Have you ever stood in front of the fish counter, confused? Which salmon should I get? How should I cook it? Why is one salmon $10 more than the other?
A few weeks ago, I was at the fish store looking for dinner. I stood there, trying to decide which fish looked most fresh AND which fish wasn’t going to put me into bankruptcy. (Damn those suckers can get expensive).
Generally, the fish has a label that says “wild” or “farmed”. This time I saw the word “aquaculture”. I had never seen this word used before in the fish aisle, but knowing that the food industry prefers to use savvy marketing language to grow sales, I was skeptical ….and then i laughed. “Aquaculture” sounded really fancy. In my head popped a little cartoon salmon wearing nerd glasses and reading a textbook. If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought ‘Oh wow! What a fancy fish”.
But, as a food industry skeptic, my gut told me to not trust it and pick the wild fish instead.
Fish is the fastest growing food animal sector in the United States. High quality fish contains necessary Omega 3’s that are vital for our brain and body health. Due to the popular demand of fish, the food industry has created fish farms to produce more fish for way less money.
According to researchers at Johns Hopkins, half of the seafood Americans consume comes from farms. Aquaculture (AKA farmed fish) has tripled in the last 20 years.
Since the demand of fish has grown so high, feeding these fish their natural high quality diet of other fish, tends to be challenging and is costly. So instead, many farmed fish are now fed manufactured feed that consists of corn, wheat, soy, and vegetable oils like canola – none of which are found in their natural diets. Not to mention that farmed fish swims in their own waste, potentially eating it as well.
Why is this bad? Because what our food eats, we end up eating too. If our salmon is eating an unhealthy and low quality diet, we end up eating less nutritious fish. In fact, farmed fish tend to have more Omega 6’s than Omega 3’s. (Over consumption of Omega 6’s are linked to inflammation, heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes, Autoimmune, IBS… and a laundry list of other ailments).
“A study from the Journal of American Dietetic Association examined thirty samples of the most commonly consumed fish sold at supermarkets in the US and found that some farmed fish contained nearly undetectable levels of omega 3’s”. – Dr. Mark Hyman. So, by eating farmed fish, you are not benefitting from the assumed nutrients.
Additionally, due to poor farming conditions, antibiotics are used to prevent disease and infections that farmed fish tend to be more accustomed to. And as we now know, what our fish eats, we eat. You do not want to add unnecessary antibiotics to your diet.
So, what can you do?
Simply put: buy Alaskan! The most credible seafood logo is the Alaska Seafood: Wild, Natural, Sustainable. And if you can’t find that, any Alaskan seafood will be good too.
The state completely outlaws fish farming, meaning there is no such thing as farmed Alaskan seafood. All of their seafood is wild caught, as the state has the largest stock of wild salmon on earth. Their fish has little to no traces of contaminants, is consistently very low in levels of heavy metals and is purer than fish from most parts of the world.
Wild Salmon can get pricy, so if you’re on a budget, look for frozen Alaskan salmon at places like Trader Joes and Costco! Yes, these places have legit Alaskan salmon for about $10/lb (as opposed to $20 in the store).
And as a bonus, here is an easy summer Salmon and Mango Salsa recipe!