Fish Farming has been around for centuries, and farmed salmon is one of the most popular fish in the seafood industry. In fact, farmed salmon accounts for approximately 70% of all fish consumed worldwide. The production technique was first developed over 100 years ago to provide a domestic supply of food when imports were interrupted by war; however, it wasn’t until the mid-1970s that farmed salmon became a significant player in the marketplace.
They are typically raised on land, usually in steel pens or concrete tanks where they’re fed pellets made of soybeans, corn, and other grains. They often receive antibiotics as well to keep them healthy because these types of farmed fish are often crowded and can’t escape predators.
They are typically less expensive than wild-caught, particularly in the United States where a farmed salmon account for about 80% of all seafood consumed – a far higher percentage than any other country. The difference between farmed and wild-caught is that farmed salmon have a lighter color because they are fed pellets to make them grow faster and have less fat.
There is far more variation in farmed salmon than any other type of farmed seafood, with some fish raised on diets including wheat or canola oil – which gives the dish a nutty flavor- while others are given only soymeal as food.
What is farmed salmon?
Farmed salmon, as opposed to wild-caught (not farmed), begins life in a hatchery. It’s important not only because of its color but also because the fish are fed pellets made from other farmed and wild-caught species. This can lead to health problems for humans who eat it if farmed far enough down the line.
What is wrong with farmed salmon?
The farmed salmon industry has been criticized for its environmental impact, which includes shrinking the gene pool by cross-breeding and polluting coastal waters. Critics also argue that they may contain more omega-six fatty acids than wild varieties do because farmed fish are fed cornmeal made from soybeans – an oil with a higher ratio of omega-six to omega-three fatty acids.
Why is farmed salmon bad for the environment?
The industry pollutes and destroys the environment. In British Columbia, Canada, for example, farmed salmon feedlots produce 15 times more waste in a day than all of Vancouver’s human population! The vast amounts of food pellets that are fed to them (approximately 12 pounds per pound of farmed fish) require far more energy to produce than the farmed fish consume in food, and this waste is filling up coastal waters.
Farmed salmon are not raised on a natural diet of wild-caught fish like their cousins, so they do not have as much omega-three fatty acids or vitamin D. Their feedlots also pollute the environment with far more antibiotics, pesticides, and chemicals than any other farming sector – They have 33 times the amount of dioxin as beef.
This is in stark contrast to what people believe about wild-caught salmon: they are healthier for you because they grow bigger and are raised on a natural diet. The problem is that most farmed salmon are farmed in overcrowded pens with thousands of other icky fish, so they don’t grow as big.
Farmed salmon color
Farmed salmon has a grayish pink hue, whereas wild-caught fish will be more of an orange-red color if they’re cooked.
Health problems for humans who eat it
Salmon farmed in open net pens near the shorelines of B.C., Canada have been found to be contaminated with mercury, PCBs, and other pollutants. A previous study conducted by Health Canada found that they can contain 16 times more dioxin than wild salmon (due largely to their feed).
Dioxins are potent cancer-causing chemicals, farmed salmon is not considered a healthy choice during pregnancy and other individuals with compromised immune systems such as chemotherapy patients should avoid eating farmed fish altogether.
One of the major problems with farmed salmon is that they are fed farmed fish meal as well as ground-up farmed salmon. These practices lead to a high concentration of PCBs, dioxins, and other toxins in the fish.
The risk from contaminants such as mercury or polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) may be lower than eating wild-caught salmon, but farmed salmon is not healthy for anyone who consumes it.
To make matters worse, they are fed fish meal and ground-up farmed salmon to supplement their feed which leads to a high concentration of PCBs, dioxins, and other toxins in the flesh.
How to tell wild salmon from farmed
Wild salmon taste better as they are far superior in flavor, texture, and color. The fish is also more sustainable as they are not fed with antibiotics or other medicines that farmed salmon require to survive
- They are more orange than wild salmon, as it contains high levels of beta carotene to turn the fish an attractive color. Wild Salmon also contain beta carotene but usually in lower amounts which makes them a darker red hue.
- They have less fat content and oil that can be seen on the surface
- They have a firmer and less flaky texture than wild, which will also be redder in color
- farmed salmon can have an odor that is stronger or fishier compared to the milder scent of the wild.
Toxic fact check
The salmon farmed in the Pacific Northwest are often farmed from fish that were originally imported to Canada. The ocean waters of British Columbia are filled with foreign fish, many of which have a significantly higher level of mercury than we see on average.
- Mercury is an element found naturally in the earth’s crust and at high levels can cause health problems, such as delays in mental and physical development.
- Mercury can also be found naturally occurring with other elements like silver and gold to form a compound called mercuric sulfide or cinnabar ore. It is often used for pigment because of its bright red color.
- The farmed salmon farmed in the Pacific Northwest coast are farmed with fish from Canada which have higher levels of mercury than other farmed salmon.
Eating them is not a good idea for pregnant women or children because of the high levels of mercury it contains, which can lead to developmental delays and mental retardation in the future.
- Mercury poisoning has been shown to inhibit some aspects of brain development by penetrating neurons and blocking the passage of neurotransmitters in people with high levels.
- Mercury can also be found naturally occurring at low levels and farmed salmon contains far higher amounts than what is seen on average, so it’s best not to eat farmed salmon while pregnant or when giving birth.