What Is Wild Caught Salmon?

Most often, I buy wild Sockeye, Coho, or King Salmon. Salmon that has been taken while still in its native habitat is referred to as wild-caught salmon. Depending on the specific salmon species, this can encompass rivers, lakes, and oceans. This kind of salmon is not only much healthier, but it also typically has a more vivid red-orange hue and a distinctly savory, nuanced flavor.

The higher (and hence healthier) ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids found in wild salmon makes it a better choice than farmed salmon, among other things. While both of these fatty acids are necessary for good health, humans typically consume an excessive amount of Omega-6 fats. primarily because of processed food. And regrettably, most people don’t consume enough omega-3 fatty acids.

Salmon raised in farms has more Omega-6 fats than salmon taken in the wild, so it doesn’t have as much of an anti-inflammatory nutritional punch.

Wild-caught salmon’s better fatty acid composition is directly tied to their nutrition. While farmed salmon are frequently provided pellet feed comprising a blend of grains, plants, and fish meal, wild-caught salmon are able to eat off of animals found in their habitat such asinsects, invertebrates, plankton, other fish, and shrimp.

Salmon consumption has increased over the previous ten years, which has raised some questions about the sustainability of wild-caught salmon. You may be aware that overfishing can be a serious issue.

The good news is that Alaskan sockeye, coho, and king salmon have all received sustainable status certification from the Marine Stewardship Council.

Farm-Raised and Wild-Caught Fish and Seafood Definition

Let’s define farm-raised and wild-caught seafood first, before we move on.

Farm-Grown Fish

Both fish raised in enormous tanks and fish raised in regulated enclosures that are located inside lakes, oceans, or rivers are considered farm-produced fish. Fish farmed in farms are bred to be more affordable and widely available to consumers. In the US, farm-raised fish currently accounts for 90% of all fish consumption.

The fact that salmon are fed a poor-quality fish feed made up of a combination of maize, grains, fish oil, and ground-up wild-caught fish is largely to blame for the low quality that has been associated with farmed fish. In the case of salmon aquaculture, food coloring is also added to the fishmeal, giving the salmon the pink hue we associate with fish. Farm-raised fish are naturally a sort of gray tint due to their restricted diet. Because they consume krill, which gets its color from red algae, wild salmon appear pink.

Fish Caught Wild

Fishermen catch wild fish in the fish’s native environments, such as rivers, lakes, and oceans. The fundamental advantage of wild-caught salmon is that it only consumes creatures that are naturally present in its environment, which is much more variety than the typical diet of farmed fish.

Since wild fish don’t have the same risk of illness or infection as seafood raised in farms, the benefit of wild-caught fish not possessing antibiotics is also a benefit.

While both kinds of fish are typically safe to consume, it is best to get them from a reputable restaurant, grocery store, or even better, directly from the source.

Regardless, each approach has some definite advantages and disadvantages. Here is a closer examination of a few distinct aspects, including dietary value, environmental impact, and more.

Choosing wild salmon is healthier

Because wild salmon enjoy a more organic diet, there are fewer PCBs in the fillets and portions that we as consumers eat. A seven-pound live salmon is an animal made entirely of muscle, as anyone who has tried to handle one knows. Because they live a long-distance swimming lifestyle, wild salmon contain less fat and therefore fewer calories. A serving of farmed salmon has a similar amount of protein as a serving of wild salmon, but the latter has fewer calories and a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals including potassium, zinc, and calcium.

Wild salmon versus salmon from farms

In undeveloped areas like lakes, rivers, and oceans, wild salmon is fished.

But fish farms, which utilize an approach known as aquaculture to raise fish for human consumption, are where half of the salmon sold globally originates.

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization projects that by 2030, fish farms will supply nearly two-thirds of the world’s fish consumption (2, 3).

While farmed salmon are fed a refined, high fat, high protein diet that makes them bigger than wild salmon, which consume various species found in their natural environment (4).

Salmon that is raised in farms is being produced at an exponential rate. Wild salmon live in an entirely different environment and have a completely different diet.

Salmon that is wild is untainted.

You get all the nutrients you might anticipate when you choose wild salmon, including vitamins, minerals, and good fats. You may want to give farmed salmon some second thought because you are getting a lot more.

According to studies conducted over the past two decades, conventional fish farms’ farmed salmon is frequently contaminated with high concentrations of PCBs, dioxins, and pesticides. These toxins are all linked to an increased risk of cancer, endocrine problems, and developmental defects. According to a study by the Environmental Working Group, poisons found in fish feed were mostly to blame for the considerable contamination found in 7 out of every 10 farmed salmon fillets purchased from U.S. grocery stores.

Wild salmon from Alaska are capable of living their greatest salmon lives without any human interference, including without additional pesticides, tainted feed, or antibiotics. They are free to travel through naturally flowing streams to search for wild prey, as they have done for eons. Wild salmon are abundant in nutrients and free of pollutants when they have access to these natural environments.

the several varieties of salmon

Salmon is the fish that Americans eat the most, partly because it has a lot of omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for the heart. Salmon tops the list of fish that are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids as a whole.

