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Is Your Salmon Really Wild Or Just Raised On a Farm?

I have to hand it to the New York Times, my favorite newspaper in the world, for the great job they did to expose the use of farmed salmon being sold at six New York City stores as wild. This finding underscores a great concern of mine for the health of Americans and many in the fishing industry who believe wild salmon may indeed not be nearly as available during the off-season (November to March) as once thought.

The Times sent random samples last month to a testing facility in North Carolina that used a similar method employed by scientists at the FDA to differenciate between wild and farmed salmon. Of the eight samples tested, six were farmed salmon, only one was wild and the last was a farmed salmon that had escaped into the wild (which is not uncommon). An unidentified FDA researcher also reviewed and agreed with the company's analysis.

Not surprisingly, a spokeswoman for an association that promotes wild seafood says the problem has been reported throughout the country, and not confined to the Big Apple. Such findings fly in the face of new federal regulations governing country-of-origin labeling that took effect last week. They require fish to carry a paper trail back to the source, but only apply to full-service markets like grocery stores, but not to fish markets.

Even renowned chefs who pay top dollar for the choicest seafood could not distinguish between wild and farmed salmon. That is, not until after the salmon were cooked.

Just one more reason for you to avoid salmon sold in grocery stores and restaurants. Sadly, fish would be one of the healthiest foods on the planet, if it wasn't for the fact that nearly all sources are contaminated with mercury among many toxins, rendering them unsafe to eat.

Such toxins have become a large part of our fish supply and have been a contributor to severe health issues, including:

That is why I suggest avoiding eating fish unless you know it has been laboratory-tested and proven to be free from mercury and other toxins. The typical rule of thumb when considering eating fish: The larger the fish, the more mercury and PCBs it will have. Small fish like sardines, however, are typically mercury- and PCB-free.

There are two healthy options at your disposal, if you want to enjoy the health benefits of fish without the toxic side effects. Taking a high quality fish or cod liver oil daily is one ideal method. And if you really enjoy the taste of fish, you may want to consider Alaskan Wild Red Salmon from Vital Choice, a brand we've tested several times and have found it to be free from mercury contamination and the toxic pollutants.

New York Times April 10, 2005

Seattle Times April 10, 2005

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