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October 5th, 2005 Adrian Chen | News Stories
 

SALMON GONE WILD

WW's consumer report finds (drum roll, please) local stores telling the truth in selling wild salmon.

     
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IMAGE: CHAD CROWE
Living in the heart of salmon country, Portlanders take their fish seriously.

So our interest was piqued when The New York Times published a story finding six of eight New York City stores it examined were selling farmed salmon as wild.

Were local grocers so bold as to pull a similar bait-and-switch in Portland? Would they risk foodies taking to the streets if salmon sold at "wild" prices-two to three times that of farmed-turned out to be not so wild after all?

WW decided to find out.

This reporter spent the day traipsing around the city and buying samples of salmon marked "wild" at 10 local grocery stores (see list at right). Since farmed salmon is usually dyed to match, it's impossible to tell wild from farmed visually, so the samples were packed in ice and hand-delivered to the Oregon State University seafood lab in Astoria for testing.

There, lab director Michael Morrissey measured the levels of two chemicals present in the samples, linoleic and oleic fatty acids, to confirm their wild or farmed origin.

Farmed fish are fed a diet containing plant oils rich in linoleic and oleic fatty acids, while wild salmon feed mostly on krill and shrimp that have smaller amounts of those chemicals. Thus, elevated levels of linoleic and oleic acids are good indications that a fish was farm-raised.

After dropping some science on the fish, Morrissey delivered the news: As far as he could tell, all the fish that had been sold as "wild" actually were.

The 10 samples marketed as wild all showed a similar level of linoleic and oleic acids, while two farmed samples used as controls contained about 1.5 times the oleic and eight times the linoleic acids.

Eat hearty.

1) Safeway, 1010 SW Jefferson St.
2) Albertson's, 1350 NE 122nd Ave.
3) Fred Meyer, 100 NW 20th Place
4) Wild Oats, 3535 NE 15th Ave.
5) Safeway, 3940 SE Powell Blvd.
6) QFC, 1835 NE 33rd Ave.
7) Zupan's, 3301 SE Belmont St.
8) Whole Foods, 1210 NW Couch St.
9) New Seasons, 1954 SE Division St.
10) Strohecker's Market, 2855 SW Patton Road

 
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