|Photos: Jennifer Emerling|
When faced with the decision to buy factory farmed or 100% wild salmon, dramatic price differences usually make the call for most people. However, consumers must take into account the health risks of these choices.
Factory farmed fish are fed a steady diet of protein pellets containing dioxins, PCBs, fire retardants, pesticides (for sea lice), antibiotics, copper sulfate (to keep nets free of algae), and dye that has been linked to human retinol damage (without it, the flesh would be grey). Gross.
Not only are there health risks involved with eating factory farmed fish, but there are major ecological consequences. "Fish wastes and uneaten feed smother the sea floor beneath these farms, generating bacteria that consume oxygen vital to shellfish and other bottom-dwelling sea cultures," reports Kenneth R Weiss of the LA Times. "Disease and parasites, which would normally exist in relatively low levels in fish scattered around the oceans, can run rampant in densely packed fish farms."
Factory fish farms yield much higher numbers than can be produced naturally which enables their prices to be significantly lower. However, as is the case with all cheaply produced industrial agriculture, you get what you pay for. One solution is to buy less salmon so you can afford 100% wild. We get ours from Santa Monica Seafood but most canned varieties are wild also. Keep in mind that salmon is seasonal and only with us until October. The best we've been sourcing is from the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, and yes, our menu prices reflect the high market value, but we are supporting sustainable agriculture and consumer health which in the end is more valuable than other commodities with heavy price tags, don't you think?