What to Know When You Buy Salmon…

There is so much to consider about buying salmon. I sure didn’t realize any of this so thought I’d share.

1) Salmon are carnivores. In the wild they start eating microscopic plants and animals. As they get bigger they eat tiny crustaceans (krill) which gives them their pink color and then larger fish.

2) Farmed salmon is a nice gray color.  Hmmm… but salmon farmers resort to cosmetics to change it to that nice pink color in the grocery store.  Dye is added to feed pellets. Salmon absorb this into their flesh.  Farmed salmon is *supposed* to be labeled “color added” but many sellers ignore this. 

3) Farmed fish eat the equivalent of dog food — tiny pellets with soy protein, wheat, vitamins, fish meal, meat and bone meal.  Fish meal (ground up fish) and fish oil in the feed have much higher levels of PCBs. Farmed-raised fish eat these pellets from the beginning and so accumulate PCBs and other pollutants from the time they are tiny. So, farmed-raised fish accumulate higher levels of PCBs than the wild ones that roam the ocean.

4) Most salmon is imported. The coasts off of Europe have much higher levels of PCBs in their waters than elsewhere. Just something to keep in mind when you shop for fish. Fish is *supposed* to be labeled with its country of origin (though US ships fishing off the coasts of Europe would be labeled American… so ultimately it’s a bit difficult to trace exact origin).

I’ve just brought out some highlights from a small section of an amazing resource book I’ve been reading called, What to Eat by Marion Nestle. I’ve had it checked out of the library so long I think I might need to buy this to have my own copy!

One last thing, the book  also said that pregnant women and children should probably not to eat albacore tuna (along with swordfish, shark, tilefish, and king mackerel) because of the methylmercury (from industrial waste). The tuna lobby worked hard to keep these recommendations/advisories widely known.  Albacore tuna is the expensive canned kind… and seems to have up to 3 times more methylmercury than the “chunk light” (cheaper) tunas you find in cans.

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