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Help with a project: Farm raised seafood vs wild caught - your thoughts.

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  • Help with a project: Farm raised seafood vs wild caught - your thoughts.

    Ok foodies and other folks. I have a few questions for you. I am currently working on my PhD studying fish nutirtion and physiology in the aquaculture setting. My research (as well as most of the research in my lab) involves trying to develop new feeds and feeding strategies for aquaulture that will not only result in good growth and performance for the fish but in a quality product for the consumer. At the same time we are trying to reduce reliance on marine feedstuffs and increase the sustainability of the aquacutlure industry (which worldwide produces over half of all seafood consumed by humans). For example, right now I am doing studies on using alternative sources of energy (fat) in rainbow trout diets, coupled with an alternative feeding strategy that will hopefully reduce our reliance on marine derived feedstuffs (fish oil) while still producing a quality fillet for the consumers. Preliminary results have shown that using the right alternative oil source and being selective about when we use the alternative and when we use fish oil, we can still produce a fillet that has either the same amount or slightly more good Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA especially) than if we just used fish oil the whole time. The levels in the fillet of these farm raised fish would be similar to those that are wild caught as well. This same strategy can be applied to pretty much any farm raised fish. We have decided that we need to take a closer look at the economics of this alternative strategy as well as how these farm raised fish might be perceived compared to both traditional farm raised fish and wild fish. I will be creating and conducting a survey that I will be spreading around in the future but before I can do that I was hoping that you might be able to help me by giving me some of your thoughts on this. It may help me to develop some of my questions once I have an idea what people think.

    So what are your thoughts on Farm raised fish vs wild fish?
    Do you prefer one over the other? Why?
    If you are ok with farm raised fish would you be willing to pay more for it if you knew it was sustainablly raised and was also local (like it was harvested shipped to your market live and is still alive in the tanks ready for you to buy it all within a few hours)?
    Would you be willing to pay more for the same fish if they have better nutritional value (IE higher omega-3 content)
    How often do you eat fish?
    Do you view fish as a luxury food, a regular source of protein in the same lines as beef or poultry, "brain food" etc?
    Any other thoughts?

    You dont have to answer all those questions or any of them. Just give me your thoughts and maybe I can help clear some things up for you at the same time (a lot of people are misinformed about farm raised seafood and seafood in general). Hopefully this will help me begin to develop some questions for my survey based on the kinds of things you say.

    Oh and I will say this. At a recent conference of food science educators I served some of my rainbow trout in a blind taste test. The people who participated were convinced that they would be able to tell the difference between the traditional farm raised fish and those I did on the alternative strategy. Not only could most of them NOT tell the difference, most either ended up prefering the alternative fish or felt that both were eqaully good. The same thing happend with hybrid stripped bass when we took them to a culinary school in Chicago.

  • #2
    Re: Help with a project: Farm raised seafood vs wild caught - your thoughts.

    My only thought on it is that if it weren't for farm raised fish, there'd probably be more than a few extinct tasty species right now.
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    • #3
      Re: Help with a project: Farm raised seafood vs wild caught - your thoughts.

      Originally posted by ExileOnDaytonStreet View Post
      My only thought on it is that if it weren't for farm raised fish, there'd probably be more than a few extinct tasty species right now.
      I enjoy farm raised beef, pork, and chicken products. Bring on the farm raised fish!
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      • #4
        Re: Help with a project: Farm raised seafood vs wild caught - your thoughts.

        Definitely prefer wild.
        "This world is your world. Take it easy, but take it." - Woody Guthrie

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        • #5
          Re: Help with a project: Farm raised seafood vs wild caught - your thoughts.

          Originally posted by Carter View Post
          Definitely prefer wild.
          Any reason?

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          • #6
            Re: Help with a project: Farm raised seafood vs wild caught - your thoughts.

            As a Maine boy, heard many tales of farm raised fish. Most of them not good. First off,like factory farms, lots of chemicals used to keep them alive in the pens. Antibiotics, pesticides etc. Not good as far as I'm concerned. All kinds of seafood is farm raised here for awhile Atlantic salmon were huge, they floated these huge pens in the bays in Downeast Maine, lots of diseases, not just for the farm raised fish but for other creatures that happened to live there also. I can remember working at a lobster dock, the guy buys lobsters, sells fuel, bait, gloves to the lobster man, when an old state ferry came in from the pens in Machias bay. Plastic totes of dead salmon, the harbor turned red(blood) when they off loaded the totes. The lobster dealer had an enclosed area where he stored shedder(soft shells) lobsters until winter when they turned into hard shell, he got a better price for them in February. He hated that blood as he wasn't sure what it would do his lobster pound.

