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Wild or Farmed?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
I am simply trying to stir the pot here. :smiles:
When it comes to fish, which do you prefer? How do you explain the differences to your customers? Do you really feel that there are safety issue with farmed fish or shellfish vs wild? I would be most interested in what your customers are saying. Are they well educated about the latest farming techniques? Are they simply educated by the first paragraph or two of a mass media article? Or do they simply not care as long as it taste good? Furthermore, I think the question that I would like to see the most answers for is this: What, if any, affects will any kind of seafood certification (ie.. MSC or Organic) have in your home or in the food service industry?
Believe me, I am not advocating fish farming in way, shape or form. I do believe strongly in sustainable harvest. I also know that we here in the U.S. import over 80% of our seafood, and that number is getting larger every year. Our appetite for seafood in the U.S. is growing substantially and there is an overwhelming amount of information out there about how to fill that appetite.
Let's hear it. I am sure that most of us have a story or two and an opinion to go along with them.:D
Fishmonger Ran
"The health benefits of eating fish, far out-weigh any risks of eating it"
http://dontfearfish.blogspot.com
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Fishmonger Ran
"The health benefits of eating fish, far out-weigh any risks of eating it"
http://dontfearfish.blogspot.com
Reply
post #2 of 25
While there are certainly environmental issues surrounding the whole fish-farming industry, the fact is most people cannot tell the difference in a blind taste test.

Not surprising. There are more entries in the myth-vs-reality category with seafood than with any other food type.

Case in point: I just ran into someboy who insisted that FAS tastes distictly different than fresh, and she would only eat fresh. Considering that we're 700 miles from the nearest ocean, I wonder who she thinks she's kidding---besides herself.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #3 of 25
As an ignorant customer, I would much, much rather consume wild-caught fish over farm raised.

They surely must be healthier!

I can't quote any particular study that emphasizes the benefits, but then a study is only as good as its funder. :D

How would God prefer we eat them?
post #4 of 25
And Tillamook is pretty low on the cheddar totem pole.

One of the things that surprised me when I was in Alaska was the number of restaurants that served melted cheese on their otherwise wonderful halibut and salmon.

I agree with you that farmed salmon in no way compares with wild Pacific salmon from the northwest, especially Alaskan salmon. I love the Copper River fish, but most any will make my mouth water.

scb
post #5 of 25
I'm going to say this much, if everybody decided to switched to eating wild fish then we'd probably be doing more damage to the ocean's stocks than we already are. Unless the population of the affluent world suddenly dropped by half and we decided to all become vegetarians (a problem unto itself) we're going to have to find safe, sustainable fish farming methods that yield a good product.

The ancient Sumerians practiced irresponsible and unsustainable irrigation practices four thousand years ago, which resulted in a vast salination of parts of the Fertile Crescent leading to famine... Modern technology has solved some of those problems but created new ones.

Of course, there's always soylent green.
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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post #6 of 25
Come to think of it, I only had halibut served with cheese, but that may have been because once I had it I always made sure to tell the server that I didn't want cheese on my fish.

I did not have anything as "grandiose" has Halibut Olympia, just melted cheese on the fish. This was served to me in Haines, and offered in Wasilla, Anchorage, Esther, and at least one other town.

shel
post #7 of 25
Thread Starter 
This is more true than most people would like to believe. Several times a year (around this time when Copper River is running and Wild salmon are starting their season) I do a blind taste test for my customers. I will use King (Chinook) salmon. I cook them all at the same time, using the same the seasonings (olive oil and dill), then I place the samples on a sample tray and ask my customers to tell me the difference. I have not worked out the actual percentage or ratio, but the margin is huge for those who simply cannot tell a difference between the three. Those are what I call "Average" customers. Not "Foodies." The "Foodies" can tell just by looking at the choices which is farmed and which is not. It is a very rare occasion when they can tell the difference between the Fresh Troll King and the Fresh Copper River King, even by taste. I live and work here in the Northwest where the salmon is King, and EVERYONE has an opinion.

Thanks for the posts folks.
Fishmonger Ran
"The health benefits of eating fish, far out-weigh any risks of eating it"
http://dontfearfish.blogspot.com
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Fishmonger Ran
"The health benefits of eating fish, far out-weigh any risks of eating it"
http://dontfearfish.blogspot.com
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post #8 of 25
Depends on species.

