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Wild Caught vs. Farm Raised
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