Recently, the prospect of genetically modified salmon that can grow six times faster than normal fish has heightened anxiety. Aqua Bounty Farms Inc., of Waltham, Mass., is seeking U.S. and Canadian approval to alter genes to produce a growth hormone that could shave a year off the usual 2½ to three years it takes to raise a market-size fish. Commercial fishermen and other critics fear that these “frankenfish” will escape and pose an even greater danger to native species than do the Atlantic salmon. “Nobody can predict just what that means for our wild salmon,” Alaska Gov.Tony Knowles said. “We do see it as a threat.”[1]


Not to mention the breeding of Atlantic Salmon in Pacific Salmon breeding waters which is kinda stupid. “It’s just crazy to let people raise farmed fish of the same [Atlantic] species if you have wild [Pacific] stocks nearby that you’re concerned about,” says Ray Hilborn, a fisheries biologist with the University of Washington. “If they interbreed, it’s a total disaster for the wild stocks.” Coincidentally, the United Nations has declared that the introduction of alien species is, after habitat loss, the greatest threat to global biodiversity. Yet salmon farmers still use Atlantic salmon in Pacific pens.[2]


Lastly the pigment used in farmed salmon canthaxanthin is manufactured by Hoffman-La Roche. The pharmaceutical company distributes its trademarked SalmoFan®, an actual fan with various shades similar to paint store swatches, so fish farmers can choose among shades of pink or red so as to mask the horrid grey the fish meat really is. This dye has been linked to causing retinal damage in those that take it as a sunless tanning pill. I am not sure why you would want to look pink or red however unless for Halloween you are going as a smoked cold cut.

The demand for seafood is only rising and will double by 2040 according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. While stupid people everywhere continue to chow down on poisonous seafood I can only say please pay attention and help with the sustainable fisheries that are trying to make a difference.


The EDF has some recommendations for you. The Eco-Best choices which means they are low in toxins and do not raise hell with the environment, are:

1. Canned salmon, wild Alaskan salmon. Although native Pacific salmon are rare and endangered in the Lower 48, Alaska’s salmon fisheries are so healthy they have earned the Marine Stewardship Council’s eco-label as “sustainable.”[3]

2. Oregon pink shrimp, spot prawns from Canada

3. Tilapia from the US

4. Farmed rainbow trout US

5. Pacific sardines wild caught

6. Farmed oysters

7. Freshwater Coho salmon farmed in the US

8. Albacore from the US or Canada, yellowfin from the US Atlantic caught by troll/pole

9. Pole caught halibut from the US

10. Many, many more. Be sure to go to their website for the entire list. http://apps.edf.org/page.cfm?tagID=1540

Tilapia is becoming a very popular fish. EDF rates South American tilapia as Eco-OK and tilapia from Asia especially China is Eco-worst. What I find troublesome is that most of the tilapia in the stores where I live is all from China as is most of the seafood. The above list shows that the US is a good bet but I have not seen one fish in any store in Wisconsin that was caught or processed by an American company. Here all of the fish are from China with a small percentage coming from other Asian countries. When I was still living in California all I had to do was drive down to any number of fishmonger establishments for an enormous variety of fresh, wild seafood. Sadly that’s not the case for the majority of land-bound states.

Super-fit Mark Sisson author of the book Primal Blueprint, comments on some of our better seafood choices:

Shellfishin general a good bet as long as you avoid the Chinese produced stuff.

Shellfish are extremely rich in vitamins and minerals. Three measly ounces of raw Pacific oyster (the bulk of which are farmed) gets you over 100% of the RDA for zinc, copper, selenium, B12, and half of the RDA for iron. For every 1.5 g of omega-3 they provide, just 0.1 g of omega-6 comes along for the ride. Bay scallops are high in magnesium and selenium, clams are good for iron, copper, and selenium, abalone for selenium and magnesium, while the lowly sea snail gives massive amounts of magnesium (200 g of snail gives over 500 mg of magnesium; maybe they’re counting the shell?) and good amounts of selenium.

Catfish- Farmed catfish is far fattier than wild catfish while being lower in omega-3s, but catfish has never been prized for its omega-3 content. While farmed catfish does have more omega-6 than wild – about 1.5g for every 100 g fillet, compared to around 0.22 g – most of the “added” fat in farmed is monounsaturated (5.7 g/100 g) and saturated (2.5 g/100 g). Not too bad, especially if you compare it to something like conventional skin-on chicken thigh, which gives you 4 g saturated fat, 6 g monounsaturated fat, and 3 g omega-6s for a 100 g serving. US catfish farmers may not be feeding their fish pristine, natural diets of bottom-dwelling crustaceans, insects, and small fish, instead opting for combinations of meat and bonemeal, bloodmeal, fishmeal, various seedmeals, corn, soy, wheat byproducts, and vitamin/mineral supplements, but catfish seem to turn out decent fatty-acid profiles despite the departure from ancestral tradition.

Toxin-wise, catfish farmed in the US are subject to strict standards and, according to a 2008 study, has very low levels of methyl-mercury and industrial contaminants like PCBs and dioxins. You may want to avoid the abdominal fat deposits on farmed catfish, however, as they contained somewhat elevated levels of dioxins. Other studies have shown conflicting results when comparing toxins levels in wild-caught and farm-raised US catfish, with some showing similar toxin levels…and others showing big disparities in favor of farm-raised. Either way, the toxins involved are at low enough concentrations not to cause worry, and they “appear to be dropping” in recent years. If you like catfish, eat American farm-raised.

