Are You Afraid of Farm Raised Salmon?


How many of you are suffering from the “can’t buy farm-raised salmon” angst that I’ve had for the last year or so?

Walking past the case at Costco filled with beautiful pink filets of salmon (farm raised) is painful for me.  I SO want to throw one into my cart, take it home, douse it with a soy-maple-miso marinade, and broil it to a bubbly, golden, glazed slab of perfection.

Instead, I keep pushing my oversized cart past the salmon and toward cow and pig (my pinterest names for beef and pork). Am I being health savvy? Or am I being stupid?

In a recent conversation with my friend Leigh Ann (also suffering from my same angst), she asked me if I’d heard any opposing views to the “wild salmon only” argument.  It was then that I realized that I didn’t really know the arguments for either side. I was just riding the “wild salmon only” bandwagon based on what I’d heard other folks say. I’d even  tossed out several “don’t buy farmed salmon” comments in conversations, not really having any facts to back up my statements.

Since I hate to ride bandwagons, and I want to stick to the facts, I decided to do a bit of research to try and find some answers. I set out to find a “no spin zone” for salmon.

After a bit of searching, I came across an article on Web M.D. entitled Salmon and Beef: What’s Safe to Eat?  The author, Kathleen M. Zelman, has qualifications too numerous to list, but you can see see her credentials here.

Since I consider Web M.D. a trusted resource, I read the article in its entirety. Zelman explains how the farmed salmon scare began and offers enough solid information to lead me to conclude that I am FINE buying farmed salmon and serving it to my family.

After discussing risks from PCB’s (found in BOTH farmed and wild salmon as well as other foods we eat regularly), Zelman concluded that “for most healthy adults, the health benefits of salmon far outweigh the much smaller and less-clear risk that the PCBs found in it could cause cancer.”

In addition to Zelman’s article, I found a very comprehensive site, Salmon of Americas, that is replete with information on salmon, aquaculture, safe farmed salmon practices, and other consumer information on salmon.  This is as comprehensive a site as I found during my search. For those of you who want info, and lots of it, I would start here.

So, my conclusion, until otherwise convinced, is that farm raised salmon is not only safe, but it is also a healthy choice of food to serve to my family.

As it stands right now, I believe several things about this issue:

1. The risk of getting cancer from farm raised salmon is small and inconclusive.

2. The benefits from eating salmon are myriad and substantiated.

3.  There is more to the salmon controversy than meets the eye.  Click here to read press releases showing the involvement of various organizations (PEW Environmental Group and Greenpeace) and several media outlets that suggests not only bias toward, but possible smear tactics against, the farmed salmon industry.

I will continue to study this and would love to hear from any of you who might have solid sources of information on this topic. But for now, my fears are laid to rest.

A final note: For those of you who care, tomorrow (Tuesday May 22nd) you can get “buy one get one free” farm raised Atlantic salmon filets at The Fresh Market.  I’ll be there, as I’ve gone far too long missing a favorite treat.