Thursday, February 10, 2005

The SalmoFanTM

How about some antibiotics, pesticides, PCB's, and artificial color with that salmon?

Above is a color fan1 used by some salmon farmers to guide the shade of flesh they'd like to see in their salmon, post slaughter. Consumers, you see, like their salmon pink. The bright pink color of wild salmon comes from naturally occurring pigments in the krill and shrimp that constitute a wild salmon's diet. The color of farmed salmon would be a dusty grey were it not for the addition of the petrochemical-derived coloring agents canthaxanthin and astaxanthin. Thank you, Hoffmann-La Roche, for rosying up our lox.

Now, guess what food is thought to be the most PCB-contaminated protein source in the American food supply?

Yes, farmed salmon. And in case you're wondering about the history of the pink one you just ate, up to 90% of the fresh salmon in the US is farmed.

PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) were banned in the US in 1976 since they are believed to cause cancer. Some farmed salmon was measured to have 16 times the PCBs of its wild counterpart. (The PCBs are in the feed.) Visit the Environmental Working Group's report on PCBs in Farmed Salmon if you'd like to know more.

Farmed salmon can also have more total fat and more saturated fat than wild salmon. And its levels of omega-3 fat, the reason many people are carving out a spot on their dinner plate for this up-current swimmer, vary depending on what farmers choose to feed their lot.

My heart and gastrointestinal track will now and forever belong to the wild.
1 Photo by Edward Tufte. A forum on the SalmoFan including more of his wonderful pictures can be found at Edward Tufte.

No comments: