Friday, December 5, 2014

Wild Salmon vs. Farmed Salmon

Author: Woo-Lim Ko

Upon entering the grocery store to cure my salmon cravings, there are a couple questions that I ask myself. First, what’s the difference between wild salmon and farmed salmon? Second, which one tastes better and is better for me? Lastly, where have all the salmon gone that farming is even needed? Look no further, I have answered these questions for you.

Apparently, adult king or Chinook salmon are having a hard time surviving in the Klamath River of northern California. The waters are running dangerously low, if more water isn’t flowing into the Klamath Rivers soon, the Salmon could get infected by a disease called gill rot. This disease can kill off tens of thousands of Chinooks (NPR, 2014). Typically, several hundred thousand adult fish swim up the sea to the river in the fall, but only around 90,000 made it back, and fewer than 60,000 are expected this year, which is the lowest number on record. This means that Salmon fishing in California and Oregon will probably have to be limited for a few years in order to allow stocks to recover (Smithsonian, 2008). What does this mean for us? It basically means that we are limited on Wild Salmon, although not completely rare. This makes us look into purchasing farmed Salmon more frequently, but is it better for us?

According to CNN, a 2003 report from Environmental Working Group showed that farmed salmon in the U.S has highest levels of PCBS, which are toxic manmade chemicals. It had higher levels of PCBs and other toxins than wild Pacific salmon. Wild salmon also have 131 fewer calories and half the fat content of the same amount of farmed salmon. Farmed salmon may have slightly more omega-3 fatty acids, as well as more saturated fat content, which is not what you want. Overall, wild salmon wins with being healthier and having less fat content. However, with the decrease in wild salmon in recent times, what would be the solution to make sure we are consuming safe fish?

If you are concerned with contamination issues, make sure to find out where your fish came from and read about any potential problems in that area. Trimming the skin and fat as much as possible will also help, as well as using methods like grilling and boiling to reduce fat, as this is where the toxic chemicals are stored.

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