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Atlantic Salmon - Farm Raised Salmon

July 06, 2020


Atlantic Salmon

Fishers used to find salmon all over the world, including both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Atlantic salmon is a species of salmon found primarily in the Atlantic Ocean from the coast of North American to Europe's western shores. Most people question if Atlantic salmon is wild, and the answer to that is that Atlantic Salmon is most likely not wild-caught. The Atlantic salmon you see in the store today is farm raised salmon. Over the last century, fishers have fished Atlantic salmon to the point of becoming endangered. As a result, farm raised Atlantic salmon has grown as a practice in the last several decades as an alternative to the depleted populations of wild-caught Atlantic Salmon. Wild-caught Atlantic salmon is still struggling to stabilize. 


Atlantic Salmon Vs. Pacific Salmon:

While you might assume that any salmon you find in the market is equally as delicious and nutritious, we are here to warn you that probably isn't the case. Farmed Atlantic salmon comes with a host of problems. Here at Global Seafoods, we believe in transparency regarding the seafood you put into your body. Follow along while we review Atlantic salmon facts and some of the significant differences between sockeye vs. Atlantic salmon and why choosing wild-salmon may be a better choice for your family.


What is Atlantic Salmon? 

Salmon used to frequent the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, but after centuries of overfishing, wild-caught Atlantic salmon is no longer available to buy. As Atlantic salmon populations suffered, fisheries began exploring breeding and spawning salmon in captivity. Now, you will only find farm raised Atlantic salmon in the store, and there are some significant differences between farmed salmon vs. wild salmon


Atlantic Vs. Pacific Salmon:

One of the first things you will notice when comparing Atlantic farmed salmon to wild-caught salmon is the color. Farm raised salmon color is much lighter than most types of wild-salmon. Salmon farms feed their salmon a diet of highly processed fish food while the diet of natural salmon includes smaller fish, plankton, and other invertebrates, all of which contribute to the dark red color of wild-caught salmon fillets. Atlantic salmon fillets gain their orange color from additives included in their diet on salmon farms. 


Farm Raised Atlantic Salmon

As we know it today, Atlantic salmon farming began on Norway salmon farms during the 1960s. Europeans and Americans sought out new ways of farming salmon after centuries of overfishing the Atlantic Ocean. The salmon farming industry has grown since the 1960s, and you can now find salmon farms all over Europe and North American. You can even find Chilean salmon farms. Atlantic salmon is the most common salmon you find raised on salmon farms. 

Atlantic salmon is unique in that the fish adapted well to salmon farming conditions and is easier to handle than other salmon species. The vast majority of research and development into salmon farming practices is done with Atlantic salmon because of their adaptability outside of their natural environment. 

Is Atlantic Salmon Healthy? 

There are some significant differences when it comes to Atlantic salmon nutrition. Studies have found that Atlantic salmon is higher in calories and fat. Farmed salmon has an undesirable ratio of Omega-3 fatty acids to Omega-6 fatty acids than it's wild-caught counterparts. Atlantic salmon calories come mostly from their increased fat content. Salmon farms feed their salmon a diet that's much higher in fats, and the lack of room in floating salmon cages make it almost impossible for salmon to swim freely. 

The delicate balance of Omega 3s to Omega 6s is better among wild-caught salmon, making wild-caught salmon a healthier choice when it comes to Omega3's which have powerful benefits in the body. 

Studies have found that Atlantic salmon can still increase Omega 3s in test subjects, but the studies were short term studies with less than 20 participants. These studies did not look into the long-term effects of consuming higher amounts of omega 6s. Scientists do believe that a poor balance of omega 3s to Omega 6s can increase inflammation in the body and lead to increased chronic disease. 

Why is Atlantic Salmon bad?

 Salmon farming uses floating cages out in low current waters near the shore to breed and raise salmon. These salmon farms pack millions of salmon into floating cages where low currents make it more difficult for by-products to wash away from the salmon. Because salmon are so tightly packed and unable to swim freely and consume their natural diet, salmon farms are at higher risk for contamination with diseases and parasites such as sea lice. 

