If you read our “Tale of Two Salmon” post last week, you’ll remember that it contained a little soap box moment in the form of an exhortation to avoid farmed salmon. A reader, unhappy with our position, let us know in no uncertain terms that we were spreading malicious lies for no purpose other than perhaps to promote Alaska fishing. Our first reaction was to delete the comment and pretend nobody ever disagrees with what we write, but decided that would be dishonest. Our blog is mostly intended to be fun, but we also want it to get people to think about what they eat – where it comes from, what it does to their bodies, how it impacts our environment. So your comments, even when critical, are always welcome. And while we wish the reader would have come at the issue with a little less venom, we take the point.
The growing scientific consensus is that salmon aquaculture, for all its promise, is, on balance, an unsound practice. We aren’t trying to scare anyone. We just think people should think about whether they really need to eat salmon at all. We agree that the wild fisheries are under tremendous stress, but where those fisheries are deemed healthy and sustainable, we say eat the salmon when you can get it. But if the choice is between “affordable” farm-raised salmon or no salmon at all, our vote is for no salmon consumption. It’s time to let our wild fisheries heal.
A quick search of all that is available to us online on the subject yields far more than we could ever capture here, but we encourage anyone who is interested in doing their own homework to do so. It won’t take you long to discover that wildlife biologists of every stripe as well as fishermen, state and national governments and research institutions are all coming to the same conclusion – salmon aquaculture does more harm than good to the salmon fisheries. We include here a few links for your reference. The first link is very compelling in its examination of the impacts of salmon farming on British Columbia’s wild salmon populations. I particularly like the PBS link because it offers a counterpoint by a representative of the industry. All points of view should have a voice.
Our readers are always welcome to comment here. But we ask that we remain civil in our ongoing discussions of our food choices.
Steve & Jason
The response to your post was not civil, regrettably.
Your choices are based upon your best knowledge of the sustainability of your food sources, and are rational. You’re not expected to present a research effort with your cooking show. If you state an assumption and someone chooses to challenge, then a proper challenge is in the form of “You make this assertion; can you show where this knowledge comes from?” or something similarly respectful.
In the case of wild vs farmed salmon, I went through a period of confusion myself. One trusted local fish market sells farmed salmon and insists it’s identical in all respect to wild. I read reports of the penned open cage farms being incubation centers for disease that are causing major problems in the farmed industry as well as passing wild salmon. I read that the food used to farm salmon are corn-based, extending the reach of the corn economy and all the problems inherent in that subsidized and energy-intensive system.
I conclude, like you, that there are major issues with the farmed salmon industry that might not indicate the quality of a particular fish, but should guide us to choose food from more proven sustainable sources.