Farm Raised vs. Wild Salmon

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Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, an important part of a healthy diet. The controversy surrounding farm-raised and wild salmon is ongoing with opposing camps offering highly contradictory viewpoints. While changes in fish farming have closed the gap substantially, key differences continue to set farm-raised and wild salmon apart.

A Matter of Taste

  • In terms of nutrition, wild and farmed salmon have only a few notable differences. Wild salmon has fewer calories and less than half the fat per serving as farm-raised salmon due to seasonal feeding habits and an inability to bulk up like in a farm-raised environment. Farmed salmon is most typically Atlantic salmon, which is rarely available wild. Atlantic salmon has a slightly different taste than wild salmon, which tends to be a bit more gamey tasting. Common wild salmon varieties are chum, king, sockeye, pink and red salmon. Because of increasing demand, wild salmon is becoming more difficult to source in many regions throughout the country.

Weighing the Differences

  • Environmental concerns, contamination and lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids are the driving factors against farmed salmon. However, controls on egg importation and regular testing of fish have minimized disease among farmed salmon, and reports of high levels of PCBs and other contaminants on farmed fish are largely unfounded. While omega-3 fatty acids are less prevalent in the tissues of farmed salmon, farmed salmon are considerably fattier than wild salmon, making the actual amount of omega-3 fatty acids typically identical.

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