Neuron Culture

Suddenly it’s salmon everywhere — or in some cases, nowhere.

My story on “The Wild Salmon Debate: A Fresh Look at Whether Eating Farmed Salmon is … Well … OK,” was published a couple weeks ago in Eating Well. You can see the Eating Well web version here or download a pdf here. The story describes why I came to swear off eating farmed Atlantic salmon because of their impact on wild salmon fisheries, which have enough troubles as it is.

I’m increasingly convinced that the larger issue of farmed versus wild salmon poses a similar choice. The withering array of injuries that salmon farms inflict on wild salmon forces a sort of long-range consumer decision. This is not like deciding whether you want free-range versus conventional chicken for tonight’s dinner; that’s a decision with limited echo. To decide that you may as well eat farmed Atlantic tonight, however, is to decide, in a very real sense, that you may as well eat farmed salmon, and farmed salmon only, forever. That just doesn’t sit well with me. For now, anyway, I’ve eaten my last farmed salmon.

Accompanying the story are some great recipes Eating Well gathered or put together — delishy dishes like salmon panzanella, grilled salmon tacos, and something highly photogenic called New World Graviax.

This story was, among other things, an attempt to describe not just the salmon’s status but a sort of metric — the “Is it Okay” Algorithm — by which to sort though the frequently confusing question of what fish are okay to eat. I can’t say I came up with a universal metric, but with luck this offers a bit of guidance. The feedback so far has been quite good.

Quite a few readers have written me asking for guidance to the confusing world of salmon – as in, what kind to eat. As I note in the Eating Well article, the answer to that question depends on a formula whose variables will get weighed differently by different people. But for me it sugars to a decision to eat only wild Pacific salmon from Alaskan fisheries. If you want to keep it simple, that works. More, of course, in the article in the links above.

No sooner was that published than came the news that an important run of Chinook salmon — the Sacramento River run — seems to have vanished. The Times has an excellent story on that.


  1. #1 Pamela
    May 18, 2009

    Dear David, I’ve been eating Wild Salmon(?)2to3 times a week for years …BUT here’s the question…How do I know its really WILD ?? Pamela fromm Cape Cod

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