            Oh Yeah in the end Sea Lice ended up killing off most of the salmon pens, done gone

            I have a neighbor who raises Oysters in the Bagaduce river, he just got a contract with Carnival cruises lines for 1 million oysters a year. He raises 7 million a year and sells to some of the most expensive Restaurants in the world
            Last edited by walrus; 05-04-2012, 03:27 PM.
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            • #7
              Re: Help with a project: Farm raised seafood vs wild caught - your thoughts.

              Originally posted by walrus View Post
              As a Maine boy, heard many tales of farm raised fish. Most of them not good. First off,like factory farms, lots of chemicals used to keep them alive in the pens. Antibiotics, pesticides etc. Not good as far as I'm concerned. All kinds of seafood is farm raised here for awhile Atlantic salmon were huge, they floated these huge pens in the bays in Downeast Maine, lots of diseases, not just for the farm raised fish but for other creatures that happened to live there also.
              Interesting thing to note here. In the US, the use of antibiotics, pesticides and what not is tightly controlled. And in most cases, they simply are not used. Many of the developed countries that raise fish (US and Europe) have actually found that just being better about the way they stock fish in the pens and being more proactive in watching for disease is better than ever using antibiotics. By seletcing the right location for a pen, stocking the right density being careful on feeding rates etc. we can end up with higher yields than we ever did by using antibiotics. In terms of like waste from the fish, if the pen is placed in the right location it is a very small problem (deep water). If the water is not deep enough some farmers will begin raising mussels nearby which feed by filtering the phytoplankton and algae that may bloom as a result from the increased nitrogen in the area from fish waste. Disease was a major problem in the Atlantic salmon industry in Chile and they paid the price by seeing their industry shrink heavily. Good aquaculturists quickly learn that being proactive and smart in their farm planning and management will mean rarely having to worry about disease.

              Edit: The sea lice thing probably came down to poor management. If they had been more careful they probably never would have had that problem.

              Edit 2: I have a copy of a book that lists the few drugs and therapuetics that are approved for fish (likely a very small number when compared to the number that are approved for terrestrial livestock). All have gone through the normal FDA approval process and have strict useage guidelines for their use and have been tested to be sure that there are no effects on people who may consume a treated fish. Couldn't tell you what is done in other countries (a good reason to by US farm raised fish over stuff from overseas). But it still comes down to us getting better at raising the fish in general to the point where we rarely have to use drugs.
              Last edited by Proud2baLaker; 05-04-2012, 03:41 PM.

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              • #8
                Re: Help with a project: Farm raised seafood vs wild caught - your thoughts.

                Originally posted by Proud2baLaker View Post
                Any reason?
                I just think the flavor and quality of the meat is superior. I try to find stuff that's wild caught in a sustainable manner.
                "This world is your world. Take it easy, but take it." - Woody Guthrie

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                • #9
                  Re: Help with a project: Farm raised seafood vs wild caught - your thoughts.

                  So what are your thoughts on Farm raised fish vs wild fish?
                  I used to work on a fish farm in Maine (Ellsworth area) Farmed fish are fine, as long as you purge them properly.
                  Do you prefer one over the other? Why?
                  If you are ok with farm raised fish would you be willing to pay more for it if you knew it was sustainablly raised and was also local (like it was harvested shipped to your market live and is still alive in the tanks ready for you to buy it all within a few hours)?
                  I, like most everyone else, would buy the cheaper trout in a side by side comparison. Have you ever harvested and shipped live, adult fish? I don't think that is really an option.
                  Would you be willing to pay more for the same fish if they have better nutritional value (IE higher omega-3 content)
                  How often do you eat fish?
                  I eat fish once a week. It's normally Tilapia or HSB.
                  Do you view fish as a luxury food, a regular source of protein in the same lines as beef or poultry, "brain food" etc?
                  I would consider Shrimp or lobster 'luxury food'. Not so much fish.
                  Any other thoughts?

