paper is patient. you can print anything you wish and mostly get away with your notions. this truism goes doubly for the net, its tweets, twitters and titillations. in my world of food, blue berries mushed into potatoes (to do the purple mash) are no exception. but a color chart, like martha’s paint chips, for tinting farmed salmon flesh seems a wee over the top. hoffmann-la roche, one company that makes the dyes, canthaxanthin and the more expensive astaxanthin from petrochemicals, offers salmon farmers the ‘salmofan’, a sort of paint wheel with assorted shades of pink to help create the color they think their customers want (ny times). as if the entire issue of farmed salmon wasn’t bad enough. wild ‘pacifics’ aside, pretty much every salmon sold in this country, fresh or frozen, is farmed and virtually all are atlantic salmon. an exceptions might be farmed pacific chinook. harder to farm, but bringing a substantially higher profit. the whole thing is so very convoluted in an absurd way. people love eating salmon. that got us to get virtually no wild atlantic salmon. it is illegal to fish for it, it’s on the endangered species list, but, worst of all, atlantic salmon is easily grown farmed. and farmed it is. there are hatcheries and fish farms in british columbia, washington state, scotland, japan, chile and new zealand. think global. interestingly not so much in norway, where salmon farming began in earnest and where most industry headquarters are presently located. it’s easy money for investors, as these farm fish are cheap to produce. at eight bucks a pound they are plentiful and available all year around, anywhere. they consistently taste pretty good, owing to a larger than wild fat amount. the ‘farms’ also have about the same nutritional value. so why buy wild at twenty-five dollars and up per pound? well, here is the argument. farmed salmon apparently destroys the habitat of the oceans, the bays and inlets where crowded container nets, poor maintenance, shoddy feed diets (think corn), pesticides and an increased use of antibiotics are said to bring about damage to marine life in general and to wild salmon in specific. the effect of sea lice has notably and ever more become another big issue, as infestation has wildly increased. this is true (researched and well documented) much so in areas where farms are located in river channels or where groups of small islands form an archipelago. all manner of wild fish move through these by now intensely infested waterways. this pest kills thousands of pacific salmon, apparently wiping out entire native runs of pink salmon. even so, and ever increasing in size and expansion, the industry has tripled in size since 2006 and has put hundreds of salmon farms producing hundreds of millions (yes!) of fish, polluting locations globally at virtually all cold water inlets and coasts.
so, law suites aside (industry settles such suits frequently and cheaply out of court) what really to do? the sky is of course not falling, not as yet anyway. alaska for example has banned all fish farms to safeguard wild stocks. environmentalists, indian tribes and some few fish mongers, blame salmon farms. the industry says there is no proof. closing farms, as has been attempted along the coast of chile, seems unattainable. salmon farms are where cheap money is made. as long as investors and multinational corporations rule, and supervision of farms is unlikely enforced, farmed salmon will be forever. and with it those devastating repercussions on its environments. things might change. there is research on placing salmon farms in enclosed tanks instead of leaky nets. or on land, as has been done profitably with catfish, for instance. seriously pursued and managed, such controlled aquaculture could avoid most pollution as well as the pests. it would also increase the overall price of such salmon. consumers might buy into this solution, but the effort of research are costly and time is as usual on industry’s side.
wild or farmed is a choice you can make. my personal notion is to eat wild salmon. or fry catfish, should the money run out. nicely spiced up over a charcoal fire, why, just thinking about it, makes me hungry.
research via google, new york times, ‘farmedanddangerous.org’, ‘1planet1ocean.org’,