Why You Should Always Buy Wild-Caught Salmon
Why You Should Always Buy Wild-Caught Salmon
Selecting wild-caught fish over farmed-raised fish is a must, especially when it comes to salmon. Farm-raised fish are raised in close confinement, fed an unvaried artificial diet, and constantly exposed to their own wastes. With this way of life, exposure to harmful chemicals is inevitable and the quality of their meat is compromised. This makes consumption of farm-raised fish unhealthy for humans. The delicate balance of the ecosystem is also disrupted. Here are some more reasons why you should always buy wild-caught salmon and avoid farm-raised salmon.
Wild-caught salmon is more nutritious
Studies have shown that wild salmon is more nutritious than farmed-raised salmon.
- Wild-caught salmon has more zinc than farmed salmon. It also has eight times more Vitamin D and three times more Vitamin A per 100 gram serving.
- Wild-caught salmon has higher amounts of omega-3s per serving than farm-raised salmon.
- Wild-caught salmon has fewer calories and fat. Farmed salmon has more than three times the amount of saturated fat than wild salmon.
Wild-caught salmon has fewer pesticides and contaminants
- Studies performed by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), along with those done in Canada, Ireland and the UK, have found that cancer-causing polychlorinatedbiphenyls (PCBs) exist in farm-raised salmon at 16 times the rate of wild salmon.
- Researchers have also found high levels of polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE), a chemical used as a flame retardant, in farm-raised fish. PBDEs are endocrine disruptors within the human body and are believed to contribute to cancer.
- Depending on the location of the farm, these fish may also contain high levels of pesticides and industrial chemical residues which are harmful to humans consuming such fish.
- A 2005 study published in the Journal of Nutrition compared the health benefits of farmed salmon to the health risks. The study concluded that consumers can lower their risk for IQ decline and other cognitive and behavioral impairment by minimizing contaminant exposure by choosing wild-caught salmon over farmed-raised salmon.
Wild-caught salmon contains less chemicals and dyes
- Wild-caught salmon get their full-bodied pink color from a natural diet rich in red-hued krill.
- Farmed-raised salmon do not benefit from a wild diet. Instead, they are fed fish meal, chicken byproducts, soybeans, grains/wheat, etc. The result is a fish that has an unappealing plain gray color. To make up for this color deficit and to make their fish more marketable, salmon farmers add natural and artificial colorants to the fish feed.
- Farmers use a device called a DSM Salmofan to choose the desired shade of pink for fish. The Salmofan is similar to a color wheel or fan-deck you may use to choose a paint color when painting your house.
- Once the farmer chooses his/her desired color, the corresponding levels of canthaxanthin and astaxanthin pigment dyes are added to the salmons’ feed (consumers prefer a deeper shade, with 66% choosing color No. 33).
- Canthaxanthin, has been linked to eye defects and retinal damage among humans.
Wild-caught salmon contains fewer allergens
- Farmed fish are often fed grains and soy, two common allergens in people.
Salmon farming has environmental consequences
- Salmon farming is considered to be one of the most harmful aquaculture production systems. The industry uses open net-cages placed directly in the ocean, where farm waste, chemicals, disease and
parasites are released directly into the surrounding waters, harming other marine life.
- Escapes of farmed fish are common, as are the deaths of natural predators like sea lions and seals who are attracted to the fish cages. Farmed fish that escape can wipe out an entire population of wild fish due to the diseases they carry.
Wild-caught salmon is not saturated with antibiotics
- Open net-cage aquaculture systems exposes farmed fish to diseases and parasites that occur in the ocean environment. To treat this disease, large volumes of antibiotics are used in salmon farming. The major cause of concern with the use of antibiotics in farmed salmon (and other livestock) is that many of these antibiotics are also used to treat human diseases. Frequent use of antibiotics in aquaculture and other industries poses a risk to human health by allowing disease microbes to become resistant to antibiotic treatments – making it more difficult to treat human disease. This makes certain human populations at risk for health complications.
Wild-caught salmon is not genetically modified
- Genetically modified salmon is on the horizon and may very soon be released into the United States food industry. Choosing to buy wild-caught salmon guarantees that you will not consume a GMO salmon, which may pose unknown health risks.
You should always buy wild-caught salmon. Whether you are shopping at your local market or eating at a restaurant, be sure to ask if the salmon behind the case or on the menu is wild or farmed. If the fishmonger or waiter is unsure, select something else. You can do without the high saturated fat, antibiotics, artificial dyes and pesticides that may be in the farm raised salmon.
- National Nutrient Database for Standard References – USDA
- Foran, J.A. D.H. Good, D.O. Carpenter, MC Hamilton, BA Knuth, and S.J. Schwager. (2005). Quantitative Analysis of the Benefits and Risks of Consuming Farmed and Wild Salmon. Journal of Nutrition. 135:2639-2643.Daley CA, Abbott A, Doyle PS, Nader GA, Larson S. A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef. Nutrition Journal. 2010;9:10. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-9-10.
- Mozaffarian, D. and E.A. Rimm. (2006). Fish Intake, Contaminants, and Human Health: Evaluating the Risks and Benefits. Journal of the American Medical Association. 296(15): 1885-1899.
When she is not helping others to slay fat, build muscle, and live amazing lives, Jennifer can be found exploring the outdoors with her dogs, cooking, traveling and playing/coaching lacrosse. She also enjoys reading and writing about food culture, history and the science of human movement.