It’s tempting to write a post for this week about all the good and bad fish for you and for the environment, but I realize I need to save SOMEthing to write about for when this Super Foods series is over! UPDATE: At the bottom of this fish recipe is a good list of references for good and bad fish.
For today, I’ll give you the ways to find safe salmon and what to avoid. Be sure to read about the super health benefits of salmon first.
The basics of salmon
- You DO NOT want farmed salmon, because
- the fish are eating unnatural foods like corn, which may also be genetically modified, and when fed fish (salmon are carnivores) they eat more fish than they ultimately feed you (bad for the ecosystem called earth, you included)
- fish may be treated with antibiotics (bad for everybody)
- the highly concentrated waste from fish farms pollutes the water (bad for the earth)
- they are tested high in cancer-causing PCBs and dioxin, and endocrine-disrupting (hormone) PBDEs, a flame retardant (bad for your health)
- the farms breed diseases that kill wild salmon (bad for the earth)
Therefore you want to buy only wild salmon, which is higher in Omega-3s anyway.
- All Atlantic salmon is farmed.
- All Alaskan salmon is wild.
Anyone feel like they’re in elementary Math class? If this, then this… Which salmon fits all the descriptions (and you can remember all this when you’re standing in the grocery store)?!
How to remember what salmon to buy
Tricky! Since “Atlantic” and “Alaskan” start with the same letter, I had trouble remembering which was evil and which was preferred at first. Here’s how I remembered it:
Fish farming is illegal in Alaska, so I imagine pristine waters in the far north supplying my safe-to-eat salmon, swimming free (because they’re wild). I don’t think about the other “A” word. Just think “Alaska = wilderness = good salmon” and “wild = natural = good salmon”. When Gov. Palin ran for office last fall, that helped me put a face to the pristine Alaskan legislation, and it actually helped me remember the good salmon!
I read this information everywhere…except here, where they tell us to “feel good about farmed salmon.” Poor Atlantic salmon farmers. No one is buying their product!
Added Bonus: Most (all?) canned salmon is “Wild Alaskan“, and it’s the least expensive salmon to buy, so that’s great news!!! (Click here for my salmon patties recipe with canned salmon.)
Research published by the Environmental Working Group (July 30, 2003) indicates that farmed salmon poses a cancer risk because it may be carrying high levels of carcinogenic chemicals called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). PCBs have been banned in the US for use in all but completely closed areas since 1979, but they persist in the environment and end up in animal fat. When farmed salmon from U.S. grocery stores was tested, the farmed salmon, which contains up to twice the fat of wild salmon, was found to contain 16 times the PCBs found in wild salmon, 4 times the levels in beef, and 3.4 times the levels found in other seafood. Other studies done in Canada, Ireland and Britain have produced similar findings. For more on the nutritional differences between wild and farmed raised salmon, please see our article on this topic.
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