It is true that salmon is full of omega-3 fatty acids – at least some salmon. It is also true that omega-3 fatty acids can be a very healthy addition to your diet. But it isn’t true that just because it is salmon it is good for you. In fact, if you buy your salmon at a regular supermarket, there is a good chance that it isn’t one of the healthy ones.
Why is it not healthy to eat some salmon? Because much of what is sold in supermarkets and served in restaurants is actually farmed salmon. Studies show that farmed salmon have 60% to 70% less omega-3 fatty acids. They also contain much higher levels of cancer causing dioxins and PCBs. They also contain antibiotic residue – more than meat or any other domestic animal products.
These farmed salmon are simply not very good for you. They are hatched in plastic trays, crowded in unsanitary cages underwater, unnaturally fattened using soybean pellets, and treated with antibiotics and pesticides. They have to be fed a synthetic pigment to give them their pink color. This pigment contains canthaxanthin, which was used in sunless tanning pills until they were banned for human use.
These fish aren’t just bad for your health, however. They are also bad for the environment. The antibiotics used are creating new varieties of resistant bacteria that are killing other fish in the oceans. The pesticides used are killing shellfish and other bottom-dwelling ocean life.
Finding Healthy Salmon
Okay, so you decide that you don’t want to hurt your body and the environment. How do you avoid the unhealthy fish and eat only the healthy Salmon? Try natural food markets. The label should indicate if they are wild salmon. Ask if you aren’t sure. In restaurants you’ll have to ask the waiter or chef, although the more expensive restaurants will normally serve wild-caught salmon, because in addition to being healthier, they also taste better. Some canned salmon are clearly labeled as “wild caught.”
The fish farming industry claims that they are providing a healthy fish, and that fish farming helps to protect the wild salmon population from over-fishing. Essentially they are saying that their fish are good for you and good for the environment. Both of these assertions are lies.