Purchasing Sustainable Salmon

Seafood is the world’s most traded food commodity, and salmon is the most-traded fish, accounting for about 20% of seafood trade as of 2016. Due to its immense demand, the salmon industry is riddled with problems, from environmental hazards to workers rights violations. Yet there is still high-quality, responsibly harvested salmon to be enjoyed – you just have to know what to look for. 

At Kimberton Whole Foods, we only work with suppliers who offer superior, sustainable salmon. You’ll find fresh and frozen salmon in our stores, supplied by both farmed and wild sources, depending on the season. Our wild-caught frozen Alaskan Salmon is caught by local Pennsylvania fishermen, packed in ice, and shipped to the east coast. For our fresh salmon and other varieties of seafood, we source from Samuels Seafood, a Philadelphia-based supplier. We source brands that adhere to the environmental practices as established by the Marine Stewardship Council, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch

Salmon thesomegirl getty images

Salmon Basics:

When it comes to purchasing salmon, you have lots of choices. Frozen or fresh? Wild or farmed? Sockeye or Coho? And did you know that Atlantic salmon refers to a species, not necessarily where the fish are harvested from? We’ll be sharing everything you need to know to shop with confidence. First, let’s start with the types, or species, of salmon: 

  • Atlantic – all commercially available Atlantic salmon is farmed, which means it is controlled for flavor and color
  • Sockeye, or Red – deep red-orange flesh, rich flavor
  • Coho – bright red flesh, delicate texture
  • King, or Chinook – high fat content, rich flavor
  • Pink & Chum  – both are light to medium-colored, low in fat, and are often sold canned

In Our Stores:

The majority of our fresh salmon comes from True North Seafood, which is Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certified. This certification includes regulations focused on traceability and preventing toxin exposure. Theirs is farmed Atlantic Salmon, raised in the waters of Maine and the east coast of Canada. The fish are fed pellets made from non-GMO sources, with no dyes or growth hormones added. Underwater cameras monitor the health of the fish to prevent overfeeding. True North Salmon follows a three-bay system, which breaks the cycle of diseases or parasites.

Salmon Kimberton Whole Foods

In our freezer section, you’ll find frozen salmon fillets, portions, and burgers from locally-based Wild for Salmon. They offer wild-caught Coho and Sockeye salmon. They explain, “Seafood freezes exceptionally well as nutrients found abundantly in fish such as protein, essential minerals and vitamins A and D are unaffected by the freezing process. As soon as the fish is caught it starts the timer on its dwindling quality, the best way to capture all of its freshness is to flash freeze it shortly after it is caught.” Sustainability is important to owners, Steve & Jenn, and they are proud to fish the waters of Bristol Bay, where there is strict enforcement of proper escapement, in order to ensure a sufficient salmon population year after year.

We also offer frozen wild-caught Alaskan Sockeye salmon from Friedman Family Fisheries based in Baltimore, MD. Our frozen options are convenient and easy to cook with – simply thaw under refrigeration or in water (still in its packaging). View instructions here.

We’re also proud to offer delicious, sustainable smoked salmon options, both wild and farmed, including Blue Hill Bay Coho & Sockeye, Wild for Salmon Sockeye, and Regal King Salmon. 

On our grocery shelves you’ll find Safe Catch wild Pacific pink salmon, as well as Wild for Salmon canned Alaskan sockeye salmon.

Why Offer Farmed Salmon?

Because wild salmon is a seasonal product, harvested between the months of May and September, offering fresh (not previously frozen) wild salmon would not be possible for most of the year. Using farmed salmon allows us to meet consumer demand all year long. In addition, the demand for salmon products is so high that over-harvesting of wild salmon is a real concern. By offering customers responsibly farmed salmon, we can help prevent this. Since wild salmon is a great deal more expensive than farmed salmon, we use farmed salmon in our grab-and-go foods, to keep prices reasonable for our customers.

There are other benefits of responsibly farmed salmon. For instance, the controlled setting allows for careful testing, management of stress to the fish, and parasite prevention. Carefully managed diets for the fish also results in a consistent, delicious, high-quality product. Salmon are farmed in areas around the world where they were once harvested in the wild, so they are living in their natural habitat. 

Shop Smart

Look for salmon and other seafood that carries one of the certifications mentioned above, and buy from retailers who are committed to offering only sustainable options. As FishWise points out, “suspiciously low prices can reek of practices that exploit human rights and leave a devastating impact on the environment”. Read their suggestions for how consumers can advocate for responsible seafood

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