Eat Wild to Save Wild
Does that seem counterintuitive? A little backwards?
Here's how it works. Lets use wild salmon as an example, although it's the same deal for other wild Alaskan fish.
Wild Salmon is a carefully managed resource in the state of Alaska. The ocean and rivers are healthy and the numbers of salmon returning to spawn are great.
The salmon find their way out from the streams they are born in to the ocean. There, they raise themselves, grow fat and return to their home river to spawn. They do this all by themselves, and provide a fabulous and healthy food source to the planet in the process. All they need us to do is protect their habitat.
It costs money to support the river systems, and this money comes from the salmon economy. If people stopped buying wild salmon, there would be no money and no reason to protect the rivers and habitats. Without a thriving salmon economy, we would have no money to deter mining, deforestation, dams and developments that would destroy the last of the wild salmon habitats.
Therefore, by promoting and eating wild Salmon, we are giving value to the salmon. When we value the salmon, we protect the streams and rivers for their return. When you choose to eat wild salmon, you are supporting the rivers that support the salmon.
The problem with farmed Salmon
Well first off, farmed salmon is not good for you - it's fed food with additives, hormones, antibiotics and dyes - yuck. It's also not good for wild salmon or the water systems they are in. Although farmed salmon is kept in pens, disease and fish lice is pervasive and ends up contaminating the wild stock and rivers.
The other problem is that fish farms end up taking away the monetary value of wild salmon by competing for price and being a cheaper commodity. Fish farms are destroying the rivers and the wild stock. Settling for farmed fish only exacerbates the problem.
Fish farmers like to say they are creating a sustainable and healthy food source for the planet. But the wild salmon are already doing that just fine on their own - without contaminating the rivers or our food supply. We need to stop creating fish farms, and focus on investing in the wild salmon runs that already exist.
What you can do
- Check the label for "Wild" - if it doesn't say wild, don't buy it. If you are at a restaurant, ask the wait staff.
- Look for "Alaska" - Thank goodness the state of Alaska had the foresight to not allow fish farms. If a fish is caught it Alaska, then you know its wild (and well managed). The majority of farmed fish are imported from other countries.
- Stay away from Atlantic Salmon - There are no wild Atlantic Salmon on the market. Atlantic Salmon is a sneaky way of saying farmed salmon. Don't buy it and don't feed it to your family.
- Find a trustworthy source - Seafood can be mislabeled and misrepresented. The best way to ensure you getting the real thing is to buy it from a trustworthy source - like the fisherman of course! Get to know your fisherman at www.senasea.com
Sena Wheeler holds degrees in nutrition and food science in addition to being a Mom, foodie, and third generation fisherman's wife. Visit her at SenaSea.com where she blogs about family, fish and food.