Swap salmon for a different kettle of fish

30th Jan 20 by Christina O'Sullivan

With so much diet chat focusing on restriction - what if we opened ourselves up to exploration?

Veganuary? Dry January? The chances are some of you have started the year attempting to change your diet. Changing what and how we eat is necessary to tackle the Climate Emergency. The global food system is responsible for up to 30% of Greenhouse Gas Emissions – the single greatest impact we have on the planet.

My beef (pun intended) is not with shifting our diets in a more sustainable direction but instead with the way this is often communicated. So much diet chat focuses on restriction and promotes the idea that certain foods are inherently good while others are inherently bad. When in reality a sustainable diet is a balanced one. The food system is incredibly complicated, so whenever I see a silver bullet solution being touted I indulge in some healthy scepticism.

Enter the ‘super-food’ (this term doesn’t actually mean anything – it is purely a marketing phrase) that is salmon. Salmon is an incredibly popular fish choice in the UK – purchases of salmon have risen by 550% over the last 50 years and a recent survey showed that salmon was voted people’s favourite fish to eat. Salmon is good for us but our dedication to the salmon is a super-food mantra puts pressure on our ocean.

The salmon on your dinner plate is probably farmed, around 60% of the world’s salmon production is farmed, and in Scotland this figure reaches 100%, with the last commercial wild salmon fishery closing in late 2018. Farming salmon at an industrial scale requires large quantities of feed including wild caught fish. The current quantity of wild fish fed to farmed Scottish salmon, 460,000 tonnes, is roughly equivalent to the amount purchased by the entire UK population.

Even worse, research shows that 90% of wild caught fish used to produce feed are edible – what if we ate that fish instead of feeding it to salmon? Last year we worked with Michelin-star chef Merlin Labron-Johnson to explore that idea. Merlin cooked up herring, anchoveta and whiting – see the video below for a taste.

In February, we are asking you to swap salmon for something a bit different – turns out there is plenty more (interesting) fish in the sea.  Sign up here to receive recipes and ideas for what to eat and make sure to tag us and use the hashtag #SalmonSwaps to show us what you cook up.

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