                  ;The farm I worked at raised Atlantic Salmon. We would take the smolts out to the pens and then bring them back when the were big enough to harvest for cleaning. Seals and sea lice were the worst problems. Then the farm was sold and we switched to raising Arctic Char (relative of Brook Trout and Lake Trout) We didn't have to grow them in the sea pens so a lot of problems were eliminated right there. As long as we graded the fish and maintained proper densities we avoided any diseases. Unfortunately the new owners were crooks and the place went bankrupt in a couple of years. The University of Maine bought the property and now uses it for Aquaculture research.
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                  • #10
                    Re: Help with a project: Farm raised seafood vs wild caught - your thoughts.

                    Originally posted by Wol4ine View Post
                    So what are your thoughts on Farm raised fish vs wild fish?
                    I used to work on a fish farm in Maine (Ellsworth area) Farmed fish are fine, as long as you purge them properly.
                    Do you prefer one over the other? Why?
                    If you are ok with farm raised fish would you be willing to pay more for it if you knew it was sustainablly raised and was also local (like it was harvested shipped to your market live and is still alive in the tanks ready for you to buy it all within a few hours)?
                    I, like most everyone else, would buy the cheaper trout in a side by side comparison. Have you ever harvested and shipped live, adult fish? I don't think that is really an option.
                    Would you be willing to pay more for the same fish if they have better nutritional value (IE higher omega-3 content)
                    How often do you eat fish?
                    I eat fish once a week. It's normally Tilapia or HSB.
                    Do you view fish as a luxury food, a regular source of protein in the same lines as beef or poultry, "brain food" etc?
                    I would consider Shrimp or lobster 'luxury food'. Not so much fish.
                    Any other thoughts?

                    ;The farm I worked at raised Atlantic Salmon. We would take the smolts out to the pens and then bring them back when the were big enough to harvest for cleaning. Seals and sea lice were the worst problems. Then the farm was sold and we switched to raising Arctic Char (relative of Brook Trout and Lake Trout) We didn't have to grow them in the sea pens so a lot of problems were eliminated right there. As long as we graded the fish and maintained proper densities we avoided any diseases. Unfortunately the new owners were crooks and the place went bankrupt in a couple of years. The University of Maine bought the property and now uses it for Aquaculture research.
                    Rainbow trout are shipped live to markets quite often. A food size rainbow is only about 1.5 lbs. We ship HSB live to markets in St Louis quite often. I just drove 300 lbs worth of live HSB (thats hybrid striped bass for those that arent down with the lingo) 2 weeks ago. Tilapia, HSB, catfish, largemouth bass, trout and even some carps are all common to see live in markets (especially if the city has a large Asian population). The Chinese love live largemouth bass for example and pay top dollar for it. Live markets are something you only usually see in larger cities though. HSB raised in Illinois are often shipped live to St Louis, Chicago and believe it or not Toronto.

                    Originally posted by Carter View Post
                    I just think the flavor and quality of the meat is superior. I try to find stuff that's wild caught in a sustainable manner.
                    Thats a fairly common answer I hear. To play devil's advocate, I would argue that in a blind tasting most people (at least those who eat fish only occasionally) would never know the difference. Someone who eats several meals a week very well could tell the difference. I am all for sustainable wild caught too. Though for many sustainable wild fish, farms are still important (at least in providing the juveniles to reach adult size in the wild). The problem unfortunately is that at least according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, #s of wild caught fisheries are static at best and many are in decline. We may be able to continue to use them but I would bet that our grandchildren or at least great grandchildren will never get to try some species of wild caught fish. But in the mean time if we are careful with the harvest I'm certainly not against it.

                    (Just a note, I am in no way anti-wild caught. Im just very pro-aquaculture. I eat wild caught fish myself quite a bit simply because in the US we still just dont offer much farm raised fish and most of what we do is imported from countries where I know they dont have the strict guidelines that we have here or in Europe)

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Carter View Post
                      Definitely prefer wild.
                      Same.

                      Living in Alaska it's easier to get wild fish for many types and I think wild fish tastes better. But, again, I live in Alaska so it's a different ball game.
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                      • #12
                        Re: Help with a project: Farm raised seafood vs wild caught - your thoughts.

                        We eat fish just about once a week, usually fish we have caught (northern, yellow perch, blue gills, crappies). I'd love to be able to buy fresh haddock, but fresh haddock in the store where I live is rare. We just have those gross frozen blocks of haddock chunks that come out of China. Overall, when I shop and look at fresh fish in the supermarket, the prices are crazy high, whether they are labelled wild caught or farm raised. I'd have to drop $20.00 to feed a family of 5 with 3 teenagers, so if farm raised fish cosy more then wild caught, count me out. $20.00 buys a lot of pork chops and pieces chicken on the bone.

