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Wild Caught vs. Farm Raised

Updated on February 16, 2012
A farm raised salmon filet.
A farm raised salmon filet. | Source
A typical Tilapia filet.
A typical Tilapia filet. | Source

For the past 7 years, I have been standing behind the meat and seafood counters at the Lulawissie Gas and Grocery slinging meat and seafood items for my customers. I am frequently asked a myriad of questions about each item we sell and I always try to make a point to be completely honest with my clientele, even if it risks losing a sale.

Every time 20/20, or Dateline or a similar news show comes out with a negative report on the safety or quality of a meat or seafood item, my company immediately issues a memo to all of its stores coaching the associates on what to say or do when a concerned customer comes in and inquires about the news broadcast. What we are coached to say is usually a line of B.S. that beats around the bush or tells the customer what they want to hear in order to keep selling a product that may not be so good for you. I generally read the memo so I am up on what is going on, and then I ignore it. My customers come in to my department because they know that I will not steer them wrong. I have gone so far as to call a competitor to find my regular customers a lower price on an item because we are forbidden to markdown prices. Believe it or not, this keeps the customers coming back.

In the seafood department, we have two top selling items: Salmon and Tilapia, both of them are farm raised, and both of them are extremely bad for your health.

Let’s start with the Tilapia. It is a hearty, large growing fish, originally from the Middle East. It has a good, mild flavor and is very popular in restaurants. Many people turn to Tilapia as a dietary exchange for red meat and pork. But the truth be told, Tilapia is higher in saturated fat than an equal amount of pork or even a donut. Farm-raised tilapia, one of the most highly consumed fish in America, has very low levels of valuable omega-3 fatty acids and, worse yet, very high levels of omega-6 fatty acids, according to research from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine. The research shows that the combination could very well be a hazardous food source for some patients with heart disease, arthritis, asthma and other allergic and auto-immune diseases that are predominantly vulnerable to an "exaggerated inflammatory response." Inflammation is known to cause damage to blood vessels, the heart, lung and joint tissues, skin, and the digestive tract. Tilapia has higher levels of potentially detrimental omega-6 fatty acids than 80-percent-lean hamburger (ground chuck), donuts and even pork bacon. For individuals who are eating fish as a method to control inflammatory diseases such as heart disease, it is clear that tilapia is not a good choice. All other nutritional content aside, the inflammatory potential of hamburger and pork bacon is lower than the average serving of farmed tilapia.

As for Salmon, anything “wild caught” is the best way to go.

Farm raised salmon, like Tilapia, is one of the worst things that you can put into your body. Farmed salmon are raised in crowded mesh pens anchored in bays and inlets. To help prevent the spread of disease, the fish are fed food pellets that contain antibiotics. Farmed salmon are fed more antibiotics per pound than any other livestock in America. Also, the excrement produced at salmon farms taints the nearby ocean environment and other marine habitat. The excrement from one large fish farm equals the sewage of a city of 10,000 people. The salmon are swimming around in this sewage as well, ingesting its poisons with every cycle of respiration. The feed that is given to these fish are also laden with color enhancers and growth hormones. The color enhancers cause the fish’s flesh to turn a reddish pink color which is an attempt to match the rich color of the wild Sockeye Salmon. It has been proven that consuming too much of these farm raised, color enhanced fish will cause a color change in human flesh as well, along with other detrimental side effects.

Wild caught salmon is the healthier choice over farmed salmon. The wild caught salmon is also far superior to farmed salmon, in taste, quality, texture and appearance. Wild salmon swim freely and feed freely in the remote, unspoiled waters of the Gulf of Alaska, and contain no antibiotics and no growth hormones. Wild salmon is also a healthy and natural source of omega- 3 fatty acids and high in antioxidants.

How Fresh is “Fresh”?

A couple of times a year, we get in some “fresh” Sockeye Salmon that is wild caught out of Alaskan waters. Pacific sockeye salmon are among the most highly prized of the wild salmon species (for their rich red color and firm texture); however attempts to farm them have not been commercially successful. Sockeye have a unique diet and lifecycle that are not easily replicated in an aquaculture environment, but you can be sure that scientists are working on it.

By the time a “fresh” wild caught salmon fillet lands in your local grocery store, it has been out of the water for 3 to 5 days. It has been kept cold, on the edge of freezing, until it is delivered. Chances are it sits in a delivery truck overnight at a seafood warehouse before it comes to your local market. Your best bet, in my opinion, is to buy the frozen wild caught salmon. The frozen fish are flash frozen within a matter of minutes to a couple of hours, not days, of leaving the water. They are processed at the harvesting point on factory ships at sea. Pound for pound, the frozen wild caught salmon will be fresher than the in-store fresh fish. Frozen Sockeye is usually available year round.

