Salmon is good for you, right? Sure, but only if it’s wild. The fish in the ocean may even pick up a harmless amount of naturally-occurring mercury. But we're not talking about the fish in the ocean - we're talking about the fish you eat.
Meet the Franken-Salmon
Whether with cattle, chicken, pigs, or salmon, American companies are sticking to the formula of raising animals for mass consumption.
How is it done? First, crowd as many of the species in one place as possible to maximize space. Second, feed them corn and soy along with other ingredients. Then, pump the species up with antibiotics to combat the junk diet and crowded conditions. Finally, pretend that this is animal is exactly the same as those raised in natural conditions.
Now, imagine yourself in the grocery store. Which color of salmon would you choose - pink or jailhouse gray? The latter is the color of farm-raised salmon. They don't eat algae or crustaceans and miss out on the carotenoids in their corn soy fish pellets. Not only are the farm-raised salmon gray, but all of those omega 3′s we thought we were getting just don’t occur in similar quantities as they do in wild salmon.
Our Fish Have Bad Diets
When a salmon, swimming around the ocean, eats its normal diet of crustaceans, algae and other sea nutrients, it absorbs the naturally occurring carotenoids and omega oils from them. Carotenoids are pigments that second as potent antioxidants, which are beneficial for the fish and anything that eats them. Just like in carrots and other orange and red foods, carotenoids change the color of the salmon’s muscle, making it a nice pinkish color.
The chemically-based approach to raising salmon is problematic, and two of the biggest issues you should be concerned with are Petrochemical additives and Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs).
Now You're Cooking With...Petroleum?
The industry’s solution to the unnattractiveness of gray salmon meat is to add a color additive for a fresher, pinker look. As with most food additives, the two that are principally used in salmon are derived from petroleum. Canthaxanthin and astaxanthin are the petrochemicals used to color our fish so that it looks pretty.
And we buy it! This is nothing new, as similar color additives are used on many of the fruits, vegetables and foods that we buy every day. The FDA says these petroleum-based color additives are fit for human consumption, but I still recommend wild salmon.
More Bad News
It all has to do with the corn and soy fish pellets that farm-raised salmon are eating, but to truly understand what is going on we need to go back to the year 1929, the year that PCB’s were first produced.
Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB’s) were created by man and don’t occur naturally. They were originally used in products such as motor oil, oil based paints and electrical cables... and are known toxins that have been proven to lead to cancer in animals. This fact most likely led to them being banned by the EPA in 1977. Unfortunately, these chemicals won’t go away. They are non-flammable, have a high boiling point, are fat soluble and persist in our environment, especially in the fish pellets that are fed to the salmon.
In 2003, the Environmental Working Group studied farm-raised salmon and found that it is the most PCB contaminated source of protein in the United States.
"If farmed salmon with the average PCB level found in this study were caught in the wild, EPA advice would restrict consumption to no more than one meal a month," according to the EWG study. "But because farmed salmon are bought, not caught, their consumption is not restricted in any way."
Watch What You Eat
We all need to eat real food. The farther a food gets from its natural source, the worse it is for us. We can’t assume that a government agency is going to protect us. We must be vigilant about the foods we eat and stick to the basic principle of Nature First.