The Ten Week Challenge Syllabus

I walked people through a ten week challenge, using the following syllabus.

Week 1 - Sugar-free
Week 2 - Whole grains
Week 3 - Wild-caught fish and grass-fed meats
Week 4 - Raw dairy
Week 5 - The microwave
Week 6 - Fats and oils
Week 7 - Cultured and fermented foods
Week 8 - Local and organic produce
Week 9 - Processed foods
Week 10 - Implementing lifestyle changes

Visit my Recipe Index over at Going Green in a Pink World.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Week 3: Fish 101

The Science Journal published a 2004 study that found farm raised salmon to be TEN times higher in toxins than wild caught salmon. A 2003 study by the Environmental Working Group found farm raised salmon to be SIXTEEN times higher in toxins, and contain the highest level of PCBs in the entire food chain. PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls) are toxins that are now illegal, but were once used in coolants and electrical equipment. They're still around in the environment, and farm raised fish tend to be rife with them. Those in the salmon farming industry claim that the public is misinformed. The levels of PCBs in the farm raised salmon were .038 parts per million, whereas the US FDA's guidelines allow for 2.0 parts per million, so industry leaders say these studies shouldn't scare consumers. However, PCBs, which are stored in fat, can deposit there, linger and accumulate, and for pregnant women or those hoping to conceive, passing along these carcinogens doesn't seem a like risk most are willing to take.

Other Things To Consider
Additionally, their feed isn't natural, thus the farm raised salmon are lower in Omega 3s (and isn't that part of their draw?!) Also, they are kept in pens with less swimming room, thus fed antibiotics, and tend to be higher in mercury, which can contribute or lead to cancer in humans. Farm raised fish end up a whitish gray color, but farmers shoot a dye into them so that they can compete with their salmon-hued wild competitors. One of the colorants, Canthaxanthin, has been linked to eye defects in humans. (Source: Pure Salmon Campaign)

What Does This Mean for Me?
Well, it depends. If you agree with the Real Food way of life, something inside you may have cringed at reading the above information. Or maybe the numbers seem insignificant - especially compared to the extra money you'll be paying for wild caught. Sometimes the difference between farm raised and wild caught is up to five dollars per pound (buying on sale rocks! we don't buy salmon unless it's on sale). If you don't want to fork over the extra cash, there are a few things you can do. PCBs are stored in the fat of the fish, so trim as much fat as you can, and cook under a broiler or over a grill to minimize fat. Also, most canned salmon varieties are wild, so whip up some salmon cakes, or add some flaked salmon to a salad.

My Opinion
I fall into the former camp - I have a difficult time eating something that has been raised in an artificial environment, ingesting toxins. I love the bright pink flesh of a wild caught salmon. And yes, I am one of those annoying dinner dates that asks the waitress if the salmon is farm raised, and say "No, thank you" when they return to confirm my suspicion. But I have been known to get a huge, CAFO raised burger while at Outback Steakhouse or Bugaboo Creek, so I extend no condemnation if you eat the pale pink swimmers! As always, I just want to give you the information. You decide what to do with it!

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