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Feb 21, 2007 01:55 PM

Eating farm raised salmon of questionable mercury content outweigh the risk of not eating salmon at all?

It is recommended to eat about 4 oz. salmon 3 times a week. Due to personal reasons, buying wild salmon & cooking it myself is not an option. Most restaurants use farmed salmon instead of wild salmon, whose mercury & PCB levels are generally unknown but I assume acceptable since they are sold in the market. Does the total benefit of eating farm raised salmon of questionable mercury & PCB content outweigh the risk of not eating salmon at all?

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  1. I believe that the issues with farmed salmon vs. wild is not the mercury content but the potential of elevated PCB's.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Amuse Bouches

      I believe the current issue is that parasites (sea lice) in salmon farms might make
      the wild salmon population extinct.

      Here are the New York Times (12/13) and Toronto Star (12/19) stories:

    2. broadened my question to include PCBs

      1. The health benefit is the omega 3's. There are other dietary sources if you are worried about PCB's and mercury. Although mercury and lead levels are much higher in bigger fish like swordfish and tuna.

        You can find foods fortified with Omega 3 fatty acids such as breads, juices, meal bars, margarine’s and oils. Supplements are also widely available, the most popular being Linseed/Flaxseed oil (which is one of the most concentrated plant sources of Omega 3).

        Other good plant based sources of Omega 3 fatty acids are:

        Leafy Green Vegetables

        For a double hit make a spinach and walnut salad. Add any other ingredients of your choice.


        Walnuts, Brazil Nuts, Hazelnuts, Pecans. Brilliant as a snack instead of chocolate or sweets. Toast slightly under grill for a great taste.


        Especially sesame seeds. Choose a seeded roll when you go shopping. Sesame seeds also complement any slightly sweet or spicy chilli dressing.


        Tahini is a sesame seed paste that is used itself as a dip, and also as a base for some Middle Eastern sauces such as curries, as a 'roux' would be in European cooking.


        A great tasting chickpea/garbanzo bean dip (one of my favourites) – made with a tahini base!


        Soya Bean Oil, Sunflower Oil, Canola Oil, Rapeseed Oil, Linseed/Flaxseed Oil. Most of these can be found in your local supermarket. Experiment when cooking, marinating and dressing.


        Egg yolks, both chicken and duck, are a good source of omega 3 fatty acids.

        2 Replies
        1. re: lisaf

          Good list, lisaf.

          Grass-fed beef (NOT grain-fed beef) is another good source of Omega-3s. Actually, grass-fed animals of any variety (including bison, lamb, elk, etc) are a good source of Omega-3s.

          1. re: oolah

            And why is that? Because (as I'm sure many of you know) you are what you eat. Grains are high in Omega 6, but we have plenty of those. Grasses are high in Omega 3.

        2. I don't like farmed because it has no flavour, luckily I live in BC so I can eat salmon all the time and I only get wild. But I'm just lucky like that :)
          Plus they shoot the farmed full of dyes nad stuff - ick

          1 Reply
          1. re: starlady

            Here here! I gave up on eating Salmon when I moved to Florida because the wild stuff is so hard to find. When I can get it, I stock up! It keeps very well in Foodsaver bags.

            Otherwise, I just eat something else.

          2. I can't help but be curious about what would prevent you from purchasing and cooking wild salmon.

            In any case, I would guess that if you look around you will find some restaurants that would serve wild salmon.

            And, as LisaF pointed out, there are a lot of other sources for the various benefits of salmon. And I would guess that if you are eating salmon for health benefits, wild salmon with likely be richer in the many good things in salmon.

            In any case, the main reason to steer clear of farmed salmon is taste. Once you eat wild, the farmed stuff just isn't much good.

            2 Replies
            1. re: andytee

              alaskan wild salmon is sold in tins in every market in america. no cooking required. there are so many other questions about farmed fish besides pcbs, i avoid it at all costs.

              1. re: hotoynoodle

                Plus most costcos and sam's club also sell frozen salmon both of the wild and farmed variety. I would skip the farmed for all of the reasons previously stated. Can't stand the stuff myself, but love, love, love the wild.