Thursday, July 7, 2011

Salmon vs. Salmon at the Farmers' Market in Joseph

Cherries and strawberries have arrived, garlic scapes (the green tops) were the subject of a great presentation last Saturday and now . . .

Salmon vs. Salmon! It's wild native salmon pitted against farm-raised salmon – which should you look for?

Mary Edwards and Mellie Pullman will answer the question this Saturday, July 9, at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the Slow Food Wallowa County booth at the market in Joseph. Come and join us. Here's the news release we sent to local media outlets:

Farm-raised salmon? A no-no for environmental, culinary reasons, 
says Joseph expert

JOSEPH – Scrutinize that seemingly good-looking salmon fillet at your grocery store. If the label says it was farm raised, buy something else.

That's the suggestion of Mary Edwards of Joseph, an expert who will advise on buying salmon at the Wallowa County Farmers' Market in Joseph on Saturday, July 9.

Edwards, a Nez Perce Fisheries research biologist who studies Pacific Northwest salmon, and Mellie Pullman, a Portland State University food chain authority who also knows her salmon, will speak at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the market, Main and Joseph streets in downtown Joseph.

Wild Pacific salmon are preferable for flavor and because of the environmental damage caused by salmon farming, according to Edwards.

"Fish farms are detrimental to native fish and the environment," she said. "Most of the farmed fish are Atlantic salmon because they grow faster. They rear the salmon in net pens. Their concentrated influence is detrimental. Their feces releases ammonia and causes a 'dead zone.' The poor critters that live on the ocean floor are decimated."

Some fish escape and compete with native fish for habitat, she said.

Atlantic salmon naturally have pale flesh, Edwards noted. As a result, the farms feed them a supplement called astaxanthin to mimic the bright pink or red color found in wild fish, she said.

To find fresh salmon, Edwards recommends going fishing or shopping for wild sockeye, chinook and coho salmon, available at least occasionally in chain supermarkets.

Don't be a salmon glutton, however, she suggests, because native salmon stocks have a limit. That's why the Nez Perce tribe and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife work to hatch and release native salmon species.