Atlantic salmon tends to be higher in contamination from their environment and their processed feed. Atlantic salmon is higher PCB's, a contaminant that is believed to be a carcinogen or causes cancer. 

Is Alaskan Salmon Better than Atlantic Salmon? 

Wild-caught or Alaskan salmon is a healthier choice. Wild salmon is higher in omega-3s and lower in omega-6s, which is overall better for our health. Alaskan salmon has a better protein to fat ratio as well. 

Alaskan salmon has lower chances of parasite infection because wild-salmon freely roam their natural habitat and consume their natural diet. Wild-salmon have more robust immune systems making them more suitable for fighting off infection than farmed Atlantic salmon. 

Because of their susceptibility to infection and disease, farmed salmon are often fed antibiotics with their diet. Science is growing increasingly concerned with the use of antibiotics in our food chain and its contribution to antibiotic resistance. 

Is Any Farmed Salmon Safe to Eat?

This question is a difficult for us to answer. If you have no other choice but to eat farmed salmon, we recommend that you still add salmon to your diet and consume Atlantic salmon. Studies have found that Chilean salmon farms have the least amount of contamination. So, if contamination is a concern for you, look for Chile as the country of origin of your frozen Atlantic salmon fillets. Chilean salmon farms do, however, use more antibiotics on their salmon than Norwegian or American salmon farms. 

Farming salmon practices have improved over the last decade, and researchers continue to explore safer options for farming salmon. The bottom line remains that floating sea cages open salmon farms to the increased risk of salmon disease. Farmed salmon feed ingredients lead to salmon that is higher in calories and omega 6s than wild-caught salmon. Wild-caught salmon is a better, safer, and more sustainable choice. 

Buying Wild-Caught Salmon

Knowing where your food comes from is a large part of making sure we consume a healthy diet. Finding fresh wild-caught salmon can be difficult, depending on where you live. However, we can solve that problem for you since we ship our wild-caught Alaskan salmon straight to your door. 

When you order wild-caught salmon from Global Seafoods, not only are you getting healthier and more flavorful seafood, but our salmon fishers take extra care to ensure that from the ocean to your freezer, your salmon fillets are treated with the best practices. Global Seafoods guarantees the best flavor and texture possible. Our salmon fillets are shipped to you frozen over dry ice so that they arrive at your door still frozen. 

We offer several salmon varieties for you to choose from, or you can choose one of our salmon sampler packs so that you can try a bit of all of the types of salmon we offer. 

We don't want you to sacrifice what is best for your health and your family's health. When you shop with Global Seafoods, you can feel good about buying sustainable, wild-caught, and healthy seafood. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is farm-raised salmon bad for you? 

At Global Seafoods, we're not interested in demonizing any seafood. We believe that wild-caught seafood is always a more responsible and healthier choice. There is a general consensus among the nutrition community that wild-caught seafood is the better choice. If it comes down to choosing between eating zero seafood or choosing Atlantic salmon, which is farmed salmon, we recommend that you choose to add some farmed salmon to your diet. We at Global Seafoods make it possible for you to always choose healthier and more sustainable wild-caught seafood by making fantastic seafood available for you to order no matter where you live.  

Is farm-raised salmon safe?

Farm-raised salmon carries an increased risk of contamination with undesirable contents such as microplastics, PCBs, and other potential carcinogens. The confined netting environment of a salmon farm doesn't allow salmon to roam freely, and contaminants and infections are more likely in an enclosed environment. We firmly believe that wild-caught seafood is a better choice and a safer choice than farm-raised seafood.  

Does farm-raised salmon have worms?

The confined environment of a salmon farm can and does increase the risk of parasite infection. One contaminated salmon can quickly spread disease and parasites to the entire farm in tightly packed salmon netting areas. While not all salmon raised on a farm is contaminated, it is certainly more likely. 

Does farm-raised salmon have mercury?

Studies have shown that there is no significant difference between farmed salmon and wild-caught salmon when it comes to discussing mercury levels. Mercury levels in both wild-caught salmon and farmed salmon are relatively low and not enough to raise concerns for individuals at risk for mercury exposure such as pregnant women and children. 

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