What You Need To Know When Buying Salmon

Cooking Tip #4

Wild or farmed? Atlantic or Pacific? Different Species and grades? Difference in quality, flavour and nutrition? How well do you know your salmon?

Wild vs Farmed Salmon

When buying salmon, there are a few things to consider as not all salmon are created equal. Wild salmon are considered the healthier choice over farmed salmon for several reasons. Wild salmon are a natural species uncorrupted by genetic manipulation like some of the farmed salmon available today. Genetically modified (GMO) salmon have been altered to grow faster and larger than regular salmon. The greatest concern about GMO foods is that it is not safe to eat. There is evidence that some GMO food products when fed to other animals can cause organ failure, cancer and early death.

Another concern about the GMO salmon is that many of these farms are kept in fenced-off areas of the ocean where some of the fish could ultimately escape. This could lead to them multiplying in the wild and overcrowding and devouring the native fish. Since GMO fish are bred to grow faster, they also come with large appetites and have been known to even eat each other.

Wild salmon eat other organisms found in its natural environment, whereas farmed salmon are given a processed high-fat feed. Farmed salmon as a result are much higher in unhealthy fats than wild salmon, containing slightly more omega-3s, but far more omega-6 fatty acids and 3 times the amount of saturated fat, with a total of 46% more calories.

Wild salmon also acquire more essential nutrients through their food than farmed fish, making them more nutritious. The deep reddish orange colour that occurs in natural salmon is a result of their traditional diet of Krill. This pigment caused by their diet produces a powerful antioxidant in the fish that offers many health benefits such as: stimulating the immune system, preventing bladder cancer, protecting the retina from oxidative damage, and can be used to treat Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease as well other nervous system disorders.

Farmed salmon are at a higher risk of accumulating contaminants from their environments than wild salmon. These contaminants include several chlorinated pesticides, dioxins and PCBs. These dangerous chemicals have been linked to cancer and various other health problems.

The conclusion is that wild salmon offer far more health benefits and far less potential health risks than farmed salmon.

Farmed fish and GMO foods do not have to be labelled according to the FDA. In order to avoid consuming these foods, chose foods that are labelled “wild”, “organic” and “non-GMO”. If a product does not have these labels, they are likely farmed and could be a GMO.

Atlantic vs Pacific Salmon

Atlantic salmon have been reduced to the point of near extinction in the past two decades. This has been caused by overfishing, pollution, habitat deterioration and disturbances to migration routes. Today, 99.5% of all native Atlantic salmon have disappeared from the wild. Protecting what remains of the species is critical. Therefore choosing Pacific salmon over Atlantic is the ethical choice when shopping.

The Pacific Salmon Family

There are five species of the Salmonidae family; the king salmon (chinook), the red salmon (sockeye), the silver salmon (coho), the pink salmon (humpback) and the chum salmon (dog).

  • King Salmon – The largest of all salmon and the most desirable species for a few reasons: it has the highest percentage of body fat (Omega 3) and the most preferred flavour. King Salmon comes in several pigment variations including red, white and marbled flesh.

  • Red Salmon – Red Salmon eat only Krill and Phytoplankton as opposed to fish, so they are more nutritious and obtain a noticeably deeper orange hue than other species.

  • Silver Salmon – The silver salmon is a smaller fish with a lower fat content (omega-3) and have a lighter hue but can taste close to Sockeye if from a healthy source.

  • Pink Salmon – The smallest and most abundant of Pacific salmon, but are not as flavourful as premium kinds due to lower fat content and therefore are often canned.

  • Chum Salmon – Chum Salmon is the type found at discount grocers in the frozen section. The outer skin of Chum salmon resembles a tie-dye and the flesh is lighter in colour.

Written by: J. Marshall

References

•    Authority Nutrition – https://authoritynutrition.com/wild-vs-farmed-salmon/
•    Slow Food – http://slowfood.com/slowfish/pagine/eng/pagina.lasso?-id_pg=88
•    Natural News – http://www.naturalnews.com/025969_salmon_fat_fish.html
•    Time – http://time.com/4120648/fda-approved-aquabounty-gmo-salmon/
•    Alternet – http://www.alternet.org/food/atlantic-salmon-basically-extinct-youre-eating-genetically-eroded-version  
•    Genetic Literacy Project – https://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2015/11/13/10-studies-proving-gmos-are-harmful-not-if-science-matters/
•    Collective Evolution – http://www.collective-evolution.com/2014/04/08/10-scientific-studies-proving-gmos-can-be-harmful-to-human-health/

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