With so many different words, terms, and definitions used to describe the food labels associated with buying salmon, it is no wonder that there is a lot of confusion. Most typical salmon food labels include terms that utilize words like genetically modified, Scottish, farmed, organic, and wild.
Unless you have a thorough understanding of each of the previously mentioned terms and words, an understanding of the process that is associated with each of the words, and to a slight degree, a basic understanding of chemistry, it can be fairly difficult to choose the type of salmon that is the most nutritious and healthy for you. Below are several definitions and descriptions associated with the various ways in which each type of salmon is raised and how they are processed. From there, you can then determine which type is best for you and your family.
The Various Types of Salmon that You can Purchase
“Wild caught” is the most important label to look for when purchasing salmon. This label implies that the salmon was caught from the wild waters of it’s natural habitat. Many individuals are willing to pay a higher price to purchase wild organic salmon. When applied to fish, the term “organic” specifically means that the fish was not fed any antibiotics and lived off only sources of food within it’s natural habitat. However, even wild organic salmon may consume food that contains contaminants.
Farm raised salmon are salmon that are raised in a controlled environment and fed by man. When compared to wild salmon, farm raised salmon contain a higher percentage of fat and a higher level of contaminants. The farm raised salmon contain a higher percentage of fat due to the limited space in which they live.
In terms of contaminants, farm raised salmon live in an environment that is not as clean as their natural habitat and the food that they are fed contains contaminents such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), organo-chlorine pesticides, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, and pesticides. To compound the contamination problem, as previously mentioned, farm raised salmon contain a greater percentage of fat and that is where the contaminants are stored.
This being said, always try to purchase wild salmon when possible. However, if wild salmon is not available at your local grocery store or fish market, try to purchase Canadian farm raised salmon as it, on average, contains fewer contaminants.
Typically, both farm raised salmon and wild salmon do not contain significant levels of mercury. The primary reason why farm raised salmon is less healthy than wild salmon is that it often contains other toxins and contaminants, such as polychlorinated biphenyls and dioxin.
Several individuals have stated that farm raised salmon contain a higher level of omega-3s per ounce than that of wild salmon. However, several studies have concluded the exact opposite. Farm raised salmon do contain high levels of other fats including omega-6. The issue that then arises is that the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids compete for the same receptors within the human body.
Hence, the net omega-3 gain will always be greater in wild salmon. The reason for the higher levels of fat in the farmed raised salmon is that farm raised salmon are fed protein pellets and fish oil. Coupled with the fact that farm raised salmon have higher levels of contaminants, wild salmon is always a better choice.
FAS stands for “frozen at sea,” and is a food label that you will see on a lot of salmon that is supposedly fresh. However, this does not mean that you should avoid consuming FAS salmon. Remember, FAS salmon is salmon that is caught in the wild. In fact, FAS salmon outperformed truly fresh salmon in several taste tests. The reason due to the fact that wild, or fresh, salmon is difficult to properly handle and transport while at sea. In the United States, fresh wild salmon is typically only available from the middle of April until the end of October.
Considering which type of salmon to consume is not the only food staple where a choice needs to be made. In fact, virtually all animal, fruit, and vegetable food sources present the same choice. For example, fruits and vegetables can be purchased through growers that use pesticides and chemically based fertilizers or through organic growers.
In addition, all animal food sources pose the same question. Many of the non-organic suppliers of animal food sources use antibiotics to reduce the treat of their animals getting sick and growth hormones to increase their growth rate. In addition, many of the non-organic livestock suppliers feed their livestock with grains, corn, or soybeans that were grown using pesticides and chemical based fertilizers.
So what’s the bottom line? Whenever and wherever possible it is always preferable to consume foods that were grown or raised in their natural environment. By doing so, you will reduce the threat of consuming foods that contain pesticides, contaminants, growth hormones, and antibiotics.