Wild-Caught Fish vs Farm-raised Fish: Which Is Best?
Heart-healthy seafood such as salmon, cod, and trout are always great choices, yet they’re particularly appealing in summertime. High-quality fatty fish are an excellent source of many dietary nutrients your body needs to function optimally, including Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and vitamin D.
While you may be concerned about mercury in fish, as long as you choose responsibly, the health benefits supersede any potential hazard.1 This is especially true if you support your body’s natural detoxification process with my Recovery Kit that features glutathione, the master detoxifier and free-radical fighter, and coconut charcoal to bind to toxins and move them out of the body.
Choosing the right varieties of fish is critical. Albacore tuna, king mackerel, orange roughy, marlin, shark, swordfish, and tilefish have the greatest likelihood of mercury contamination. Better choices with lower mercury levels and higher levels of Omega-3s include salmon, rainbow trout, sardines, mussels, and Atlantic mackerel.2
Where the fish comes from is just as important. Many people ask me, which is healthier — wild-caught fish or farm-raised? In this article, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of both.
What is Fish Farming?
Fish “farming”, or aquaculture, is simply the breeding, raising, and harvesting of aquatic animals. This can happen in salt water and/or fresh water. Aquaculture provides food for humans and rebuilds stocks of threatened aquatic species.3 It is the fastest growing global food production method.4
It’s also one of the oldest. The earliest evidence of fish farming dates back to before 1000 BC in China. It was also a common practice in Europe and ancient Rome.5
Salmon, cod, shrimp, tuna, trout, and halibut are among the most commonly farmed saltwater fish. Currently, Atlantic salmon is the most significant farmed sea-based fin fish species with more than 2.3 million tons produced globally in 2014.6 Common freshwater farmed fish include tilapia, catfish, barramundi, striped bass, and rainbow trout.
What are the Pros and Cons of Farm-Raised Fish?
Pros of Farm-Raised Fish
Aquaculture provides a nutrient-rich source of protein for millions of people around the world.
- Boosts Employment:
Fish farming is a source of livelihood for 660-820 million people globally, depending fully or partially on fisheries and aquaculture activities.7
- Broadens Availability:
The price of farm-raised fish is lower than wild-caught, making it more affordable. It is also more readily available.
- Increases Food Security:
Fish farming provides a dependable, replenishable food source for much of the world.
- Reduces Overfishing:
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, 32% of the global fish population is depleted and urgently needs to be replenished. Fish farming can alleviate the overfishing problem and provide a more stable source of fish.8
Cons of Farm-Raised Fish
Fish farming now accounts for half of all fish consumed worldwide, according to Stanford University. Yet the process has many disadvantages.
- Chemical Use:
Parasites such as sea lice abound in fish kept in aquaculture systems, so farmers often fight these conditions with pesticides.
- Disease Spread:
Viruses and bacteria spread rapidly among fish kept in close close proximity.9 Farmers treat these conditions with antibiotics that remain in the fish flesh.
- Ecosystem Damage:
Smaller forager fish species such as anchovy may be overfished to feed the larger, carnivorous species of farmed fish,10 causing a disruption of the marine ecosystem.
- Environmental Hazards:
Contamination and toxins can leach into the surrounding habitat. Antibiotics and chemicals used to treat fish diseases and parasites can leak into the soil.
- Habitat Destruction:
Non-native farmed species can escape and become invasive, destroying native plant and animal species.
- Nutrient Reduction:
Fish such as farm-raised salmon are often fed corn and soy-based fish meal, rather than their natural diet. This diet has led to a 50% reduction of Omega-3s in farmed salmon in the last 10 years. Because farmed fish has far fewer carotenoids — the substance that makes salmon pink — the flesh appears gray. Farmers add coloring to make it an appetizing shade of pink, like wild-caught salmon.
What are the Pros and Cons of Wild-Caught Fish?
Wild-caught fish feed according to the natural food chain, and swim in open waters, therefore producing a leaner, more muscular animal.
Pros of Wild-Caught Fish
Aside from the ethical concerns that arise from farming fish, there are health reasons to opt for the wild-caught variety
- Greater Nutritive Value:
Wild-caught fish is richer in Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D.
- Less Disease:
Because wild fish don’t live in close quarters, they are less likely to spread virus and bacteria.11
- Lower Saturated Fat Levels:
Because wild fish swim freely and eat a natural diet, they have less saturated fat than farmed fish.
- No Pesticides:
Wild-caught fish are not exposed to pesticides to treat sea lice and other parasites.
Cons of Wild-Caught Fish
Wild-caught fish live in open oceans, rivers, and lakes, so water quality is crucial to the heath of the fish. The cleaner the water, the cleaner the fish.
- Diminished Populations:
The population of fish such as wild-caught salmon is diminishing as a result of overfishing.
- Lower Availability:
Wild-caught fish can sometimes be harder to find and is usually more expensive.
- Unknown Environment:
Their environment cannot be controlled, so there is an element of the unknown regarding potential toxins in the fish.
Why Farm-Raised Fish vs. Wild Caught Fish Matters
The environment is contaminated from fish farms yet overfishing and extinction can occur as well. I want you to experience your best health, and wild-caught fish is one of the best sources of protein on the planet — which we also want to take care of!
Opt for wild-caught fish when you can, and inquire about the source of the fish variety that you purchase. Fish caught from fresh, clean waters is always the best option for your optimal health. Vital Choice is my trusted source for wild-caught fish that’s shipped directly to my home.
Because there are trace amounts of toxins in nearly all fish no matter how they were raised, it’s important to detox your body from heavy metals and contaminants. To support your detoxification process, I recommend my Recovery Kit supplement. Glutathione is the most powerful free radical scavenger produced by your body and a potent chelator of heavy metals and toxins
Unlike other forms that oxidize before they can be used, my physician-formulated supplement is acetylated for maximum absorption into your cells. I also added magnesium for balance and support, so you’ll get the most from this important immune booster.
My Coconut Charcoal is made from pure coconut shells and is ground to an ultra-fine powder for maximum surface area and absorbency. This activated charcoal’s surface is covered by millions of tiny pores that bind and capture all manner of toxins — including heavy metals that can be a concern when you eat fish. Choose the best varieties of fish and enjoy this excellent protein source frequently!
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