Farmed salmon today are fed a diet high in soy. On the one hand, it makes sense in terms of being a cheap ingredient and lightening the footprint on unsustainable marine feed sources, but on the other hand, soy planations are destroying the Amazon Rainforest, which can hardly be considered sustainable.
Moreover, 98% of soy grown in Brazil, the primary source for salmon feed, is genetically modified. This means there is a 98% probability that the salmon you eat has eaten genetically modified food.
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Flaw 5: Feed and Food
Salmon feed by daisy.images CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Feeding the Salmon that Feed Us
Nutritionists advise that we should eat lots of heart-healthy and brain-healthy omega-3 fats, and that salmon is a healthy, low-fat, sustainable food packed with the good fats. This sounds too good to be true!
These days, due to manipulations of the feed ingredients in farmed salmon, the omega-3s have plummeted while there's been about a ten-fold increase in omega-6s, which are associated with inflammation, cardiovascular disease, cancer, dementia, and a host of other chronic illnesses. Moreover, omega-6 fats interfere with the body's absorption of omega-3s.
The salmon farming industry presents an image of its product as being healthy and natural. Salmon's claim to fame is its high omega-3 content. Once true, this remains largely undiusputed despite the quality of the fish having plummeted in recent years.
Plundering the oceans for fish feed in days gone by was utterly unsustainable -- and expensive -- so the salmon farming industry switched to cheap soy. This artificial diet has had two disastrous effects, one for consumers and the other for the environment. Salmon's famed omega-3 fats are now just a fraction of what they used to be, and meanwhile the vast expanses of land required for soybean farming are laying waste to the Amazon rainforest.
The truth is unavoidable: if you're eating the salmon, you're eating what the salmon eat. It's now time for us to align our consumer choices with our values.
Salmon's pure, healthy image is just one big fishy green-wash
Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fats
Salmon's Insatiable Appetite is Unsustainable!
Many erroneously think of salmon farming as the perfect gift of sustainability, both healthy for us and guilt-free for the environment. But as illustrated throughout this site, the "healthy" moniker is not quite what we are led to believe.
Author Richard Flanagan has called salmon farming a process of "food reduction". This is true. And if the saying is true, you are what you eat, then the ingredients the salmon farming industry is reducing down into the expensive product on our plates may surprise you.
- Salmon are around 15% chicken and 50% soy
- The chicken contains heads, feet, feathers, and intestines, the most contaminated part of the chicken
- The soybeans are genetically modified
- Farmed salmon contributes to Amazon deforestation, through soy production
- The feed production process is likely a process of heavy metal concentration