Other Salmon Options

There are other salmon options which are available year round as well. The Keta Salmon sometimes called the Silverbright Salmon or Chum Salmon is a smaller but more plentiful species of salmon. They rarely grow over 10 pounds and are commonly thrown back when caught in the nets with their larger companions. They too are rich in the Omega-3 fatty acids and have all of the same health benefits as their more robust cousins, but at a much lower price. Many stores such as Kroger carry these fish on a regular basis.

When purchasing a package of frozen fish, make sure that somewhere on the package it says “Wild Caught”. If it is not on the front, you will find it on the back in small lettering. It is a violation of federal law to not have this labeling on every pack of meat or fish along with the country of origin. As for me, I always look for “Wild Caught/Product of USA”.

Thank you for your time.

©2012 by Del Banks


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    • badegg profile imageAUTHOR

      Del Banks 

      4 years ago from Southern Appalachians

      So much for the guy from Springfield, Missouri!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Great article, thank you for your honesty

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Wild Alaskan Salmon is now available in our Supermarkets in Britain and I have to disagree that the quality is better than a farmed Atlantic Salmon - it isn't, it's worse, and that was the consensus of 5 people at a recent dinner party . Maybe it's something to do with the vacuum packing and thousands of miles of transit from Alaska, but I used Sainsburys Wild Alaskan Salmon (Coho or Sockeye) and it was really disappointing. Dry, thin flakes, and a really strong salmon taste is how I'd sum it up. There were leftovers.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Very good hub Del. this is very helpful, gonna share this to my mother and surely she will enjoy it. she likes to go to the grocery and buy goods for us.

    • ptrg777 profile image


      5 years ago from New York

      Nice hub here! I try to avoid farm raised but sometimes being in NY it's hard. Very educational...thanks!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      5 years ago from Arizona

      I have been hearing about the downside of Tilapia...Guess it won't reach my dinner table. Thanks for all this valuable information.

    • writinginalaska profile image


      5 years ago from southeast Alaska

      i live in Alaska. NEVER NEVER NEVER buy or eat farmed fish ewwwww. great hub!

    • badegg profile imageAUTHOR

      Del Banks 

      5 years ago from Southern Appalachians

      Thank you so much for your support. It makes me happy to know that I can help someone to eat better and improve their quality of life...even if it is just one meal at a time.

    • nina64 profile image

      Nina L James 

      5 years ago from chicago, Illinois

      Thank you for such a well written hub!!!! I will definitely use this information the next time I go shopping for salmon. I did not know that these farm raised salmon were being fed growth hormones. As far as them being caged up with other salmon swimming around in their own excrement is not healthy for them or us. This information will surely guide us consumers in purchasing the right kinds of fish that will be better for us in the long run. Again, wonderful hub. Voted up and away!!!!!!

    • badegg profile imageAUTHOR

      Del Banks 

      5 years ago from Southern Appalachians

      Thank you so much!

    • FullOfLoveSites profile image


      5 years ago from United States

      thank you much for an informative hub. Another food for the thought on my lists. great hub.

    • badegg profile imageAUTHOR

      Del Banks 

      5 years ago from Southern Appalachians

      You are quite welcome. Let me know if I can be of help.

    • Trish303 profile image


      5 years ago from Springfield, MO

      I love fish. My family eats it all the time. I prefer wild, because to me fame always have a funny after taste. I say it taste like bad corn but that is just me. But we eat what ever we can buy that week.

      badegg I'm glad you pointed that out as I buy North Atlantic cod all the time. I will have to do some reach on this, and will stop buying it as well until I know if it is safe or not. Thank you.

    • badegg profile imageAUTHOR

      Del Banks 

      6 years ago from Southern Appalachians

      To Twilight Lawns: I noticed on your response a few months ago, that you commented on eating wild caught Salmon from off of the coast of Scandinavia. It suddenly dawned on me (being a WWII history buff) that fish from the North Sea may have been contaminated over the years by the leaking chemical warfare drums that the Third Reich dumped in the sea as the allies were closing in. I have learned that the deep dwelling fish (cod, etc) especially have shown signs of contamination. We have since stopped buying North Atlantic cod. Perhaps you should look into that issue there in England as a precaution.

