Wild Versus Farmed Salmon

Goals

To understand the consumer segments that are the biggest purchasers of salmon, and then further to get a breakdown on the consumer segments that purchase wild salmon versus farmed salmon, and then finally to understand the pros and cons of eating farmed verses wild salmon.

Early Findings

  • When you eat fish, you’re also consuming all of the pollutants the fish is exposed to, including a pollutant known as dioxins. Dioxins are a type of toxin that’s commonly released by incinerating trash. They tend to be stored in the fat tissue of animals, which is why 90 percent of human dioxin exposure is through food.
  • While dioxins are found in wild salmon too, research indicates that dioxin and dioxin-like compounds are found in higher concentrations in farmed salmon than wild-caught salmon.
  • Literature has pointed to a connection between the persistent organic pollutants like the ones found in farmed salmon, and insulin resistance, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
  • Healthy fats are essential fuel for our bodies and minds, but not all fats are equal. Both farmed and wild salmon are excellent sources of disease-preventing omega-3s. While farmed salmon is higher than wild salmon in overall fat and calories, it’s also higher in inflammatory omega-6 fats. Wild fish has a far better fatty acid ratio of omega-3 fats (anti-inflammatory fats) to omega-6 fats (pro-inflammatory fats).
  • Wild salmon contains the antioxidant astaxanthin (it’s what makes salmon meat appear dark pink). This anti-inflammatory molecule has a host of benefits, including possibly improving muscle endurance.
  • The densely packed nature of a fish farm can breed a lot of unpleasantness. The more salmon that are packed into the close quarters, the more excrement and uneaten food accumulates, upping the potential for parasites and disease to spread. This is made worse by the fact that farms operate in low current areas.
  • A 2005 study showed that the net benefits of eating wild Pacific salmon outweigh those of eating farmed Atlantic salmon, when the risks of chemical contaminants are considered, and concluded that wild salmon is the preferred choice.
  • This source lists the pros and cons of eating wild salmon versus farmed. Both wild caught and farm raised salmon have their advantages, as well as their drawbacks.
  • There are experts that argue farming practices are getting better and becoming more sustainable, and that farmed fish are being given healthier diets in an effort to improve their nutritional profiles. Merchants, like Whole Foods, have implemented very strict quality standards to ensure they’re sourcing farmed seafood from strictly regulated farms. Tim Fitzgerald, a scientist and sustainable seafood expert at the Environmental Defense Fund, told the New York Times that he believes it is reasonable to eat a mix of farmed and wild seafood, as completely avoiding the farmed variety “removes 50 percent of the US seafood supply from your choices.”
  • "Farmed salmon is much higher in fat, containing slightly more omega-3s, much more omega-6 and three times the amount of saturated fat. It also has 46% more calories which is mostly from fat. Conversely, wild salmon is higher in minerals, including potassium, zinc and iron. Though farmed salmon is much higher in omega-6 fatty acids than wild salmon, the total is still too low to cause concern."
  • In addition to this public search, we scanned our proprietary research database of over 1 million sources and were unable to find any specific research reports that address the stated goals.

Summation Of The Availability Of Information Relevant To The Goals

  • In our initial hour of research we were able to provide an overview of the pros and cons of eating farmed versus wild salmon.
  • We did not have time to research the consumer segments that are the biggest purchasers of salmon, and then further to get a breakdown on the consumer segments that purchase wild salmon versus farmed salmon.
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Proposed next steps:

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