                        My opinion on farm vs wild is this if I decided to spend the $20.00 on store fish: I'd prefer wild, but I'd buy farm if it were cheaper, as long as it tasted like it was supposed to. If I could buy haddock at $2.50 per pound, I'd be all in on that, provided the flavor was there.
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                        • #13
                          Re: Help with a project: Farm raised seafood vs wild caught - your thoughts.

                          Went to my Nieces birthday party yesterday, my BIL had a fresh wild caught Atlantic Salmon from the Miramichi River(very famous Atlantic Salmon river) in New Brunswick, nothing farmed will ever taste like that. The catch right now is Salmon heading out to sea, soon it will be Salmon headed up river.

                          Fresh haddock is awesome, 4.95 pound on sale, as low as 3 something at the wharf in Portland. Frozen Haddock isn't bad though and I eat it often in the winter but it isn't from China
                          Last edited by walrus; 05-06-2012, 08:06 AM.
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                          • #14
                            Re: Help with a project: Farm raised seafood vs wild caught - your thoughts.

                            Originally posted by Timothy A View Post
                            We eat fish just about once a week, usually fish we have caught (northern, yellow perch, blue gills, crappies). I'd love to be able to buy fresh haddock, but fresh haddock in the store where I live is rare. We just have those gross frozen blocks of haddock chunks that come out of China. Overall, when I shop and look at fresh fish in the supermarket, the prices are crazy high, whether they are labelled wild caught or farm raised. I'd have to drop $20.00 to feed a family of 5 with 3 teenagers, so if farm raised fish cosy more then wild caught, count me out. $20.00 buys a lot of pork chops and pieces chicken on the bone.

                            My opinion on farm vs wild is this if I decided to spend the $20.00 on store fish: I'd prefer wild, but I'd buy farm if it were cheaper, as long as it tasted like it was supposed to. If I could buy haddock at $2.50 per pound, I'd be all in on that, provided the flavor was there.
                            With wild catches either static or in decline with demand for fish overall increasing, its no suprised that wild caught is getting more pricey. With farm raised one of the big issues comes down to feed costs (at least for the fish we like to eat in the US). Fish meal and fish oil is crazy expensive and is still the most common source of protein and energy in fish feeds. We are reducing the amount and using plant based proteins and fats but the price of soy and corn is getting very high too (largely due to the biofuel industry). The catfish industry in the US has shrank quite a bit in the past decade and many blame the rising feed costs. There were some issues with farm management as well but the feed costs thing was the straw that broke the camels back if you will. It was costing catfish farmers $1.00 per lb to raise the fish but processors were only paying them $0.80 per lb. When they were able to make a profit it was quite thin and with the sudden spike in costs for soy and corn (which a lot of catfish feed is derived from) it became difficult for them to make any profit. Many of these farms stopped growing fish and switched to growing soy and corn.

                            Cost of fish is a big issue for me too. Its easy to justify buying the frozen vaccum sealed fillets when they are only a couple bucks each (from China usually...70% of all food fish aquaculture occurs there) but I have found myself avoiding that and trying to source my fish now from the US or Europe if I am buying wild or farmed. Its tough and sometimes I cant buy fish when I may want it but I am also lucky to live close enough to a clean lake that I can catch fish from too.

                            Im sure that fresh, never frozen wild fish that is minimally prepared (ie not marinated heavily or something) could have a distinct flavor compared to fresh non-frozen farm raised fish. But for me persoanlly Ive never really noticed a distinct difference between the two. But I have never tried it in a blind testing...and its always been prepared in some way with seasonings and what not. When we do our tastes tests with the fish we raise, we have to just bake or pan sear them with at most a light salt sprtiz on them. We dont want any seasonsing or what not masking flavor or whatever.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Help with a project: Farm raised seafood vs wild caught - your thoughts.

                              Fish prices have gone crazy, haven't they? One of our nicest markets in Madison is Metcalfe's, although they do run a bit more expensive than the others. This year fresh halibut, which is really tasty, is 27 effin' dollars per pound. From my perspective, they should just leave them in the ocean. Even lake perch are nearly $20 per pound. Not a frequent treat. Most of what we buy is wild caught sockeye salmon when it's on sale for around $10 per pound.
                              "This world is your world. Take it easy, but take it." - Woody Guthrie

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