    • badegg profile imageAUTHOR

      Del Banks 

      6 years ago from Southern Appalachians

      At least you're eating healthfully!

    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 

      6 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      I have just finished a meal of (among other things) wild caught salmon.

      What a coincidence!

    • RobinGrosswirth23 profile image

      Robin Grosswirth 

      6 years ago from New York

      People should understand that the food we consume is good medicine if our diets are clean. Foods drive our systems--the fuel.

    • badegg profile imageAUTHOR

      Del Banks 

      6 years ago from Southern Appalachians

      Thank you so much, Robin, for the compliments. It pays nowadays to be a little more careful with what we put into our bodies. There are so many dangerous things out there anymore, not like when our parents were kids.

    • RobinGrosswirth23 profile image

      Robin Grosswirth 

      6 years ago from New York

      You confirmed what I already knew, but have been arguing with people about---that wild v farm is healthier.

      Unfortunately, I have consumed a lot of farmed salmon and that saddens me because I have taken great care to be more vegetarian and clean in my diet. However, I will correct this now given the excellent information you have put out in this hub.

      You are a wonderful communicator. Continue being prolific.

    • UnnamedHarald profile image

      David Hunt 

      6 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

      Very interesting article-- full of useful information. I didn't know much about tilapia. My stepson manages the Yukon river basin in Alaska for Alaska Fish and Game and he's warned us about the dangers of farmed fish. Also, wild-caught salmon sales support native subsistance fishermen/women. Voted interesting and useful.

    • badegg profile imageAUTHOR

      Del Banks 

      6 years ago from Southern Appalachians

      Catching your own fish is the best way to go, but be aware of the water source!!

    • MrAungst profile image


      6 years ago from Penna

      This is great info. A lot of people aren't aware of this information. Me personally, I enjoy catching my own fish, mostly trout, right from the creek. It tastes better when you put the work in, and it doesn't get much fresher than that.

    • badegg profile imageAUTHOR

      Del Banks 

      6 years ago from Southern Appalachians

      You're quite welcome, Twilight...thanks for reading!

    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 

      6 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      Great hub. Thank you. You may be surprised to learn that in 35 minutes I will be eating "Live Caught, Wild Salmon" caught somewhere off the coast of Scandinavia.

      I love this fish, and love it even more after reading your excellent and informative article.

      Marked UP and USEFUL.

      Thanks again.

    • badegg profile imageAUTHOR

      Del Banks 

      6 years ago from Southern Appalachians

      Here is a link to an interesting article:

    • Pollyannalana profile image


      6 years ago from US

      Wow, glad I caught this. Tilapia is one of the meats I eat most of and this is horrible! Thank you for writing this and letting us know. I was just preparing to make this my only meat, and what a mistake that would have been. It is so hard to believe the government or anyone anymore. It is just so wrong!

      Voted way up!


    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 

      6 years ago from Indiana

      Great hub, I'm glad you shared this.

      Most consumers don't realize that the color has been added to the farm-raised salmon. And as you have pointed out the levels of "heart healthy omega-3s" go down drastically because they are not feeding in the wild. I recall running across a research report that grass-feed beef end up having high concentrations of omega-3's than farm-raised salmon.

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 

      6 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Hello badegg. Wow! there is a lot of good information in this hub. I am sure your customers appreciate your honesty, I know I would. We don't care for salmon, so I am safe there. The only fish we eat is what we catch out of our own ponds. We sometimes feed them fish pellets. I am going to be checking on what is in them. Thank you for this very good information. Voted this up, useful and socially sharing everywhere I can! :)

    • badegg profile imageAUTHOR

      Del Banks 

      6 years ago from Southern Appalachians

      I am glad that I could be of some help to you all! Thanks for reading!

    • reikieffect profile image


      6 years ago

      Wow! Frankly I didn't knew nothing about this. Thanks for the information, very useful!

    • scottrights profile image


      6 years ago from San Diego

      I've read quite a bit about how the food pellets fed to farm raised salmon contain a lot of bad things... nice article.

    • Healthy Pursuits profile image

      Karla Iverson 

      6 years ago from Oregon

      Thanks for the great info! I avoid farm raised fish of all kinds. I'm lucky to live in the Northwest, where I have access to wild fish of several kinds. The Alaska salmon is my favorite. Thanks for the tip about buying it frozen.

    • CJ Andrews profile image

      Chris Andrews 

      6 years ago from Norwalk, Ohio

      Some interesting information there. I will have to pass this along to my mother-in-law who loves tilapia.


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