Salmon: There is More Than One!
People often come to me and tell me that it is crucially important to know what you are consuming at all times. Even though I highly agree with this statement, I am always shocked to how little people actually know, compared to how much they think they know. I have had numerous people exclaim to me that it is vital to eat non-GMO foods that are organic, but they do not even know what that actually means. More surprisingly they are even more shocked and appalled when I tell them that they most likely have eaten very little to no non-GMO and purely organic foods. One major advantage to the seafood industry is that anything wild will not have any genetic modifications and will never be exposed to growth hormones or any type of anti-biotic. But there is a major part of the seafood industry that is farmed, and the majority of thee industries thrives around trying to grow more, faster. Most people do not realize this and it is no shock when most people don’t even realize there is more than one type of salmon.
Allot of people who call me and ask for salmon products often when asked what type of salmon they want respond with “no, I just want salmon”. In Alaska we catch five varieties of salmon; Coho Salmon
, Sockeye Salmon
, Chum Salmon, Pink Salmon and King Salmon
. Of these species all of them have a major wild catch industry of which we get all of our salmon products. But they all also have a farmed industry. For these species the majority of producers will state whether they are wild or farmed, as they can go both ways. But what many do not know is there are a few salmon species that are only produced in farms. Steelhead and Atlantic Salmon are produced exclusively in farms. Steelhead is a freshwater salmon variety, which is also known as Rainbow Trout. There are not enough waterways to sustain a wild industry so farms were opened up to produce these fish in a massive scale. Atlantic Salmon are found in the wild, but their production has been restricted to farms, due to the US and Europe not providing substantial permits for commercial wild fishing. If you see in the store Steelhead or Atlantic Salmon, then it is 100% farmed salmon.
Some would argue that there is no major difference between farmed and wild salmon; but those who argue it are frankly either blind or stupid. There is a world of difference between farmed and wild fish. Firstly, for all of you GMO watchers, all farmed fish is a GMO. No exceptions. These fish are jam packed in huge numbers into small pens where they are raised and fed certain diets. The first issue that comes is the matter of health. Imagine cramming hundreds of people into a small room for months at a time. If one person happens to have a deadly disease then by the time you let them all out everyone in that group will have that disease and will most likely die from it. Same thing goes for fish. One sick fish can contaminate and kill an entire stock in a farm within a short period of time. To avoid this the farmers will constantly feed the fish an anti-biotic regimen in order to keep them from getting sick. This is very dangerous because after many generations it has shown that the fish lose their natural immunity and this can lead to resistance in certain bacteria. This has been shown in many ways. Sometimes farmed fish will escape from their pens, mate with wild fish and then be caught with illnesses that we have never seen before in wild salmon. Further more there has been found to be a correlation between people who consume farmed foods that have been treated with anti-biotics and infection with resistant strains of bacterial infections. If that isn’t bad enough, farmed salmon doesn’t have naturally pink meat. Wild salmon meat is red and pink because wild salmon eat krill, which have a natural dye in them. In salmon farms the fish are fed coloring isotopes in order to turn their meat pink, and are often dyed post-death. Not very appealing, I know.
So we now know the difference between farmed and wild salmon, but many also do not realize that there is also a world of difference between all wild salmon species. For example, Pink Salmon can easily be held in one hand, even if it is at full size. On the other size spectrum, some people may have trouble holding a king salmon even with both arms. But size is not the only difference. All salmon types have a different amount of flavor, fat content and caviar. Chum and Pink Salmon have often been regarded to have dryer meat, but when it comes to caviar it is considered to be the best. Coho, Sockeye and King Salmon are considered to have the best meat, being very flaky and oily. But Sockeye and King Salmon caviar are often considered garbage, while Coho caviar has a large demand. With this it is easy to see that there is a major difference with the type of salmon meat and caviar you choose.
Many major stores have made a pretty penny selling farmed salmon for a more affordable price. But remember the next time you see salmon at Wal-Mart, that just because it is salmon, doesn’t make it good for you. Just like just because it is a car, doesn’t automatically make it a Mercedes. With my final thought I leave all of you GMO watchers with this thought. When I travelled in Europe I would buy fresh produce at the market and a freshly picked tomato in Italy would rot and mold within a day or two. In the US a tomato will last for weeks on the counter. Let that sink in.
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