We’ve all heard about the health benefits of fish! It’s a lean protein, which is high in omega 3 fatty acids while being low in fat and calories. Though living in today’s fast pace world, I try to eat a balanced and healthy diet. One of the ways I do this is by eating fish two times per week, which is the recommended amount. I never gave much thought about where my fish was coming from, until I recently became aware of the controversy over wild caught versus farm raised fish.
The amount of fish we take from the ocean yearly is equivalent to the amount of human weight in China, and climbing. As a result, our marine life is on a fast decline and has researchers concerned that the ocean cannot sustain us fishing at this rate. Due to the high demand of fish and manufactures wanting to produce products at a faster rate, an alternative to the wild caught fish was formed, called farm raised fish.
Fish farming is when fish are entrapped in concentrated environments, which is accomplished two ways. The first type is called containment farming, which is when the fish are raised in a tank. The second, and most common, way is actually in the sea, where the fish are entrapped in a cage or net. This type of fish farming causes the most controversy because such populated habitats harvest parasites and disease, which not only spread throughout the colony, but seeps back into the natural waters.
The other issue with fish farming is controlling their diet. Fish do not naturally produce Omega fatty acids; they generate this through their food consumption of algae and tiny marine life such as shrimp. Manufacturers are limiting when and how much their fish can eat. The makeup of this fish food is questionable too, as there have been traces of chicken leftovers, soy, skin, bones, et cetera. This has had a direct effect on the health benefits to the consumer, because studies have shown lower amounts of Omega acids in farm raised fish.
The FDA has approved farm raised fish and has marked it safe for the customer, but there’s clearly still room for improvement. I’ve decided to move away from farmed fish because they are more susceptible to disease, parasites, and have lower counts in Omega fatty acids. Also, because they’re unable to swim freely and lean out, it results in them having a higher fat percentage. Though I respect the initiative behind farm raised fish and its efforts in saving marine life, after educating myself on the fish farming process, I will remain a wild fish eater.
To compare the health benefits of wild caught versus farm raised fish see the chart at the following link: http://www.prevention.com/which-healthier-wild-salmon-vs-farmed-salmon#
So how do you know what you’re eating?
If you’re buying packaged or frozen fish it will say on the labels if it is wild or farm raised. That also is true when purchasing from a grocery store fish counter. The fine print on the labels will state where the fish comes from.
Resources: http://www.mandyvision.com/2010/03/extensive-aquaculture-is-better-than-intensive-aquaculture-for-the-fishes/, https://soundcloud.com/#doctoroz/interview-paul-greenberg-part, https://soundcloud.com/#doctoroz/interview-paul-greenberg, http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/why-farmed-salmon-is-becoming-a-viable-alternative-to-wild-caught/2013/09/23/aaff33ca-1cbf-11e3-8685-5021e0c41964_story.html