You’ve likely heard it asserted for years: wild-caught is better than farm-raised. But why, exactly? And what does “better” really mean?
Let’s start with that second question. We firmly believe that, when it comes to the vast majority of seafood, wild-caught isn’t just better than farm-raised — it’s more nutritious, sustainable and ethical. When we say “better,” we mean both better for your body and for the environment.
To show you why, here are the top five things we think you need to know about the differences between farm-raised and wild-caught fish:
Farm-raised fish have a vastly different diet than wild-caught fish.
Because farm-raised fish are bred for consumption, they are often given high-fat, high-protein processed food to keep costs down and encourage the growth of larger fish. However, this diet affects the nutritional make-up on the fish when it is eaten. In fact, some estimates show farm-raised salmon to have three times the amount of saturated fat and 46% more calories than wild-caught salmon.
Farm-raised fish is more likely to be contaminated.
Because they are raised in a confined environment, the water is more likely to get contaminated and spread to more fish. For instance, one of the more common contaminants regularly found in farm-raised salmon are polychlorinated biphenyls, which are associated with cancer. One study found that farm-raised salmon had PCB levels that were eight times higher than wild-caught.
It’s a difference you can see.
Especially true of salmon, if you compare a wild-caught filet with a farm-raised filet, the health differences in the fish are instantly recognizable. While wild-caught salmon is generally a bright pink color, farm-raised is often muted and dull.
Wild-caught is more sustainable when well-regulated.
While there is some debate on this, when fished with sustainable practices, wild-caught fish has a smaller environmental impact, particularly due to the lower level of toxins they introduce into the ecosystem. Sustainability regulations ensure that overfishing isn’t an issue with wild-caught fish, so look for that as another marker of quality when making your purchase.
Wild-caught fish tastes better.
While this one is slightly subjective, we’re firm believers that the natural eating patterns of the fish and the ability to thrive in a natural environment makes for a better tasting final product.
If nutrition and environmental sustainability is something you care about, the answer to the question of, “Is wild-caught fish better than farm-raised fish?” is clear. And if you’re now asking, “But where can I buy wild-caught fish?”, well, we can also help with that.