, let alone to reach its full potential. So let’s say you take a young tuna, 10-years-old — think of how many fish have been consumed in a 10-year period to make even a pound of one of those wild ocean carnivores.

What about local fishers who depend on fishing as a means of survival?

I do have sympathy for those who have a long tradition of making their living by extracting wildlife. I don’t think they should be targeted as the problem. But even they know that, armed with modern technologies, they have the power to extract far beyond what natural systems can produce. We need common-sense steps to protect feeding and breeding areas in coastal areas. We need to have a system with restrictions, not just be able to take stuff from all places at all times in unrestricted numbers. We have a chance now, because we now know what we could not understand a few decades ago. Smart agriculture may be an option for providing food for people who like to have aquatic creatures. But it has to be done with extreme care and with protection. We need a safe haven for these wild creatures, to recover from what we have already taken, as well as sustain what we might take in the future.

What about catch shares and privatized fish farming?

Those are well-intentioned, but not approaches that I necessarily endorse. I think that the best value for aquaculture comes in closed systems where you recycle water, capture nutrients, and do not let the nutrients that are produced by the fish escape, which is what happens in these open-sea farms. In fact, it can be a problem when you concentrate fish and don’t allow them to move around. Or even when they have these open pens, which they are proposing to float widely in the ocean. These are approaches that are aimed at service choices, not needs. These approaches continue to focus on the luxury taste we have acquired, not the need that people have for food. For food, the best value you get is in raising plant-eating fish under circumstances where, as they say, you get “more crop per drop” where you capture the nutrients and recycle them into plant-based farms. In nature, there is no waste. Part of the problem in taking so many fish out of the ocean is that you’re breaking the lakes and the crucial chain that gives back with its constant movement of nutrients. A smart aquaculture system is not one that is in the ocean or even in a natural body of water, but one that is designed like an aquarium, functioning like a big figure eight: plants on one side, fish on the other. The plants go to the fish and the nutrients go to feed a vegetable garden, with sunlight driving it all. The fish farms that raise carnivores need to be looked at with the understanding that taking large quantities of wildlife, wild fish, to get small quantities of farm fish, is not a sensible way to run a planet.

OK. You’ve convinced me. No more fish. When did you decide to give it up?

It was a gradual process. I come from an omnivorous dining family and eating seafood was just a natural thing to do. First in New Jersey, where the wildlife was captured and consumed locally, then in Florida. But even when I lived in Florida, it was clear that the numbers were going down as our numbers were going up. Now with 7 billion people on the planet, eating wildlife has to be a luxury, except for in those coastal communities that have few choices about what to consume. Today, armed with modern technologies, we can easily diminish and eliminate local wildlife. It isn’t like 10,000 years ago or 5,000 years ago or even 50 years ago. These days, our capacity to kill greatly exceeds the capacity of the natural systems to replenish. The amazing thing is that our focus is on looking at ocean wildlife primarily as food. In North America really, it is always a choice. It is never, as far as I can tell, a true necessity, given our access to other food sources. So I choose not to eat it.

What is your ideal meal? For example, if you could have anything for dinner tonight, what would it be? A sustainable meal of course.

There are so many choices. It’s not coming down to any one particular thing. I love the creative choices that are now available that didn’t exist when I was a child. Grains that are high in protein and have much more flavor than some of the more traditional ones like rice, and variations on the theme of legumes, eaten raw or cooked or incorporated into various recipes. People think of a plant-based diet as boring. But it’s only in your imagination, or lack of it, that plants are boring. There are 250,000 kinds of land-based plants — and then in the ocean, depending on how you count, if you include the plankton — you’re looking at maybe another 20,000 that we know about, including seaweed cultivated for the omega oils that people want. You don’t have to kill fish to acquire omega oils.

One last question. You’ve logged more than 7,000 hours underwater, researching and observing wildlife. Is it true that different fish have different personalities?

The wonderful thing about life as a biologist is that every individual — not just people or cats or dogs or horses — but all living things, even trees, are unique. Every being is unique. It’s just a fact. And certainly with fish, like birds, they all have a distinctive appearance and if you’re sharp enough to distinguish one from another you soon begin to see that they behave differently. If that’s personality, which I guess it is, each one has its own little quirks. For example, some fish are more aggressive, some are shy. And it’s wonderful spending thousands of hours under the ocean getting to know not just “the grand suite” or the kaleidoscope of life out there, but also to recognize all the individual pieces.


