Wild Vs. Farm Raised Salmon: The Ongoing Debate
Featured on #100daysofhealthy
Though I try to educate myself on where food comes from and how it arrived on my plate, admittedly, I’m not an expert on all food related topics. For example, during a cooking class I taught the other night a student raised a question that had me stumped:
"What's better - wild or farm-raised salmon?"
It's a question I decided then and there I had to investigate further and when I did I found it was a really hot topic with a lot of articles and information regarding the pros and cons of both. However, I did come to a final conclusion:
Wild caught salmon are better tasting and better for you.
Farm-raised salmon are pumped with antibiotics and pesticides. They are also fed a chemical called "canthaxanthin" used to enhance their color, but loaded with PCB’s.
Wild caught salmon do not contain antibiotics and pesticides because they live in a natural environment where disease and parasites are spread out. Wild salmon are healthier because they are swimming about the cold ocean waters, jumping through streams and have less bad fat. I can tell you from experience that wild salmon tastes much better than farm raised.
The Cons to Wild-Caught Salmon?
Like many environmental quandaries, the debate over wild vs. farmed fish doesn’t yield a simple, universal answer. Some fish species are in more danger in the wild than others. Some fish-farming operations are better and more responsibly managed than others, and the same can be true for wild fisheries.
The major con of eating wild-caught salmon is that many of their populations are being depleted and are at risk of extinction because of over- harvesting. Besides, they are very expensive and not always available. The answer to this problem is a multi-level one.
We need to understand why the salmon are being depleted.
Over-fishing is a large part, but studies also show that economic development and exploitation of the ecosystem such as dams, mining and pollution are contributing to the problem. How do we reverse what has already been done and how do we stop it from continuing? This depressing conundrum cannot be solved in a day.
Though other studies have shown that controlled fishing can help us overcome the over-fishing problem, the environmental issue is a bit harder to solve.
In the end, regardless of all the evidence supporting wild salmon as a better food we may not have an option in the very near future.
What can you do?
Salmon CAN be farmed safely and with minimal ecological damage, if the industry adopts standards that protect the environment, consumers and local communities. The Marine Stewardship Council, a fishery certification program that rewards sustainable fishing practices, is influencing the choices people make when buying seafood, and is working with retailers to transform the seafood market to a sustainable business.
Look for the MSC label the next time you plan on buying any seafood. If it has this stamp, it has been certified by the MSC and passed their standards.
To learn more check out MSC web site www.msc.org.