BDL
post #9 of 25
Thread Starter 
BDL - Are you not well? I think that is the shortest post I have read from you since I joined this forum. lol! I was really looking forward to your experienced mind and eloquent teaching.
Fishmonger Ran
"The health benefits of eating fish, far out-weigh any risks of eating it"
http://dontfearfish.blogspot.com
Reply
Fishmonger Ran
"The health benefits of eating fish, far out-weigh any risks of eating it"
http://dontfearfish.blogspot.com
Reply
post #10 of 25
Oh come on Shel, Tillamook got best rating of big cheese producers. What totem pole are you visiting? Nobody said Tillamook was absolute best there is but hey best in class? Let's see you do that. Is your totem pole a shrub in back of your house?

Give credit where credit is due.
post #11 of 25
The reality is that most types of seafood which are successfully farm raised have driven wild off the market. Salmon and shrimp are two which have not, as yet and there are others. Usually, if wild is available I'll choose that over farmed. But I also choose "sustainable" over "the Japanese are going to wipe it out in four years," always. A lot of the choice is made by the fish monger, too. As you're well aware. I can only buy what's available, and from that only that which catches my interest as well as meets my standards.

By example:
Catfish -- Can you get that wild?
Oysters -- Farmed usually
Salmon -- Wild, or don't bother.
Shrimp -- Live over "fresh" before wild over farmed
Tilapia -- Can you get that wild?
Trout -- Ditto
And so on.


We had some difficulty finding a good fish market on this side of megalopolis, until we started shopping in Asian markets. We currently go to "Vien Dong," aka "Food Super Warehouse" for fish. They have the largest selection of live fish, and one of the largest of live shell fish I've seen in a store. They have an excellent selection of whole fish on ice in front of the counter you can handle before you buy, and a wide selection of cleaned and processed or partially processed fish in the counter. Plus, a huge selection of vacuum packed and frozen seafood. The super-market itself isn't dirty by Asian standards, but it isn't particularly clean by American. Yet, with all the fish displayed in front of the counter the place does not smell like fish. Not at all. The selection is tied for freshest I've seen in any large fish market in Los Angeles with Santa Monica Fish Market. The selection is much wider -- if sometimes lacking in western favorites.

The prices are unbelievably good. Live Atlantic lobster is $9.99/lb. Yellowtail seems to be on perpetual sale at $3.99. Wild salmon is $4/lb less than anywhere else. They charge 20 cents a pound to fillet, but the butchering isn't very good. I'm buying wholes, sides or quarters more often than I used to and filleting or steaking myself. It's not that they lack the skills -- they just go too fast and are backstopped by clientèle that doesn't mind hunting down the bones. A lot of the packaged is too exotic for my wife -- who's not much of a fish eater. So, we're going slow on that, but it's fun.

Happy now?
BDL
post #12 of 25

Farming is the Future

I used to be a solid believer in the benefits and superior quality of wild seafood. Now I am starting to see the light. The future of seafood depends on increased production of farmed seafood to meet the growing demands of consumers both here and worldwide. So while promoting farmed seafood we must try to insure that the fish is raised in a sustainable way, does no harm to the environment, and is a superior product. By the way it has been my experience that those aquaculturists that meet the first two requirements are very successful in making the end product taste great.
Matthew Hovey
sustainable fishmonger
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Matthew Hovey
sustainable fishmonger
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post #13 of 25

Confused and concerned...

Indeed...it is amazing to me that even in this allegedly enlightened age, sustainability is not a major factor in everyone's consumptive behaviours...and yes, this includes our buying habits and general perspectives on what is "acceptable". I've been following the threads on tilapia on this forum and it amazes me how many comments/opinions shared are based on little to no information/research. I am proud to be part of a family based, aquaponics start up and philosophically I believe developing and implementing technology which will prevent the nutritional needs of today's human population from destroying...sometimes in an irreversible manner...species and environments which our children will inherit is both conscientious and an urgently needed paradigm shift.

All the negative references to farmed seafood makes me wonder if humanity as a whole has enough collective intelligence to survive in the long term...as the world population doubles in the next 50 years, how will we feed everyone in a sustainable manner? Or should we just fish like there's no tomorrow to satisfy the demand for "wild caught" seafood for everyone TODAY without concern for the future???

Will our cultural evolution of the personal entitlement soceity eventually be our undoing? I wonder...and I sincerely hope such is not the case.

RC
post #14 of 25
Indeed...it is amazing to me that even in this allegedly enlightened age, sustainability is not a major factor in everyone's consumptive behaviours...and yes, this includes our buying habits and general perspectives on what is "acceptable". I've been following the threads on tilapia on this forum and it amazes me how many comments/opinions shared are based on little to no information/research. I am proud to be part of a family based, aquaponics start up and philosophically I believe developing and implementing technology which will prevent the nutritional needs of today's human population from destroying...sometimes in an irreversible manner...species and environments which our children will inherit is both conscientious and an urgently needed paradigm shift.

