Wild Salmon vs. Farmed Salmon

A great choice for pan-searing, grilling, roasting, poaching, smoking, and curing, Salmon is one of the most versatile fish you can buy.

One of the biggest dilemmas comes at the seafood counter. Fish such as Salmon and Trout provide many health benefits and contain lots of Omega-3 Fatty Acids, which your body can’t make itself. The only way to get them is through your diet — and the American Heart Association recommends we eat two servings of fish each week (a total of 6 to 8 ounces).

Both farmed and wild Salmon have nutrients we all need. A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that farmed fish is not only less healthy than wild caught fish, but can actually contain serious contaminants.

Like industrial cattle farming, fish farming packs hundreds of individual fish into a relatively small area, which increases the risk of disease. To counteract this, farmers treat the fish with large doses of antibiotics. This leaves significant traces of antibiotics in the fish itself, and also drives the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Farmed fish have also been shown to contain more fat and less protein than wild caught fish, and may even contain up to eleven times the dioxin, a highly toxic compound that is a by-product of manufacturing processes.

It is clear that the risks associated with farmed fish are higher than concerns about wild fish. If you want to get the many health benefits fish such as salmon provide, your best bet is to keep it wild. The flavor and texture differences between wild and farmed Salmon can be significant. What are the differences?

Wild vs Farmed Salmon

Wild: The salmon was caught in open waters, usually in areas of the Pacific ocean.

  • Alias: Pacific
  • Species: Chinook (King), Chum (Dog or Silverbrite), Coho (Silver), Pink (Humpy or Humpback), Sockeye (Red)
  • Flesh color: Deep pink due to compound called Astaxanthin from Crustacean-based diet
  • Texture: Firm and meaty
  • Availability: Late Spring to early Fall

Farmed: The salmon was bred and raised in a confined aquaculture system.

  • Alias: Atlantic
  • Origin: Raised on farms primarily in Norway, Scotland, Chile, and Canada
  • Flesh color: Naturally gray but turns pale pink from synthetic Astaxanthin and Carotenoid pigment in feed
  • Texture: Soft and buttery
  • Availability: Year-round