Too Good To Be True .. Part 2

Healthy Eating

If you have not seen the original post that came before this one – check it out here.

I was planning on putting a few more of these ‘discoveries’ into a post (or do I call them mistakes?)  But this one has been on my mind a lot, so I could not help but get something down in writing.

I am a coach and as such, I try to follow the same advice that I give many clients.  Generally, I am pretty good.  A common problem for busy clients is getting caught out without food, being hungry, and then making poor decisions.  It happens to everyone – and it most definitely happens to me too.

A strategy I have always used (and there are many more) is to have at least some food pre-prepared so that at least a couple of meals per day will be of optimal quality.  Since Suzanne is under a lot more work stress than me too – I try to prepare at least a lunch for her most days.

It will be of no surprise to anyone that knows us, that the meal must have protein.  There must be some high quality fats and at least some carbohydrates too.  We don’t generally subscribe to missing out whole food groups unless for a very specific reason and then (normally) only for a short time.  For a staple meal – we want all 3 of the macro nutrients.

It needs to be convenient, easily stored, safe to eat after several days in the fridge, tasty, not particularly messy or smelly (since it is often eaten in a shared space) and a muppet like me needs to be able to prepare it.  Cooking is neither a passion nor a forte for me: please forgive me for not being as gastronomically talented as some of you.

A solution I have settled on recently is: fish cakes.  Salmon, potato, egg, walnuts, jalapeno’s, gluten free flour, parmesan, herbs, and maybe some peas too – you get the idea.  The come in roughly at 400 kcal a cake and tick all of the boxes.  Well, they did …

It is what you don’t see that is the problem!

In theory I love salmon.  Plenty of anti-inflammatory fats – being rich in Omega 3 rather than Omega 6.  A great and near complete serving of protein that I believe is superior to anything you get from grains or vegetables – I really like my proteins to come from animal sources.  And it tastes good too.

But it was only recently that I noticed ALL of the fresh salmon available to me where I live in Sydney, was farmed.  I really didn’t know that.

At $35-$40 a kg from a fish monger, I really did think I was getting wild caught fish.

I avoid propagating the really extreme views about mass produced foods that make us question everything that we eat – but I do eat organic as often as I can or if it is not possible or not affordable, I choose animals that have been allowed to pasture and fed mainly on a natural diet (e.g. grass for cows).

I want to know that animals are reasonably well treated but I am aware nothing is perfect – so I will choose what I see as the least cruel option when I can.

Now, without going into the somewhat murky waters of what could be problematic with farmed fish, suffice it to say that I feel the process and resulting poor quality of the meat is actually even worse with fish than it is for land animals.

Generally, people don’t care about the wellbeing of fish to the same degree that they care about chickens or cows.  When consumers do not care – businesses take liberties.

As such, I suspect that the water they are in, the food they are fed, and the medical products they are given, make farmed fish (of all types) much poorer in quality than naturally caught alternatives.  Here are a few things that I think are generally considered to be true:

  1. Feeding salmon on grains and not exclusively on their natural diet will reduce the omega 3 fats (we want more of those) and increase the amount of inflammatory omega 6 fats (which we actually wanted less off);
  2. A farmed salmon will be given ‘supplements’ in the feed to enhance the colour of the flesh so we feel more inclined to buy it because the average person would walk away from the ‘true’ colour of the fish without this supplement;
  3. Farmed salmon will be treated either in the food or the water for lice and other parasites. There were warnings about how this may affect humans and different governments around the world offer varying advice – though many talk of limiting the consumption of farmed salmon, just in case!

Yep.  Sorry to say but ‘fresh’ salmon from my fish monger and supermarket was Too Good To Be True.

I am not well enough informed to be sure about the negative impact of farming on eco systems or if there are ‘less worse’ chemical remedies for the fish used by some farmers.  Given that I just don’t know – I really can’t recommend eating salmon every day as we had been doing.

That is .. unless you know the following.

Alaskan salmon is always wild caught and never farmed.  You cannot farm salmon in Alaskan waters and any salmon from that region is awesome.

Even more surprising is that tinned salmon from Alaskan sources is readily available in supermarkets and comes in at at least half the price.  You can choose pink or red – both are equally good.  Red is a little more flavoursome and pink a little more delicate, though cheaper.

You already know I am not a foodie – so for me function is the priority.  Tinned, alaskan salmon that is by definition natural and wild caught, is the perfect replacement in my fish cakes for the far inferior ‘fresh’ and expensive fillets I was buying from my fishmonger and supermarket.  Less contamination, more good fats, and less cruel – tinned salmon is a food I can safely eat every day.

For once, the ‘best’ food option is not the most expensive or the most exclusive.