Education expands our knowledge. Awareness provides insight. Combined, the two can be very powerful in helping us to make informed, healthy changes in our lives. We all eat, it is part of our natural biology and what gives us life. What we eat is a choice. There is no right or wrong, there is no one "best way", we are all human with different experiences and needs - it's part of what makes us unique! Empowered with knowledge and awareness, we can make choices that either supports our well-being or detracts from it. At Rooted Gypsy Farms, we want to empower you to make healthy and informed decisions when it comes to what you put in your body. So starting this week and going forward, we will be providing some "Food for Thought".
This week, with Wild-Caught Alaskan Copper River Salmon being provided in our boxes by Jammin' Salmon, a local Grand Junction company, we thought we might start out by providing a little education on the difference between Farm-Raised Salmon and Wild-Caught Salmon.
As many may already know, Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in every kind of fish but are especially high in fish such as salmon that store a lot of oils in their muscles. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in adults and promote healthy vision and brain development in infants.
When you buy fish at the market, you will find most are labeled "farm-raised" and some are labeled "wild" or "wild-caught." Sure, they're both salmon, but they're very different things. What is the difference, you ask? Great question.
Farm-Raised vs Wild-Caught Salmon:
Unlike wild-caught salmon, farm-raised salmon are housed in large netted pens, which poses a number of potential health risks to consumers as well as to the environment. The feed provided to farm-raised salmon is one of the main issues affecting the environment due to two reasons: its ingredients and the consequences of leftover feed settling to the seafloor. In the wild, adult salmon eat other fish, squid, eels, and prawns. In a farmed environment, they are fed ingredients that are derived from terrestrial plants and land animal by-products. The concern over farmed-raised salmon is that the excrement from these fish fall to the seafloor and are passed on to other fish.
According to the EPA, "Ninety–four percent of all advisories in effect in 2011 involved five bioaccumulative chemical contaminants: mercury, PCBs, chlordane, dioxins, and DDT. These contaminants accumulate in fish tissue at concentrations many times higher than concentrations in the water and can persist for years in sediments, where bottom-dwelling creatures eat them and pass them to larger fish."
In both wild-caught and farm-raised salmon, the red color comes from pigmenting compounds called carotenoids, which are found in crustaceans, algae, and other naturally occurring sources. While wild-caught salmon get their color by eating shrimp and krill, farm-raised salmon generally have carotenoids added to their feed, either through natural ingredients like ground-up crustaceans or synthetic forms created in a lab. Without this chemical in their feed, the farm-raised salmon would naturally be white, unlike the natural reddish-pink color of wild-caught salmon.
When it comes to what we eat, our wish is that we make informed choices that support our ecosystem, nourish our bodies, and provide a better future for generations to come.
- Bon Appetit, Wild-caught salmon and farm-raised salmon: What's the difference?
- Washington State Department of Health, Farmed vs Wild Salmon
- EPA.gov, National Listing of Fish Advisories General Fact Sheet, 2011
- Time Magazine: How Farmers Turn Thier Salmon Pink, 2017