Periodically, readers write into Nutrition Wonderland about issues we cover and we respond back to them. This is a new column we will try to feature as we move forward – send all questions to email@example.com to be featured in the mailbag.
Michelle from Virginia writes:
I read with great interest your 12/08 article on the Nutrition Wonderland website entitled “Organic Fish Standards Announced by the USDA” – very informative and I learned some new and interesting facts regarding the subject.
However I found your article while in search of a more specific question, and I’m hoping you can direct me to a source for answers.
My local grocery store carries the Clare Island Organic Salmon from Ireland brand. I’ve learned from you and others that the level of omega 3 in wild vs farm raised salmon is largely based on the diet fed the fish. I’d like to know if the organic fish raised by this company are fed a diet that results in a higher level of omega 3s? Specifically, how does the level of omega 3s in this fish compare to that of wild caught Alaskan salmon?
I went to the company’s website (www.clare-island-salmon.com) and could not find any information about the omega 3 content of this particular product. Do you know of another, unbiased source of this information?
Thank you so much. And keep doing what you do – we depend on folks like you!
Glad you found the organic fish information helpful.
This statement from the parent company gives us some insight into the brand [emphasis mine]-
Clare Island Organic Salmon are provided with special diets that contain only organic, natural ingredients and are free of genetically modified products. Phaffia, a yeast based pigment, ensures the salmon have that natural salmon-pink colour.
There is an interesting way to look at this statement – only organic ingredients implies that these fish are only eating vegetables, not other fish and krill like wild fish would. We know this because there still are no wild fish farms that produce smaller fish for the salmon to eat. Clare island is part of a large firm called Marine Harvest, and large firms tend to cut corners on quality. We also know they are probably using GMO-free corn probably and not using pink dyes. Both of those are good steps but nutritionally, corn gives a higher omega 6:3 ratio so you are missing out there.
Generally, salmon in colder waters will have more fat and better fat – which is logical if you think about it. Its cold so they are trying to protect themselves from the cold with more fat by eating more krill – which is their main source of omega-3s naturally. That’s why wild Alaskan salmon is your best bet.
You probably aren’t hurting yourself with the farm raised product but a wild Alaskan salmon would do you better. I find that trader joe’s offers a nice product as does whole foods. You can also try to buy in bulk online straight from Alaska if you have a freezer to store it in.
The Weston A. Price foundation publishes a great shopping guide that can help guide you to the right foods – they are only $1 each. Unfortunately its not online but I have one and highly recommend it – there are fisheries listed in there.
Here is the order form: