Fish is a very healthy food to include in your diet that contains healthy fats, high-quality protein, and an assortment of micronutrients.
Many fatty fish like salmon can be an excellent source of healthy omega-3 fats which are essential for our health.
Although, like any animal protein, not all fish is the same.
While certain types of fish are very good for you, others can actually be harmful to your health.
There is a substantial different between wild-caught fish and farm-raised fish.
It’s estimated that half of the fish eaten by Americans is farm-raised. (1)
This article will outline some of the potential dangers of consuming farm-raised fish.
** Always choosing low-mercury fish is also important
What are Farm Raised Fish?
Wild-caught fish is exactly what is sounds like. Fish that were caught in the wild which humans have done for thousands of years.
These fish are living and eating the way mother nature intended getting their species specific diet.
Farmed fish on the other-hand are raised in pens that are submerged in lakes, ponds, and salt water.
The fish are confined to a small space and fed all sorts of fish scraps and garbage that they would not eat naturally in the wild.
A salmon farm can hold up to 2 million salmon in a fairly small space.
It's essentially the equivalent of confined animal feedlot operations for livestock, but for fish.
Dangers of Farm Raised Fish
1. Farm-Raised Fish Contains More Toxic Chemicals
Studies done by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) have found high amounts of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) which are toxic chemicals found in plastics and various other things. (2)
Farm-raised fish are also high in dioxins, which are known to be carcinogenic (cancer causing) and harmful to your immune system, endocrine system, and reproductive system.
Farm-raised salmon has been shown to have 11 times the concentration of toxins than wild-caught salmon. (3)
Antibiotics are another major issue in farmed fish (also in factory farmed CAFO meat). They are given to the fish to stave off disease, but those antibiotics get into our bodies and cause cause great harm to our microbiome.
These are just a few of the known chemicals found in much higher concentrations in farm-raised fish compared to wild-caught (4)
2. Chemical Coloring is Added to Farm-Raised Salmon
Wild-salmon get their pink color from the antioxidant rich plankton they eat which are a great source of astaxanthin, a very beneficial nutrient.
Since farmed salmon don’t get this essential nutrient, they come out looking grey in color.
Obviously, nobody would buy grey, sick looking salmon.
So, the farmers give the salmon a chemical called canthaxanthin which is a synthetic pigment used to give farmed salmon a pink color.
The UK has banned the use of canthaxanthin, but the U.S still allows its use despite possible dangers to our health.
This is a clearly an issue and consuming it poses a risk to your health. I mean c’mon, would you really eat grey salmon?
3. Farm-raised Fish has inferior fats to wild-caught fish
Farm-raised salmon has been shown to have lower levels of omega-3 fats and higher levels of omega-6 fats.
One of the many benefits of eating fish is the high omega-3 fat content since Americans consume far too many omega-6 fats.
Farmed salmon is higher in overall fat which is problematic due to the toxins that build up in the fat tissue.
This makes the farmed salmon higher in calories than wild-caught and overall less healthy for our bodies.
4. Farm-raised Fish Are Lower in Beneficial Nutrients
Since farm raised fish are fed low-cost food pellets and animal scraps, they don’t get the same nutrients in their diet as wild-caught fish.
As with all animals, it’s important they are being fed their species specific diet.
But, that would decrease profit margins for the fish famers so instead they feed the fish all sorts of low-cost junk.
5. Fish Farms are Terrible for The Environment
The high concentration of fish farms combined with low-quality feeding practices results in waste accumulation on the sea floor which harm other sea life. (5)
Researchers estimate that large scale fish farms produce waste that would be equal to the sewage from a city with 10,000 people.
Farm-raised salmon also contribute to the issue of overfishing since part of their feed consists of other wild-caught fish. (6)
Due to the crowded conditions of fish farms, they are prone to disease causing pathogens and
It’s critical to understand the massive difference between wild-caught and farm-raised fish so you can make healthy choices for yourself and your loved ones.
By reducing your consumption of farmed fish you are voting with your dollar to put a stop to this harmful and unethical practice.
Sure, it may cost more, but simply eat less quantity so you can afford better quality. Or allocate more of your resources towards your food opposed to other possessions in life. It’s money well spent. After all, what’s more important than your health and wellbeing?