The Truth About Salmon

Excerpts from The Trouble With Salmon by Taras Grescoe

Best Life Magazine; May 2009 issue

The unbelievable truth about salmon is that it may pose serious danger to your health and to the planet.  90% of the fresh salmon eaten in the United States now comes from a farm. Industrial-scale fish farming promotes overcrowding, disease, contamination from pollutants, and overmedication with pesticides.

Norwegian multi-nationals own most of the world's fisheries.  Here's what makes them so destructive:

1)  Wildlife - Confining millions of salmon in the wild attracts eagles, killer whales, and other predators.  Farmers are given permits to shoot seals and sea lions!!!
2)  Lights - These attract juvenile wild salmon, which are eaten by foreign Atlantic farmed salmon! 
3)  Pellets - American taxpayer dollars subsidize soy and make it a cheap ingredient for salmon fish meal.  Soy makes the farmed fish much higher in inflammatory omega-6s than wild salmon.  High omega-6 consumption can lead to a host of human health problems such as heart disease, depression, cancer, and Alzheimer's.
4)  Wild fish - Farmed salmon need an astonishing, unsustainable four pounds of wild-caught fish to grow one pound of flesh.  The feed is spiked with pesticides (to kill sea lice; and artificial colorants (to make the flesh of the fish pink.)
5)  Sea lice - Salmon farms attract sea lice, which then infect wild stocks.  A single louse can kill a juvenile fish.  (For a baby salmon, being infected with a single sea louse is the equivalent to having an adult raccoon attached to your abdomen.
6)  Seafloor - Feces mixes with un-eated feed pellets to make the ocean floor ecosystem uninhabitable for shrimp and small fish.
7)  The Final Product - Farmed salmon contain up to 10 times more persistent organic pollutants--dioxins, PCBs...--than wild salmon.

In 2005, then-senator Ted Stevens of Alaska pushed through the country-of origin labeling (COOL) law for seafood.  In theory, requiring fishmongers to tell you where their fish comes from and whether it is wild or farmed.  In practice, wholesale markets, restaurant menus, and processed seafood are exempt; enforcement and fines are ridiculously low.  In a cross-country sting operation, Consumer Reports found that 56% of salmon labeled "wild" in supermarkets was actually farmed.  --That means you need to find a fishmonger you can trust. 

REMEMBER:  Wild Alaskan salmon is always the healthiest choice for your body and the planet, and farmed is generally never a good choice.