Wednesday, July 30, 2003

The Essence of Salmon

I eat salmon. I wouldn't go so far as to say I love salmon, but a soy sauce or balsamic marinated salmon sure is tasty. I have always thought of salmon being fished from the wild rivers of the Pacific Northwest. As a child, living in Port Orchard, WA, salmon was a specialty food in our house, exotic to my finicky taste buds. But I always understood salmon to be the pale pink fish unique in color and taste.

Now, almost twenty years later, I find that most of the salmon I've been consuming since my childhood days in Washington have been Atlantic farmed salmon with color added. Color added!? How can salmon possibly be salmon if it isn't pink? If it isn't pink, it's simply another white fish with a taste similar to salmon. The essence of salmon is its color. It is ontologically necessary for a salmon to be salmon colored. They even have a crayon named after them! The question is, why is farm raised salmon NOT naturally pink? Is there something in the process of swimming up and down streams that causes the flesh to turn and remain pink?

Perhaps it's stress. Perhaps farm raised salmon know intuitively that they should be swimming up and down the river and when they can't do it, it causes them stress and they fail to produce their signature color. If humans can lose their hair because of stress, then salmon can lose their color due to stress. And to top it off, the newest report on farm raised salmon says this type of salmon can have high cancer causing levels of PCB's. Maybe I should eat more halibut.

UPDATE: The answer to how farm raised salmon get their signature color.
Today is the debut of Heliotrope.