All the negative references to farmed seafood makes me wonder if humanity as a whole has enough collective intelligence to survive in the long term...as the world population doubles in the next 50 years, how will we feed everyone in a sustainable manner? Or should we just fish like there's no tomorrow to satisfy the demand for "wild caught" seafood for everyone TODAY without concern for the future???

Will our cultural evolution of the personal entitlement soceity eventually be our undoing? I wonder...and I sincerely hope such is not the case.

RC
post #15 of 25
Bravo! The one change I'd make to your message so that it conforms more strictly to the truth is to change the spelling of one word, "whole." The nature of the situation would be better represented if the sentence fragment read, "humanity as a hole..."

Aye, there's the rub,
BDL
post #16 of 25

But will they pay?

As always the thoughtfull posts here are looking toward the future. My question is will they pay, or better yet how much is sustainable seafood worth to you? How much more can you charge your customer for sustainable seafood?
Matthew Hovey
sustainable fishmonger
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Matthew Hovey
sustainable fishmonger
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post #17 of 25

How much is sustainable seafood worth to you?

Economics or resource allocation will always drive the viability of any human endeavor...but in the case of food, the extreme possible outcome is that we as a species repeat our mistakes and do not take a broader view of the future result of our actions today. The cultivators of farmed fish and shellfish must find ways to provide these products via a technology/business model that both sufficiently rewards them for their efforts and provides a desirable product at a competitive price. Make no mistake, we are absolutely still in the infancy of commercial aquaculture/aquaponics, but people must begin to realize this makes practical sense from every possible viewpoint...especially Americans. Across the globe there are significant capital investments in aquaculture technology going on...except here in the U.S. of A. Why do you suppose this is? Why do we represent less than 1% of total farmed finfish/shellfish production? Are we comfortable with this form of protein being "farmed" elsewhere with limited capacity of our own domestically?

So...how much is the sustainable aspect worth? I think that's largely irrelevant. The real question is how much longer can the oceans provide healthy, cheap, "wild caught" foodstuffs? Do we wait till the obvious end result hits us proverbially between the eyes? Or do we make an effort to use the grey matter we are blessed with to engineer a sustainable alternative to continuing to impact natures balance? Yes, some harvesting can be helpful or insignificant to natural systems, but for the most part nature's ecosystems have their own checks and balances that absolutely do not require human intervention. The good ol' days of apparent endless supply from nature are over...or will be soon. In some cases, in my lifetime...which I find personally chilling. All I'm suggesting is that we open our eyes and begin to concern ourselves with how our choices TODAY impact our future...the economics are merely a function of innovation and conscious choice.

On a personal level, sustainable food of every kind is very important to me. There is a large system in place behind the scenes that produces and distributes foodstuffs to us all...this system has placed margins, like any business, as priority one. The outcome has been poor practices at times which have impacted both the environment and consumer as well as the producers in the past...all in the name of glowing quarterly financial reports. We can and need to be more holistic than this in our thinking and actions.

Jumping off oversized soapbox now! ;-) Thanks to the thread originator, good discussion...RC
post #18 of 25
>My question is will they pay, or better yet how much is sustainable seafood worth to you?<

I'm sorry, Maybe I'm misreading your question.

Virtually anywhere I've been the past few years, fish labeled "wild caught" carries a premium compared to comparable farmed.

In short, one of it's draws is snob appeal.

Certainly anyone willing to pay $22/lb for wild caught X-fish would be willing to pay $17 for farmed.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #19 of 25
Actually, sustainable species are usually less expensive than endangered, and farmed are nearly always less expensive than wild.

With the preferred species of Pacific salmon, like King, wild is MUCH better. My guess is that this is as much a function of bad aquaculturing as innate differences. However, this year, for a number of reasons the Pacific salmon runs of the better species will be significantly reduced. So your choice is farmed or the poorhouse.

BDL
post #20 of 25
MyDogCisco-

Interesting to hear somebody in the industry. Could you answer some of the bad allegations I've read about it?

I've heard the farmed fish are laced with antibiotics to prevent disease in the crowded tanks/ponds; that they poison the seafloor with their concentrated droppings, and the salmon/trout are fed dyed food to enhance the color of their flesh.

Tell us it ain't so, Joe! :mad:

Mike
travelling gourmand
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travelling gourmand
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post #21 of 25
Thread Starter 
chub/griz,
Heard. Understood. Felt. Very well stated.

