Natalie Mann is the founder of Ambrolio Foods, a website dedicated to delicious and healthy foods. A nutritionist with a degree from Cornell University, Natalie has spent decades working in the food industry. As a parent with two sons, she also has firsthand experience with finicky eaters, dairy allergies, and gluten intolerance.
5 Tips for Buying the Freshest & Most Sustainable Salmon
by Natalie Mann
Buying salmon used to be easy.
Fresh-fished salmon was abundant, prices were reasonable, and warnings about overfishing, water pollution, and PCBs weren’t making headlines.
In 2011, all that has changed.
More than half of the salmon purchased in the United States comes from fish raised in man-made farms. Prices are much higher, and sustainability and safety are pressing concerns.
To lend insight into your next salmon purchase, here’s a quick guide for buying the freshest and most sustainable salmon possible.
5 Tips For Buying The Best Salmon
1. Fresh fish, including salmon, should NOT smell.
If the fish counter and surrounding area smells ‘fishy,’ walk away and don’t make a purchase.
If you don’t detect any odors at the counter, but your salmon smells fishy when you open the package at home, return it.
2. Fresh salmon should glisten, not look dull.
Salmon should look bright and shiny. Its flesh should be firm, clean, and evenly colored. Natural white marbling on the fish is an indicator of good omega-3 fatty acids. (See photo)
3. Wild Alaskan salmon is the most eco-friendly.
Many resources, including the Environmental Defense Fund, cite wild Alaskan salmon as the most sustainable choice. Fresh, frozen at sea, and canned salmon from Alaska are all good options.
4. Fresh, wild Alaskan salmon is a seasonal item.
In Alaska, the salmon fishing season starts in May and ends by late-October. Outside of this time you will only find good smoked or canned salmon.
5. Farmed Atlantic salmon should be avoided.
Farmed salmon are raised in large, densely packed pens that pollute surrounding waters with waste and chemicals. In addition, farmed salmon are more prone to illness in crowded net-pens, and antibiotics are often used to treat disease.
Farmed salmon have elevated levels of PCBs. The Environmental Defense Fund has issued a warning to limit the consumption of Atlantic salmon. This warning pertains to everyone, but is particularly important for young children. See the EDF site for specific details.
- In 2011, our salmon choices impact our oceans as well as our bodies.
- At the seafood counter, ask questions. Farmed or wild? Previously frozen? How fresh – delivered when?
- At restaurants, ask if the salmon is delivered daily and whether it’s wild or farmed.
What do you consider when buying salmon?