I am trying to incorporate more fish into my diet. I know that wild caught is best, but upon researching farm raised salmon, I found that they feed them pellets with red yeast to give the meat that classic pink salmon color. What do paleo dieters think of that???
See this previous Paleohacks discussion for the many other reasons to avoid farmed salmon--which seem much more important to me than the use of colorants:
Your question seems to ask only about the use of colorant. I think this calls for a visual:
Personally, I consider it a fraud designed to deceive the consumer. People have begun to receive the message that they should choose vegetables and fruits with a lot of color, and many people know that egg yolks from pastured chickens, and butter from pastured cows often have deeper color. The use of colorants cynically capitalizes on this idea, implying that the deeply pink/orange flesh means it's more nutritious.
Regardless of any health risks of the colorants, I don't choose to participate in that fraud whenever I can avoid it, particularly since the other reasons to avoid farmed salmon are so compelling.
I realize wild salmon might cost more. For those on a tight budget, canned Pacific salmon is usually wild, and can be quite affordable. It's possibly more environmentally friendly as well, since it's preserved closer to where it's caught and doesn't require refrigerated shipping, etc. Canned salmon often comes with bones, which are nutritious, and the bones in canned salmon are very easy to eat, since they just crumble and can be mixed right into what you're making.
Now as for the hazards of canning.....
Farmed fish makes no sense to me. The whole healthy aspect of fish is that they eat the green algae that they then convert to omega 3s that we eat and it's good for us. Feeding them grains and soy in a farmed environment seems like it would just create the exact same problems as grain fed beef has.
I think that farm raised salmon is terrible on so many levels. I'm going to start by saying that there are some on-shore contained systems that do not have many of the issues that I am going to discuss below, so if you must have farmed salmon that would be the only way to do it.
Open net pen salmon farming is destroying the local native salmon stocks on the West Coast of North America. The farming causes a total destruction of the sea bed directly below and adjacent to the farming site. There is also much research supporting that the farms are introducting viruses to the local stocks that were previously oly found in Atlantic Salmon species. The net pens are also breeding ground for sea lice which are no problem for adult salmon, but since most net pens are close to shore where juveniles (smolts) hang out, they are suffocating the juvenile salmon and wiping out whole generations of local stocks.
Support fishermen, not salmon farmers
Atlantic farmed salmon is an environmental/oceanographic disaster. I'd rather eat frozen wild Pacific salmon than fresh Atlantic farmed any day of the week, regardless of what they're fed.
The canthaxanthin and astaxanthin for "color finishing" of salmon are sometimes synthetically-derived, including "lucantin pink" from BASF and "carophyll pink" from Roche.
I will only eat wild-caught salmon, preferably the stuff my family catches. ;-)
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