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6 Reasons to Go Wild: The Problems with Farm-Raised Fish

Jeremy Hendon | January 12
6 Reasons to go wild

Fish is incredibly nutritious.

However, by some estimates, as much as 90% of the fish in the United States is farm-raised.

What does this mean for you, your health, and your cooking?

6 Reasons Farm-Raised Fish is a Problem


farm-raised fish
1. Artificial Coloring.  Most Farm-Raised Salmon is naturally grey or white, rather than pink.  But because consumers prefer pink, salmon farmers routinely use chemical dyes to make their farmed salmon appear pink.

Big deal, right?? Unfortunately, some of these dyes have been linked to human eye defects and retinal damage.  More importantly, it means that you’re not really cooking with fresh, real ingredients any more.

2. Antibiotics.  You probably thought this was an issue just for cows, but because farm-raised fish are kept in close confinement, farmers often need to give them a lot of antibiotics to make sure they don’t infect each other with diseases.

3. Pesticides.  Sea lice are a common problem in fish farms, and the way to take care of them is to fill the water with pesticides.  Yummy.

4. Fewer Omega-3s.  Farm-raised fish tend to be higher in overall fat, but much lower in the percentage of that fat that is Omega-3.  That’s particularly bad news, since it means that you’re eating more harmful Omega-6 fats and fewer healthy Omega-3 fats.

5. Bad Labeling.  Unfortunately, much of the fish that is labeled “wild” isn’t fully wild.  Quite often, the “wild” salmon are raised for ½ of their lives in a farm, then released into the wild.  They’re at least a little bit healthier than fully farm-raised salmon (better Omega-3 fats), but toxins can still accumulate during the part of their lives they spent in a farm.

6. Taste.  As much as we love being healthy, that doesn’t mean that taste isn’t important.  There are a few people who prefer the taste of farm-raised fish (to each their own), but for the most part, wild fish is much more flavorful and “fishy,” which is the way that fish is supposed to taste.

Don’t Get Carried Away

It’s pretty clear that wild fish is better than farm-raised fish, if you can find and afford it.

However, if all you can get is farm-raised fish, don’t let that deter you.  There have been studies that have shown that the benefits of eating more fish (even if it’s farm-raised) far outweigh the risks.

Just in terms of heart disease versus cancer, eating more farm-raised fish would potentially prevent up to 370 times as many deaths as it would cause.

Images: Copyright © Marcin Chady cc and hiphoto39 from Fotolia