Tank-farmed freshwater Coho Salmon-  It’s not as magnificent as ruby-red firm-fleshed wild Alaskan sockeye, but it is low in omega-6s, fairly high in omega-3s, gets a “Best Choice” rating and makes “The Super Green List”(good for the environment, low in PCB and mercury, high in omega-3s) from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, and spends its life in carefully monitored freshwater tanks (as opposed to tightly packed coastal nets where metals and contaminants like dioxins and PCBs accumulate).

US rainbow trout– it’s one of the better choices. It may not be a sexy, exotic fish with intense flavors and high levels of omega-3s, but it’s a solid choice with a low environmental impact, minimal levels of contaminants, and a reasonable price. Decent level of omega 3’s similar to wild trout. Farmed trout is very low in environmental contaminants. Methyl-mercury levels are well within the acceptable range. The same seems to hold true for Canadian trout, too.

US Barramundi– It’s low in overall fat, offers about 840 mg of omega-3 per 5 ounce serving, requires less wild fishmeal than other carnivorous fish, is relatively free of contaminants, lives in freshwater tanks (at least in the United States) where it can’t affect wild ocean stocks.

American Crayfish– Crayfish are great, like tiny lobsters. Crayfish farming gets a clean bill from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Not a lot of meat on them, but if fully cooked they can be entirely consumed, shell and all. If you’re too squeamish to do that, you should definitely suck out the sweet contents of the head and eat the tail.


Fuqing provence, China is the biggest farmed fish producer in the world and it is also the filthiest. Acute water shortages and water supplies contaminated by sewage, industrial waste and agricultural runoff including pesticides foul the overcrowded conditions. The fish farms, in turn, are discharging wastewater that further pollutes the water supply. To cope with the environmental corruption farmers dope the fish and water with illegal and potentially poisonous drugs including banned antibiotics, veterinary drugs, and pesticides. Enormous aquaculture farms concentrate fish waste, pesticides and veterinary drugs in their ponds and discharge the contaminated water into rivers, streams and coastal areas, often with no treatment. Half of the rivers in China are already too polluted to use the water.

China produces over 115 billion pounds of seafood per year, about 70% of the world’s seafood from huge factory farms extending the entire coastline of the eastern seaboard of China, with many more inland.

“There are heavy metals, mercury and flame retardants in fish samples we’ve tested,” said Ming Hung Wong, a professor of biology at Hong Kong Baptist University. “We’ve got to stop the pollutants entering the food system.” [4] And nearby coastal waters which are also heavily fish farmed are polluted with oil, lead, mercury and copper, according to the State Environmental Protection Administration in China.

While still in its infancy industrial fish farming has destroyed mangrove forests in Thailand, Vietnam and China, severely polluted waterways and completely altered the ecological balance of coastal areas, mostly through the discharge of wastewater. Aquaculture waste contains fish feces, rotting fish feed and residues of pesticides and veterinary drugs as well as other pollutants that were already mixed into the poor quality water supplied to farmers.

I would recommend that for now anyway to steer clear of Chinese seafood.

  1. CLEAN FISHlocated on Decatur Street in San Francisco is at the forefront providing the platform for farmers and businesses to hook up and sell sustainable toxin free fish. Learn which farms are included (there are several dozen) and whenever possible buy fish from them to help support their better way of farming. Go to www.cleanfish.com to find out which brands and companies are available. Some of the fish are absolutely gorgeous like the Carina Redfish farmed in the stunningly beautiful Mauritius Islands off the coast of Africa. Man would I like a job there!

    Mauritius Islands

Carina Redfish

  1. It is really indispensable to know where your fish is from and if it is sustainable. You can also use the Monterey Bay Aquarium wallet card, right in my back yard (past tense), which I have carried for the last ten years. They now have regional guides for wherever you happen to be shacking up these days. It really comes in handy when confronted with a big variety of fish to choose from. This way you are not supporting overfishing or environmentally toxic practices. Go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium website and download  the seafood watch pocket guide. when buying fish: http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx
  2. Eat from the lowest mercury fish group. Good small chain seafood such as squid, oysters, mackerel, sardines and mussels are the best choices. Keep in mind that the PCB contamination is for CAFO fish or feed lot fish not for clean sustainable fisheries like Loch Duart Scottish Salmon.[5] Yes, these are salmon with kilts and bagpipes-actually quite cute.
  3. If choices are limited buy wild and buy American whenever possible. The US has stricter standards than other countries.
  4. Learn how it was caught. Hook and line is the best since it allows fishermen to throw back unwanted fish and it does not damage the sea floor.
  5. Look for the Marine Stewardship Council’s label of certified sustainable seafood for your indication that it was raised in an environmentally sustainable way.
  6. Try to avoid canned seafood because the cans are often lined with BPA-plastic a gender bender xenoestrogen. The best environmentally friendly packaging is in shelf stable flexible pouches. Like the tuna you see in a bag that you always thought was gross.

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About the Author ()

Dr. Christopher Rasmussen (aka Reality Renegade) is the author of his upcoming book, "InflaNATION: Industrial Diners & A Doc In The Box." By deliberately avoiding harmful industrial foods and the Commercial Sick Care System with its Pills and Procedures paradigm, Dr Rasmussen cured himself of a deadly disease-which became the reason for writing this book. In the book, he provides the facts you must know and the solutions to regain your health, maintain wellness, and outlive your parents' generation in an extraordinarily toxic world.

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