In our fast-paced modern world, we often need to pay more attention to the quality of our daily menu. Fortunately, expert dietitians are here to raise our critical consciousness regarding the food we consume. The growing trend of people giving up animal product consumption makes us question the meat industry.
Fillet-Oh-Fish, by director Nicolas Daniels, takes a critical look at the fish industry, investigating fish farms and factories worldwide in an extensive initiative towards educating people on the fish they consume. Though our perception of fishing is rather ‘romanticized,’ according to Healthy Holistic Living, when it comes to large-scale food production, it’s an entirely different story.
According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, “Today’s fisheries are faced with a range of severe problems, from overfishing to chemical pollution and genetic mutation from toxic exposures.” The producers of the documentary note that through intensive farming and global pollution, the flesh of the fish that we eat has turned into “a deadly chemical cocktail.” Even so, the fish business continues to boom merely to protect the image of modern fisheries from the public.
The investigation kicks off in Norway, where they have a look at the chemicals that are used in fish farms today. A respected Norwegian environmental activist by the name of Kurt Oddekalv believes that the farming of salmon is “a disaster both for the environment and for human health.” Among the Norwegian fjords that contain salmon farms, there is said to be a layer of waste about 15 meters high, consisting of bacteria, drugs, and pesticides. The seafloor is apparently destroyed, and due to the sea farms being situated in open water, there is no way to contain the pollution as a result of these farms. Upwards of 2 million salmon can be held in a crowded space, with the crowded conditions leading to disease that spreads rapidly through stressed salmon. Oddekalv reports that sea lice, as well as the Infectious Salmon Anemia Virus, have spread across Norway, while consumers are not informed of the fish pandemics and continue to purchase diseased fish.
Despite fish always being known as a healthy food, Oddekalv proclaims that today’s farmed salmon is one of the most toxic foods in the world. Jerome Ruzzin, a toxicology researcher, has confirmed these claims. Having tested a number of different food groups sold in Norway for toxins, he has determined that farmed salmon contains the greatest amount of toxins among them by “an incredibly large margin.” It has been concluded that farmed salmon is, in fact, five times more toxic than any other food product tested.
Dr. Anne-Lise Birch Monsen, a prominent biologist at the University of Bergen, Norway, stated, “I do not recommend pregnant women, children, or young people eat farmed salmon. It is uncertain in both the amount of toxins salmon contain, and how these drugs affect children, adolescents, and pregnant women.” She adds that the contaminants detected in farmed salmon have a negative effect on brain development, associated with autism, as well as having an impact on other organ systems in the body’s immune system and metabolism. According to Living Traditionally, eating more than one meal of farm-raised salmon in a month can increase your risk of developing cancer in the future due to the salmon containing cancer-causing chemicals and high levels of dioxins. Furthermore, farmed salmon is also said to provide your body with higher levels of inflammation, which leads to many diseases, namely cancer, diabetes, arthritis, coronary artery disease, and Alzheimer’s.
The evidence is conclusive that farmed salmon damages our bodies and the environment. Despite being one of the healthiest foods we can eat, we must be mindful about choosing the right fish in the industrial age. Documentaries continue to surface with facts and research that have people thinking twice about consuming processed foods and animal products. There are many great alternative fish and food choices that are handled in healthier ways for our consumption, and it’s important to stay aware and informed of what you eat and how it gets to your plate.
The previously stated facts about cultivated salmon don’t have to discourage you from consuming this food. Unlike farmed salmon, purchasing wild-caught salmon means you know where your food comes from. This way, you get the authentic experience and taste benefits directly from the ocean.
Just like any other food product, grocery stores offer numerous options for “organic,” “farm-raised,” and “free range” salmon in every aisle. Therefore, finding a healthy and clean alternative can quickly become a confusing and daunting task. Finding a local, fisherman-direct source is the way to go if you want to obtain pure and wild salmon. Small fisheries are famous for employing sustainable fishing practices and having more control over the product’s quality. So, they are more likely to offer healthy products than your average grocery store.
When it comes to wild-caught salmon, there is usually no doubt that you are getting the cleanest, most natural fish product on the market. In many cases, sellers put an “organic” label on salmon that is actually farm-raised and somehow tampered with by manufacturers.
In fact, according to the USDA’s official statement about organic certification, this process includes foods grown and processed according to federal guidelines, such as animal-raising practices, pest and weed control, soil quality, and the use of additives. Certified organic producers stick to natural substances and biologically based, mechanical, or physical farming methods as much as possible. Therefore, the “organic” label primarily serves as a marketing tool that indicates a product’s artificial growth, only according to guidelines that keep it as close as possible to natural occurrences.
This phenomenon is not limited to salmon - instead, we can see various farm-raised food products, some of which are much more popular than this fish, with labels like “organic” slapped onto them. You may ask, why does this happen? In some cases, this occurs due to misguided but well-intentioned concerns about the survival of the salmon population. Other times, sellers may fail to understand the nutritional difference between the wild-caught product and its farm-raised counterpart (even if it has an “organic” label).
In the case of wild-caught Pacific salmon, none of the requirements associated with salmon advertised as “organic” apply to the fish’s life cycle or survival. Wild salmon live an untouched and unaltered life, surviving on food sources available in their natural habitat. From the beginning of their lives as eggs in a riverbed until their return to the same river to spawn offspring, they live as naturally as they get. Thus, wild salmon doesn’t need monitoring and labeling from organizations such as the USDA.
According to Steve Kurian, captain of the fishing vessel The Ava Jane, the main difference between wild-caught and farmed salmon lies in the omega 3 and omega 6 ratio. These are unsaturated dietary fats that make seafood one of the most beneficial foods to consume regularly as a part of any healthy diet. Wild-caught salmon has the advised ratio of omega 3s and 6s, which makes it a recommendable food for improving heart health and preventing cancer.