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Wild Salmon vs. Farmed Salmon – Which is Better?

by ethicalDeal guest blogger Brittany Eidsness, RHN


(Photo by gkdavie, via Creative Commons)

Whoever told you there are plenty of good fish in the sea was just wrong, though my mother is still hoping it’s true.

Overfishing, damage to fish habitats, and the tragedy of bycatch have depleted much of the world’s supply of fish. In an effort to meet the enormous consumer appetite, and make a buck off of it, companies have resorted to farming fish. But similar to other factory farming based food production systems, the results of farmed salmon to date are grim. Farming has negative consequences for consumers, fish and the ecosystems they live in.


Wild salmon vs. farmed salmon nutritional facts

Let’s dive right into the nutritional facts of farmed fish. While the overall fat content of farmed fish is higher than wild, it’s not the good fat we’re getting more of. Wild salmon, for example, has up to 33% higher concentration of omega 3’s than its farmed cousin. Farmed fish are higher in inflammatory omega 6’s and, since toxins are stored in fat, these fish also carry a heavier toxic load than the wild variety.

Not only does wild salmon have a better fat profile it also has a significantly higher vitamin A and vitamin D concentration: eight times and three times more respectively. Better yet, wild salmon has 20% more protein.

Finally, perhaps the most commonly cited concern with consuming fish:  the chemicals. As you may have suspected, farmed fish have a higher toxicity level, by far. PCB’s, toxaphenes, dioxins and 10 other carcinogenic contaminants in BC farmed salmon were measured in a 2004 study (Global Assessment of Organic Contaminants) that revealed startling results. The farmed salmon from BC, while better than farmed salmon from some other areas of the world, was toxic. An analysis by (part of the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform) revealed that the allowable consumption of farmed salmon should be restricted to once a month. Imagine that, a food source so compromised by toxins you should only eat it once a month – now that’s wild!


Choose wild salmon

So how do you ensure you find yourself a good catch?  First, don’t go fishin’ at the local watering hole.  Second, pay a few extra bucks and eat wild, sustainably caught fish. Check out organizations like Ocean Wise, SeaChoice and Greenpeace for the companies they support. Better yet, go to your local farmers market and ask the suppliers about their fish practices.


About the author:

Brittany Eidsness is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN), Paleo-diet enthusiast, blogger, speaker, advisor and all-around complete food nerd. Check her out at and @wild_lives.


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