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Are You Wild for Salmon?

Are You Wild for Salmon?

Here’s what you need to know about salmon that’s wild caught vs. farm-raised.

In the 2009 comedy Slammin’ Salmon, a desperate restaurant owner comes up with a contest to see which waiter can reel in the most money in a night—so, they’re serving as much salmon as possible.

Not a hard sell—Americas eat around 350,000 pounds annually. But buying (or ordering) salmon can be confusing. On June 10th, 2019, Dr. Oz is talking with Julia Collin-Davison from America’s Test Kitchen to help you understand your options. Tune in for all the details, but here’s what you need to know about salmon that’s wild caught vs. farm-raised.

Farm-raised means an aquaculture business herded the fish to market. Some farms are sectioned off in the ocean (most harmful to the environment), some are pens; some load the salmon with antibiotics, some don’t. In 2016, Chile used 530 grams of antibiotics per ton of farm-raised salmon; Norway, 1 gram per ton in 2008. Farmed salmon often contains more contaminants, including pesticides.

Wild salmon is red-orange and leaner with a more complex flavor. But beware! One report used DNA typing to reveal that 43 percent of salmon labeled “wild” is farm-raised. So…

  • Buy fish from a shop that’s a member of the Better Seafood Board—it’s less likely to be mislabeled.
  • Consider wild salmon that’s flash-frozen immediately after harvest and vacuum sealed. It’s tasty and less expensive than wild fish sold at the counter, which is often just thawed frozen fish. Dr. Mike’s choice: Wild salmon that’s caught, then frozen, during the Alaska salmon run.

Medically reviewed in November 2019.

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