The natural population of salmon swimming in open waters has, however, been diminished as a result of its popularity. As a result, farmed salmon is becoming prevalent since consumer demand is increasing faster than the rate of high tide.

Atlantic salmon is frequently used in farmed salmon. The five varieties of Pacific salmon that are often found in wild-caught salmon are chinook (king), sockeye, coho, pink, and chum. (Sockeye are most prevalent.)

According to Zumpano, it is now true that both Atlantic and Pacific salmon are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. But there is much more to think about when choosing fish at the counter if you dig further into the dietary information.

The shade is proper.

Wild salmon has a richer reddish-orange tint, but farmed salmon is paler and more pink. Since farmed fish aren’t upstream fighting currents like wild fish are, farmed fish will also have a lot more fatty marbling in its flesh—those wavy white lines. According to Miller, you can usually tell when fillets are farmed because they are too homogeneous and perfectly colored.

Salmon taken in the wild is it healthy?

It can be challenging to balance the advantages of farmed salmon for your health with its pollutant load. Here are some things to remember:

  • Eat more salmon! Salmon has a high protein content as well as omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to have positive effects on the heart and brain. Both wild salmon and fish from farms are excellent options.
  • Young children and women who are fertile should keep eating fish that is known to be free of pollutants. See our recommendations for women and kids and our healthy fish guide.
  • Reduce the amount of fat in fish by properly preparing and cooking it. Check out our advice for lowering contact with chemical pollutants in fish.

Why is wild salmon superior?

This is a complex topic in the conflict between wild and farmed animals. Both types of fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, but consuming a much of either to get the advantages could expose you to toxins that cause cancer.

These compounds are found in wild salmon because the fish swim in possibly polluted rivers. The higher PCB levels in farmed salmon come from the food they are given.

The best course of action is to limit your seafood consumption. When trying to obtain omega-3 fatty acids, try to think of seafood as simply one component of the jigsaw, suggests Zumpano. Flaxseed, chia seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, and soy products are additional excellent sources.

The bottom line: Consuming huge amounts of salmon, whether wild or farmed, can be risky. However, most research find that wild salmon is safer when ingested in moderation.

What distinguishes wild salmon from fish that has been caught in the wild?

Salmon that has been caught that has had any part of its life cycle affected by humans, including being born in a hatchery, is referred to as wild-caught. Genetically, wild and wild-caught salmon are highly similar. The majority of the wild-caught salmon sold now comes from the Pacific Ocean.

Does wild salmon have a distinct flavor?

A lot of individuals like farmed salmon since it often has a softer flavor and a more sensitive texture. Additionally, farm-raised salmon has large, meaty portions of intramuscular fat that, when cooked, yield readily flaked and juicy pieces.

Many home cooks and chefs adore and seek out wild salmon because of its considerably more distinct and potent fish flavor. However, the stronger flavor might occasionally be repulsive, thus it depends on personal preference.

Does Costco sell wild or farmed salmon?

Farm-raised Atlantic salmon is available in both fresh and frozen forms. Although salmon industrial farming is a complex topic, open net farms that are located in the ocean are generally seen as unsustainable and harmful to the ecosystem.

The wild-caught, much more environmentally beneficial option is the sockeye salmon.

This is the PRIMARY justification for choosing sockeye salmon over Atlantic salmon when shopping.

Does fake salmon exist?

Nearly two thirds (63%) of the “wild salmon” that was sold in restaurants throughout the winter, when it is not in season, was not. Even if just 20% of the retail samples examined were false, that is a significant number.

What salmon is the best in the world?

Many people believe that Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tschawytscha), often known as King salmon, has the finest flavor of all the salmon species.

Is mercury content in wild salmon high?

  • Mercury levels in salmon are minimal. In comparison to most other fish species, Atlantic salmon, both wild and farmed, has substantially lower mercury levels. The average amount of mercury in a gram of farmed salmon is 0.05 micrograms. The FDA and EPA, which produce the United States Dietary Guidelines for Americans, have determined that these amounts are substantially below what is considered safe for women and children (DGA).
  • It is suggested as a seafood dish of “top choice.” Salmon is one of the top seafood options for a safe and healthy diet, especially for women who are or may become pregnant, nursing moms, and small children, according to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Salmon is among the low-mercury seafood that the FDA and DGA advise consistently eating two to three servings a week.
  • The beneficial omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are abundant in salmon. Farmed Atlantic salmon is one of the greatest options for having a high EPA and DHA to low mercury ratio because it has more than 15 grams of EPA and DHA per gram and 0.05 micrograms of mercury per gram, according to a joint FAO and WHO assessment.

Farmed Atlantic salmon has less than 0.05 micrograms of mercury per gram and more than 15 grams of EPA/DHA per gram.

  • In addition to its health advantages, farmed salmon is a nutrient-rich food that is kind to the environment. Salmon raised on farms has a lower carbon footprint than other sources of protein, requires less space, and makes better use of feed resources.

In conclusion, you can rest well knowing that eating seafood twice a week has many nutritious advantages and surpasses any potential mercury hazards.

In order to raise farmed salmon that is better for people and the environment, GSI members must make sure that the fish they raise are safe, healthy, and low in mercury.