How do you know if it’s Farmed Salmon or Wild Salmon?
Know it by Name
It can be hard to tell farmed salmon from wild, especially since salmon farmers refuse to label the product “farmed.”
For some critical reasons to avoid farmed salmon—from dead sea lions to disease and antibiotics—see Kirsten’s notes here.
Farmed salmon shows up in your grocery store labeled “Atlantic salmon” or “fresh salmon”. Both labels are true, but not the whole story. All Atlantic salmon in the stores comes from a farm, whether it’s in a package or sold fresh by the fishmonger.
To be sure you’re getting wild fish, look for sockeye, king (aka spring or Chinook), pink, chum or coho. These fish are not farmed for the US market.
Know it by Sight
Farmed salmon has large, distinct ribbons of white fat running throughout the flesh—the amount varies but it’s always quite plain to see. We all know salmon fat is good for us, but that fat is also the place where toxins ingested by fish build up.
Wild fish are also fatty, but you can’t often see actual bands of fat running through the flesh—if you can, they’re very thin.
Color may also be a clue: farmed salmon are dyed to achieve a light orange color—their flesh is naturally grey. Compare it with the rich, red-orange of a wild sockeye and you can easily see the difference. Color is a less reliable indicator than the labeled name, because the farmers can choose from a wide range of dyes to color the fish.
Ask your retailer
If you’re shopping in one of the stores below, ask their seafood counter what kind of fish they’re selling—and don’t be fooled by that “fresh” salmon answer. If their fish is wild, they will be proud to tell you so.
Better yet, tell them what you want right now: with a single click, you can send the letter below to all retailers selling farmed salmon, telling them you want them to Go Wild!
Farmed salmon is sold by:
- Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market (Tesco)
- Kroger Co. (Fred Meyer, Ralphs, Smith Food & Drug, QFC)
- Supervalu (Acme, Albertsons, bigg’s, Cub Foods, Farm Fresh, Jewel-Osco, Lucky, Save-A-Lot, Shop ‘n Save, Shaw’s, Shopper’s Food & Pharmacy)
- Trader Joe’s