Where Does Your Salmon Come From?
By: Chef Cristian
The sushi chef has prepared a beautiful plate of Salmon Sashimi (raw sliced salmon). Trusting its quality and freshness, you dab a little Wasabi on it, dip it in the soya sauce and toss it back. The buttery flavour melts in your mouth, and after $50 worth of sushi you realize, once again, that you've had way too much! Did you ever stop to think where that salmon came from?
Now picture yourself walking through the fresh wilderness of British Columbia. You come to stand on a pile of mossy rocks. Behind you stands a forest of tall pines hiding in the mist, and before you is the cold Pacific Ocean. You take a deep breath of fresh air and think, "Man, this is nature at it's best!" You walk along the rocky shore and spot one of British Columbia's salmon farms off in the distance. You go in for a close look expecting to find salmon swimming busily about in their natural habitat. Instead, you find out something not-so-natural...
Thousands of salmon are thrashing about in an enclosed pen of brown, murky water. The stench is similar to that of a pig farm, and you pinch your nose for a closer look. The water is brown from the salmon's feces and at the bottom of the ocean floor is a thick layer of feces and un-eaten food. This creates a dead zone for any creatures that once inhabited this ocean inlet. It is now a toxic wasteland of murky water and thrashing salmon. The same salmon that might end up at the business end of your chopsticks. They spend so much time breathing and swimming in this water that their flesh (normally orange-red from a natural diet of crustaceans and sea life) is now a pale brown, and must be chemically colored back to orange to make you buy it at the store! This is "farm raised salmon."
I was as surprised as you are when I discovered this, and although not all fish farms may operate this way - many do. I have since made sure that any salmon that I eat is wild caught only. Luckily you can still find wild caught salmon at your local fish store, and awareness of this situation is slowly reaching the general public. This is not a call to stop eating salmon (as there are many benefits to eating this nutrient rich fish) it's just an article to better inform you what you are eating, where it comes from, and what effects it may be causing to the environment.
I have had much success with wild caught Alaskan salmon and believe it to be a superior product in terms of quality, taste and texture over conventional farm raised salmon. So don't be shy about asking where your salmon comes from!