The Food Supply

You like sea food, right?  And at the super market you spot a package of two salmon fillets, on display, in the meat case just begging you to take them home.

But did you know that these farm raised fish are grown in cages suspended in the ocean?  And instead of eating their natural diet of krill, which gives salmon the pink color, they are fed fish meal. The fish meal produces a white fillet which then has an additive applied to make the meat pink.

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They say that wild salmon is best, but what if you can’t always get wild salmon? Is it safe to eat farm-raised or do you just not eat it ? I see farm-raised from Canada and always think maybe that’s better, but is it?

Answer:  This is a great question as many people are confused about salmon consumption, which may lead them to eat less and miss out on all the terrific health benefits, especially when it comes to heart health.

The American Heart Association recommends eating fish, especially fatty fish such as salmon, at least twice a week to ensure you get plenty of heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids. Fresh or farmed: Dr. Jampolis revisits her answer

To get a few more answers for you, I consulted Jane Houlihan, senior vice president for research of the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization that has examined this subject in detail. She told me the following:

“Nearly all salmon Americans eat are farm-raised — grown in dense-packed pens near ocean shores, fed fish meal that can be polluted with toxic PCB chemicals, awash in excrement flushed out to sea and infused with antibiotics to combat unsanitary conditions. Some salmon are raised on farms that use more sustainable methods, but you can’t tell from the packaging.

Eating farmed salmon occasionally is not a great health concern, but risks can add up if you eat salmon often. But the long-term environmental damage caused by the industry is substantial. We recommend wild salmon over farmed whenever possible.”

A 2003 report by the EWG showed that farmed salmon in the U.S. has the highest levels of PCBs, toxic man-made chemicals, so Canadian salmon may be slightly better. I suggest that you limit farmed salmon consumption to once a week at most if you are unable to find fresh, wild salmon. In addition, trim the skin and fat as much as possible and use cooking methods such as grilling and boiling to reduce fat, as this is where the toxics are stored.

You also may want to try canned salmon, which is much easier to find in the wild form and is much less expensive. And finally, try to eat a variety of fish to minimize your risk. Other good fish sources of omega 3 fatty acids include mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines and albacore tuna.

Bet ya didn’t know that.

And how about eating beef?

“We’ve come to think of “corn-fed” as some kind of old-fashioned virtue, which it may well be when you’re referring to Midwestern children, but feeding large quantities of corn to cows for the greater part of their lives is a practice neither particularly old nor virtuous. Its chief advantage is that cows fed corn, a compact source of caloric energy, get fat quickly; their flesh also marbles well, giving it a taste and texture American consumers have come to like. Yet this corn-fed meat is demonstrably less healthy for us, since it contains more saturated fat and less omega-3 fatty acids than the meat of animals fed grass. A growing body of research suggests that many of the health problems associated with eating beef are really problems with corn-fed beef.”

From Wikipedia

A feedlot or feedyard is a type of animal feeding operation (AFO) which is used in factory farming for finishing livestock, notably beefcattle, but also swine, horses, sheep, turkeys, chickens or ducks, prior to slaughter. Large beef feedlots are called Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). They may contain thousands of animals in an array of pens. Most feedlots require some type of governmental permit and must have plans in place to deal with the large amount of waste that is generated.

. . .

Prior to entering a feedlot, cattle spend most of their life grazing on rangeland or on immature fields of grain such as green wheat pasture. Once cattle obtain an entry-level weight, about 650 pounds (300 kg), they are transferred to a feedlot to be fed a specialized diet which consists of corn byproducts (derived from ethanol production), barley, and other grains as well as alfalfa. Feeds sometimes contain animal byproducts or cottonseed meal, and minerals. In the American northwest and Canada, barley, low grade durum wheat, chick peas (garbanzo beans), oats and occasionally potatoes are used as feed.

In a typical feedlot, a cow’s diet is roughly 95% grain. High-grain diets lower the pH in the animals’ rumen. Due to the stressors of these conditions, antibiotics become necessary to be given to the animal.

Feedlot diets are usually very dense in food energy, to encourage the deposition of fat (known as marbling in butchered meat) in the animal’s muscles. This fat is desirable to consumers, as it contributes to flavor and tenderness. The animal may gain an additional 400 pounds (180 kg) during its 3–4 months in the feedlot.Once cattle are fattened up to their finished weight, the fed cattle are transported to a slaughterhouse.

I want to draw your attention to Due to the stressors of these conditions, antibiotics become necessary to be given to the animal.  Is it good for humans to be eating meat that has been loaded with antibiotics for the last four months of it’s life?  And we wonder why MRSA is a growing problem?

If the fact that grass is a natural food for cows and that corn is not a natural food is not in your brain yet, I want it to be there – for ever

I am pointing out what may be inconvenient truths.  I fully realize that both ‘organic’ and/or ‘grass fed’ beef is significantly more expensive than corn-fed, feed lot beef.

But we’ve learned that eating healthy is expensive.

Explore posts in the same categories: Domestic Issues

One Comment on “The Food Supply”

  1. I shudder to think of the things that routinely enter our food supply. I will no longer eat Gulf seafood. I will only eat wild-caught Sockeye salmon, but who is to ensure the packaging is honest?

    Mostly I am vegetarian out of disgust with Big Agra and the insuffciiency of our regulatory agencies.

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