Not too long ago, people who paid attention to what they ate knew to seek out wild salmon instead of farmed, even if they didn’t know exactly why. That awareness seems to have faded and we went looking for answers.
In this episode, we look at America’s favorite finfish, salmon, and dig a little deeper into where it comes from, what’s farmed, what’s wild, and why some people want you to care about that distinction at all. We look at the pressures facing wild salmon and how to ensure its long-term survival. We get into the details of fish farming — of salmon, and other fish, too — and how it replicates some of the problems we see in land-based factory farms for animals like chickens and pigs.
We also ask the experts where we can buy wild salmon, any labels to seek out, how to make it more affordable, and how best to cook it.
Available wherever you listen to podcasts.
"If you want to farm catfish in a pond, in a farm in the middle of the Midwest, feed them some corn pellets, I don't know, earthworms, who cares? But if you're going to take Atlantic salmon and raise them in the Pacific Northwest where Atlantic salmon don't even belong, there's one problem. And the problems go on and on and on."
Paul writes at the intersection of the environment and technology, and is the author of six books including The New York Times bestseller and Notable Book “Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food.” His other books are “The Climate Diet,” “Goodbye Phone, Hello World,” “The Omega Principle,” “American Catch” and the novel “Leaving Katya.” He currently hosts the podcast Fish Talk.
Jason is a commercial fisherman from Westerly, Rhode Island. He serves as the president of the board for the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA) and is an active community member, raising pressing concerns and issues, especially to members of Congress, about the flawed regulatory system and the equity imbalances within the fishing industry.
Marianne is an environmental attorney and long-time conservation and healthy affordable food advocate. She runs the Environmental Law program at Loyola University in New Orleans and is the executive director of the Recirculating Farms Coalition.
Ryan is the research and policy analyst for FoodPrint and works on understanding the impact of our diets on climate, water and soil. He holds an M.S. in Agriculture, Food and the Environment from The Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.
Buck is an enrolled Cayuse member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. He is the salmon marketing specialist for the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC).
Renee is a James Beard award-winning chef, author and co-owner of multiple properties in Seattle, Washington: The Walrus and the Carpenter, The Whale Wins, Barnacle, Bar Melusine, Bateau, Westward, and several General Porpoise Doughnuts and Coffee locations.
If you look at the seafood section of any supermarket in the United States, about 65 percent of what you see is imported, and more than half of that comes from aquaculture: the farming of seafood. Even in once-active fishing communities, local, wild seafood has become less available.
The noble promise of aquaculture — to create more food for a growing world population — has, in some cases, only repeated the errors of land-based industrial agriculture. This report aims to educate consumers about the world of farmed seafood, help them learn about the problems with much of today’s industrial aquaculture, and understand how they can buy better seafood that supports a more sustainable future.
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Top photo by ungvar/ Adobe Stock