I will try to answer the following questions with what I understand to be true. I get several trade publications both in my email and snail mail almost daily. And just as often, there has been new research, new studies, new findings and new health warnings from both industry (aquaculture, buyers, retailers, processors) and from NGO's who tell us what not to eat and why. I am elbow deep in this stuff from my customers concerns to my buyers complaints almost daily. When replying to my customers concerns, I always give the pro's and con's as I know them and let them decide from there.
"I've heard the farmed fish are laced with antibiotics to prevent disease in the crowded tanks/ponds; that they poison the seafloor with their concentrated droppings, and the salmon/trout are fed dyed food to enhance the color of their flesh."

Emamectin Benzoate is a USDA approved (take that how you want to) "Pesticide." This pesticide is used to control the sea lice which introduce bacteria (viruses) into the farmed fish which then spreads really quickly throughout the population of fish.

"Don't they use dyes in the fishmeal?" Farmed Salmon is given a carotene (yes, in the same family as beta-carotene which colors the carrot), Astaxanthin. The same carotene that wild salmon eat, but this is man made. The same comparison of vitamin C is man made and an orange comes form a tree. The same Astaxanthin given to Farmed Salmon is sold in vitamin stores for human consumption because this carotene is good for you. If you did not add this suplement to the feed, the salmon would be kind of a translucent grey color. Not very appetizing.

As for the "Droppings," absolutely. But again, this must be taken with a grain-of-salt. Has to do with where the pens are located. Is there good current, is it open ocean, is it closed pen? If it is closed pen, what kind of filtration? How often is it filtered? Where does the post-filter go? No solid answers here.

I am not the biggest fan of Farmed fish. Mostly because of flavor. Then maybe a little about farming practices. In my wildest dreams I can see a future wild salmon fishery that has encompassed the management the Alaskan fisheries are so successful at. With the U.S. importing over 80% of it's consumable fish, there has to be room for aquaculture in order to supplement our growing appetite.
It is very complex issue that deserves more attention than I can give it here.
Once again, I refer to my tag line, "The health benefits of eating fish far out-weigh any risks of eating it."

It is nice to see some educated and thoughtful replies and opinions in this thread.
Fishmonger Ran
"The health benefits of eating fish, far out-weigh any risks of eating it"
http://dontfearfish.blogspot.com
Reply
Fishmonger Ran
"The health benefits of eating fish, far out-weigh any risks of eating it"
http://dontfearfish.blogspot.com
Reply
post #22 of 25
Griz,

What about species other than salmon? Oysters, catfish, tilapia and shrimp are a few of the animals which have been cultured very successfully.

In fact, I had tilapia today as mojarra diabla, from a wonderful Mexican dive called Mi Jacalito (My Little Shack) on Valley in El Monte. Diablo or Diabla is a sauce made from fresh and dried chiles -- incredibly spicy. Somehow they fry the mojarra in such a way that the skin is crisp, the flesh is well done without being too well done, and the flavor of the fish stands up to the sauce. A large fish is served with fries, beans, rice, lettuce with guacamole, and handmade corn tortillas. Did I mention the frosty cans of Tecate with lime and salt? Just a light snack, you understand. One of my favorite things in the world.

BDL
post #23 of 25
I think it was the Wall Street Journal that, a couple of years ago, had laboratory genetic tests done on supposedly wild-caught salmon that they bought from a number of reliable purveyors. It turned out that many of the samples were actually farmed. As I recall, the sellers were themselves surprised and not trying to cheat people, but this illustrates how little difference there can be between farmed and caught fish.

Given the precarious state of so many fish populations it is irresponsible and foolish to continue eating them. It’s not just a question of maybe not having some favorite fish to eat any more; it has even more to do with the interactions among various ocean species (including “bycatch” that is simply discarded) that can affect what the waters will be able to provide in the future. There are plenty of fish species that are farmed or caught in ways that do not put the populations at risk. Check the information at the Monterey Bay Aquarium's web site, where there are lists of fish which are the most responsible food choices.
post #24 of 25

Hasta la vista, baby!

In fact, I had tilapia today as mojarra diabla...

BDL-

You're gonna die! :eek:

Popular fish has wrong kind of fatty acids - Diet and nutrition - MSNBC.com

Sorry.

Mike
travelling gourmand
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travelling gourmand
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post #25 of 25
Mike,

However much omega 6 there is in tilapia there's enough chili in the diabla to render it irrelevant.

BDL
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