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Farmed Salmon: Health Food or Poison?

The Omega 3 fats found in many fish are an extremely healthy addition to one’s diet. They are essential for proper brain and cardiovascular function, for example. Farmed Salmon is always touted as being full of these life-giving omega 3 fats, and clever marketing says you should buy it. However, there is more to the story when it comes to farmed salmon, and it isn’t good.

One of the biggest culprits is what they are fed. Along with PCBs and dioxins, many of the fish pellets contain eel from the Baltic sea. As many as nine industrialized countries use this closed body of water to dump their toxic waste. Because eels are prized for their high protein and fat content it makes sense, but fat is where toxins tend to be stored and accumulated.

A documentary called, “Fillet-Oh-Fish” by Nicolas Daniel, will make you want to never eat fish again! It is a very dark look at the fishing industry and causes one to pause when it comes to fish consumption. So are there any safe fish options out there? Read on to find out. But first just a little bit more on farmed salmon and why you should rarely if ever, put it in your mouth.

Another big problem with the fish feed is the manufacturing process. A chemical called ethoxyquin is added to the fish oil and meal to prevent oxidation and rancidity. Ethoxyquin is a pesticide developed by Monsanto in the 1950s which is tightly regulated on produce, but not at all on fish. Testing on fish has shown as high as 20x the amount allowed on produce.

Other chemicals found in farmed salmon? Try flame retardants, DDT, microplastics, and many common over-the-counter drugs. Environmental pollution can be a big problem when it comes to choosing your fish and must be considered. We are what we eat what it ate. You would never “intentionally” consume any of these things.

OK, so the question remains, “What the hell kind of fish can I eat?” Many experts believe the nutritional benefits of authentic wild-caught Alaskan salmon outweigh the risks. The nutritional profile is outstanding, their short life cycle (3 years) greatly reduces any accumulation of toxins, and they are never allowed to be farmed. We desperately need the nutrients they provide, and often.

Other fish with short life cycles are great choices as well. Consider anchovies and sardines for example. These little guys are also very low on the food chain which greatly influences their ability to “stay clean”. Sardines with the bones are especially nutritious. There are a few others as well. Think of the acronym S.M.A.S.H. Salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and herring.

It’s important to consider sustainability as well. Overfishing is a problem in many areas, but some are combating this problem. Closed-loop farmed fish operations are much cleaner as they filter the water and recycle the waste. This is a step in the right direction. However, the ultimate fish farm is found in Spain where they don’t have to feed their fish, the ecosystem does. Check out the amazing Ted Talk on it here. It is beautiful. The way it’s meant to be done.

I had the opportunity to go Alaskan Salmon fishing with my Dad, brother, and nephews this past summer. Easily the most delicious salmon I have ever had in my life, hands down. I hope to go back soon and re-stock the freezer:)

Don’t be afraid of eating fish, just be smart about it. Another obvious one I would throw into the mix is wild trout. Just like drinking water is safer up high in the mountains, so are the fish. Fish are essential to being resilient as humans in my opinion. Every culture that has experienced truly robust health over the centuries has had access to rivers and especially oceans and the bounty within.

Fish oil supplements are another way to make sure you get those healthy fats. While I encourage you to eat proper fish, it doesn’t hurt to top things off using this approach. Whether it’s fish oil or any other supplement you may be interested in, I can help. As a Functional Health Coach utilizing Fullscript, I can offer you 20-30% off all your favorite brands.

It’s easy, fast, research-based, extremely convenient, and most importantly I use it for myself, family and friends. Contact me with your questions today! Happy fish hunting everyone!


Bart Thurman, FDN-P, INHC Functional Health Coaching Cafe of Life Chiropractic 1325 Dry Creek Drive #307 Longmont, CO 80503 Office: 720-849-0124 @bart_breakfreewellness

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