A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of speaking with Shirley, the president of Pure Alaska Salmon Co. She comes from a long line of salmon fishermen (and women, of course) and cares deeply for the quality of the food that she eats and for the environmental implications of those choices. I had a few ideas for our interview and asked the What’s Cooking community on Facebook to chime in. Their questions were awesome – and Shirley was up for the challenge…She is even going to give one of you a case of canned salmon (details are below).
What’s Your Take on Wild vs. Farmed Salmon
Salmon are an athletic, traveling fish. They are not suited to fish farming or being confined in pens. Farmed salmon was an experiment that was done without adequate testing. They put salmon pens in prime wild salmon habitat. Imagine – there are thousands of salmon in pens, not migrating as nature intended. Their untreated poop sinks to the bottom of the ocean, fouling prime habitat. The flesh of farmed salmon is dyed to replicate the distinctive salmon color associated with wild salmon. Farmed salmon do not get the benefit of a naturally foraged diet, but must consume what is fed to them from bags. It is little different than raising commercial chickens. Wild salmon, especially in Alaska, are abundant. It is illegal to farm fish in Alaska. Perhaps another species of fish would be more suited to confinement or a sedentary lifestyle – and can be farmed in tanks on land, where they can’t cause any harm to the ocean or other fish.
What fishing methods to you use to catch salmon…and is it safe for other wildlife?
The Alaskan seafood industry is very tightly regulated, and as a consequence, it is very sustainable. We help to manage fish populations and maintain a healthy ecosystem.
We use Purse Seining as our method of catching salmon. It’s basically a net that circles around a school of fish and is then drawn together, like a purse. The fish are then brought on board and are then stored in cold water tanks on our ship. The salmon are swimming together in a school, so we hardly ever catch any other varieties of fish, and because we don’t drag our nets, we almost never catch any other types of animals.
Is there a fishing season?
Salmon are driven by a biological clock, and between mid-May and the early part of September, are moving towards their natal stream to spawn. Fishermen rely on tradition, experience and their understanding of the tides to locate schools of salmon to catch. Limits on salmon fishing ensure that enough salmon are able to reproduce to keep the populations healthy. By catching the fish that we do, we ensure that there is not excess oxygen depletion in the streams and optimize the streams so the newly hatched salmon to survive.
Is there BPA in your cans?
There is no BPA in the can, but there is currently BPA in the lid. We are phasing it out this year, and by the 2012 canning season, none of the can lids will contain BPA.
Why is canned salmon cheaper than frozen fillets?
Frozen fillets require a lot of energy to maintain (the freezing, frozen transport and frozen storage in the stores), but canned salmon has a very long shelf life. It can be easily stored in a warehouse if necessary. Canned salmon has a shelf life of 6 years from the date of processing.
What’s up with the bones and skin?
Currently, our canned fish contains bones and skin. The processing plant cuts the fish into steaks, which it puts into the cans. They are then pressure cooked, right inside the can. The bones and skin contribute nearly half of the omega-3 fatty acids in the fish. We recommend simply mashing up the skin and bones with the back of a fork, and serving it all together. We have served it like this, in salads, for example, to thousands of people at trade shows, and they don’t even notice. We plan to offer a boneless and skinless fillet in the future, but it will contain 1/2 less of the beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. Plus, the bones lend a lot of calcium as well.
Other health benefits of canned salmon?
There are 5 times the omega-3 fatty acids as conventional grocery store type chunk light tuna. There is no concern of mercury contamination with our wild caught Alaskan Salmon, so nursing and pregnant mothers can eat it as much as they’d like without any concern.
We can go to all the sierra club meetings you want – but shopping for food is where the rubber meets the road. ~ Shirley, President of Pure Alaska Salmon Co.
How would you like to win a case of canned Alaskan Salmon?
- This giveaway is open to USA residents only and will run until Friday June 17 at 11:59 p.m.
- Winner will be generated via a random number generator website. Winner will be notified via the contact email provided on the comment contact form.
- Winner(s) will have until 6/20/11 to claim their Salmon or I will choose another winner.
- Winner will receive one case of Canned Alaskan Salmon from Pure Alaska Seafood Co.
How to Win:
To be entered to win, leave a comment below sharing if you have ever used canned salmon and how you prepared it. If you have never tried canned salmon, please share what is appealing about it to you.
For additional entries, please leave comments below letting us know you did each of the following (we will check!):
- Subscribe to the What’s Cooking with Kids monthly newsletter (in the header of my website)
- Join the What’s Cooking with Kids community on Facebook. If you are already a member, please just let me know in the comments below.
- Like Pure Alaska Salmon Co. on Facebook
- Follow @whatscooking on Twitter
- Tweet this statement:
I just entered to win a case of Pure Alaska Salmon with @whatscooking. Enter here: http://su.pr/7ncYni
Pure Alaska Salmon Co. sent me two cases of canned salmon to use with my students and my family. We loved the salmon and wanted to share it with you – we were not compensated in any way to do this post or giveaway.