As overfishing has become increasingly problematic and wild fish populations less sufficient to feed the growing human population, the world has become more and more dependent on aquaculture, or fish farming. In fact, today, one out of every four fish consumed worldwide was raised on a farm. While, overall, fish farming adds to global fish resources and helps to balance out the effects of overfishing, for multiple reasons that are both nutritious and environmental, wild-fish fish are far superior to their farm-raised cousins. Therefore, you should always look for wild-cat options, like wild-cat Alaska salmon, when shopping for fish to cook for your family.
From a nutritional standpoint, it is important to note that, despite being fattier than wild fish, farmed fish provided less protein and usable Omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial to the heart. Wild-cat Alaska salmon, for example, has a 20% higher protein content and 20% lower fat content than their farm-raised counterparts (which are higher in harmful, pro-inflammatory Omega-6 fatty acids). Furthermore, due to feedlot conditions, which include dousing them in antibiotic and exposing them to concentrated pesticides, farm-raised fish contain contaminants and cancer-causing toxins that their wild relatives do not. Farm-raised salmon are also dyed with artificial coloring to match the pinkish tone of wild-caught salmon; otherwise, their flesh would appear an unappetizing gray color.
Aside from producing less nutritious fish, fish farming also has many detrimental effects on the environment, impacting wild fish populations by displacing natural breeding habitats, spreading diseases like sea lice that kill wild species and further polluting the oceans in innumerable ways. Salmon farms, for example, litter the sea floor with excrement (equivalent in amount to the sewage of a city of 1,000 people) and unheaten feed, both of which breed bacteria that damage living conditions of shellfish and other bottom-dwelling creatures. This can throw entire ecosystems out of whack.
When buying salmon, it’s recommended that you ask for wild-caught Alaska salmon first, since Alaska’s natural habitats and conservation efforts make for the healthiest populations worldwide. Wild-cat Alaska salmon has also ranked first in blind taste tests for flavor, texture, and aroma.
Featured Image: Livestrong