Five Reasons We Should Always Eat Fish on Fridays

Everybody knows that as Catholics, we eat fish on Fridays during Lent. Many Catholics also keep meatless Fridays throughout the rest of the year. There are countless articles on all the popular Catholic sites that discuss Canon 1250 and the norms for fasting and abstinence promulgated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. We know this, but if you’ll pardon the expression, we want more meat. We want to know why we should abstain from meat on Fridays. How does this enrich our lives as Christians? Well, you’re in luck! Below are the top five reasons we should always eat fish on Fridays, not just during Lent, but throughout the whole year.

1. Fish on Friday is an ancient Jewish custom

There is an ancient Jewish custom to eat fish on Fridays because God created fish on the fifth day, man on the sixth day, and then rested on the seventh day–the Sabbath. In this, we see a premonition of the Paschal Triduum from the very beginning of time. In this ancient custom, the eyes of the fish staring at us from the table are also a reminder of God’s eternal omniscience. He sees us at all times in every moment of weakness, every hour of need, and every adversity.

2. Jesus and the disciples ate fish—a lot of fish

When the disciples arrive at the Sea of Galilee after the Resurrection, they start fishing for some breakfast, just as they were doing when Jesus came into their lives and these humble fishermen were first commissioned as fishers of men. At first their nets come up empty, but then a stranger appears and tells them, “Cast your nets,” and they suddenly find they have more fish than they know what to do with. As they sit to eat, the disciples witness a miniature repetition of miracle of the loaves and fishes and immediately realize that the stranger is Jesus. When we share this simple meal, we should recall that we too owe our sustenance to God’s providence.

The Annulus Piscatoris (CNS photo/Alessia Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo)

3. Fish are not meat

This seems like an obvious statement, but it goes much deeper. God commanded Noah and his family, “Only meat with its lifeblood still in it you shall not eat.” This command continues in the Kosher dietary laws to this very day. However, this law does not apply to fish, because they are cold-blooded. This is important for us as Christians, because with the Resurrection, we are no longer bound to make blood offerings under the old dispensation. Friday is a day of sacrifice and atonement, but the blood of animals is an unnecessary and unworthy sacrifice upon the sacred altar before God’s throne in Heaven. As the Catechism tells us of the Eucharistic sacrifice, “the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner.”

The Sacrifice of Isaac by Caravaggio, c. 1603

4. Fish are a reminder of our Baptism

The image of water and flame reoccurs again and again throughout the Bible. From Noah’s Ark and the flight from Egypt to the ablutions of the priest during every celebration of the Holy Mass, water is a vivid reminder of our death and resurrection in Baptism. Like Jonah and John the Baptist, we go below the water to be cleansed of sin and to prepare the way for Christ. Fishes with their mouths agape are constantly drinking the water they travel in. If they do not drink, they die. Just as ordinary water could not slake the thirst of the woman at the well, it is the living water from Christ’s side which will truly refresh us and finally make us whole.

Jonah and the Whale, from the Verdun altar, Klosterneuburg, Austria

5. Jesus IS a fish

The fish symbol or “Jesus fish” is one of the earliest Christian symbols. In Greek, the word for fish, “. ” is an acrostic for “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.” A fourth century A.D. adaptation of ichthys as a wheel contains the letters . superimposed such that the result resembles an eight-spoked wheel. Both the fish and the wheel were important because they allowed the early Christians to identify one another in secret in times of persecution. In the same way, by eating fish on Fridays—every Friday, we identify ourselves as Christians.

The depth of symbolism of these creatures of the deep is richer than any gravy. As we sit for our Friday supper, there is so much to contemplate, so much spiritual food to savor that a heavy meal of meat and sauces would be positively gluttonous. If you don’t already, after this Octave of Easter, consider keeping the Friday fast throughout the rest of the year. You’ll be glad you did.


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Founder and CEO of Food Renegade, Kristen Michaelis CNC has been a Health and Nutrition Educator since 2008. She’s a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD — food that’s sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. [LEARN MORE]

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