Monday, 7 July 2014

Farmed salmon vs wild Alaska salmon

Salmon - the super food containing those all-important omega-3 fatty acids, plus protein, vitamins and minerals (like potassium, selenium and vitamin B12). Surely you can't go wrong with a piece of fish like that on your plate? Well, no you can't - even the NHS is urging us to have a least two portions of oily fish a week. But you can go one better and choose wild (and co-incidently sustainable) rather than farmed salmon.



In fact many seafood species with the highest levels of omega-3s come from Alaska, one of the few remaining wildernesses on earth (and the largest US state). The pristine waters of Alaska also mean that wild Alaska salmon have among the lowest levels of mercury of all seafood. The unspoilt marine conditions means Alaska seafood remains additive-free with a superior flavour that comes as a direct result of the species feeding on a more natural diet. The texture is a result of annual migrations in the cold North Pacific sea. Put simply, the Alaska wild salmon is a fitter fish by far.

In contrast farmed salmon contains less omega-3, has a higher fat content (11-20 per cent compared to 7 per cent for a wild fish), is subject to higher levels of pesticide use and has a different texture and taste because the movements of a farmed fish are restricted by aquatic cages. Which is why several bloggers were asked if they'd like to test out the taste difference for themselves - and A Happy Healthy Mummy was one of those lucky bloggers!

The two samples - fresh from the oven

It's impossible not to notice the difference between farmed salmon and wild Alaska salmon. In some ways you could be forgiven for thinking you had two different fish species lying side by side! While farmed salmon is a pale pink when raw (and more so once cooked), wild Alaska salmon is far more vibrant. I baked both types of salmon very simply in the oven (15 mins at 200℃) and avoided any marinading or spices that might affect true taste. Once out of the oven, the colour difference was still apparent. And when you tuck into the salmon the difference becomes more apparent - and it's not hard to tell that the wild salmon has flexed its muscle on the open waves! Wild Alaska salmon is far meatier in texture than your bog-standard farmed salmon, which is far oilier and softer. While farmed salmon has quite a delicate fish flavour (which is why we usually think of adding flavours like lemon, chilli, garlic) - the wild Alaska salmon tasted properly fishy! It was really very different to the salmon I am used to.

Simply served with green veg and noodles so the true taste would shine through

To be honest, buying wild fish over farmed fish was not something I had ever considered. I'm aware that we are over-fishing our seas of course, but was blissfully ignorant of the impact that has on the quality of the food we find on our forks. I'm keen to include omega-3 in my diet and am shocked to discover not all fish are equally nutritious! I'm not even sure I knew how salmon was supposed to taste, since I have always just bought what I now know to be Alaska salmon's poorer (and flabbier!) relation. I feel a bit sorry for those salmon not able to splash about as they please in unpolluted waters. So I guess I'm hooked (pun totally intended!) on Alaska seafood now - it's more nutritious and tastier than its farmed friends - and sustainable to boot. It's a no brainer!


I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity.

12 comments:

  1. How interesting to read!
    I have recently got my girls into eating Salmon....They love it.

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    1. Wow! Parenting award right there!! Salmon is so good for them - although don't do what I do when they get a taste for something super - feed them it until they get completely bored!!!!

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  2. This has made me totally re-think the salmon I buy. I had always had some misgivings at the back of my mind that it was probably farmed and perhaps not the best quality - but it was cheap and relatively healthy. Now I properly understand the difference!

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    1. It's so easy just to buy what's on the shelves without thinking about how they got there. I'm really shocked to find out about the extra Omega-3 in wild salmon.

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  3. I'm really intrigued to taste the difference for myself! I had no idea they would look so different x

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    1. My samples came from Waitrose, delivered by Ocado!

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  4. Yes I discovered wild Alaska salmon a while ago. It would be my choice too, although obviously more expensive.

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    1. Usually higher quality food does fill you up more though!

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  5. It's really interesting to see the difference between the two! Thanks for linking up with #TriedTested

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    1. I know, I had never even noticed wild fish on the supermarket shelves (shame on me!). Thanks for commenting!

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  6. A really interesting blog - I have today bought farmed Alaskan salmon and am about to do a salmon en croute with it (a Mary Berry recipe) - hope it cooks the same - any advice gratefully received as it does look much denser than farmed salmon.

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  7. Fukishima vs farmed

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