Trader Joe's Wild Salmon

by Amylee Amos MS, RDN

Chances are, you’ve heard about the benefits of salmon. At the Amos Institute, it’s part of our recommended list of SMASH fish (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and herring), which are the fish rich in the anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids, and low in mercury. Salmon has extensive benefits that range from the cellular to tissue to organ to whole system levels. At the smallest cellular level, the omega 3 fatty acids found in salmon support healthy cellular membranes. Looking on a more macro scale, fish such as salmon are a major part of the mediterranean diet, which is the nutrition pattern that best supports healthspan and longevity. The point is, there are so many reasons to include salmon into your nutrition regimen.

The issue is, the health benefits of salmon only apply to wild caught salmon. Much of the salmon available to us at the grocery store is farmed. Wild caught salmon is just what it sounds like: salmon that is caught in its wild, natural environment. Farmed salmon, on the other hand, comes from fish farms, where fish are raised in huge quantities for human consumption. The problem lies in the incredibly high amounts of toxins found in farmed salmon, which not only negate the benefits of salmon, but also contribute to our toxic body burden. Farmed salmon is high in contaminants such as PCBs, dioxins, and PBDEs, among other endocrine disrupting toxins (1,2,3). The research connecting our body’s toxic burden to the chronic diseases of aging continues to flourish.

All that being said, it’s important to only consume wild caught salmon to avoid doing more damage to our bodies than good. At the Amos Institute, we’re always on the lookout for wild caught fish options, and recently one of our board members was browsing through his local Trader Joe’s when he came across several options for salmon in the frozen fish section. Among others, he found two that peaked his interest because of the word ‘wild’:  Trader Joe’s Wild Alaska Sockeye Salmon Fillets and Natural Wild Salmon Silver Coho Salmon Portions. Interested, and understanding of the confusion behind labeling, he asked an employee if either of these options was wild-caught, since while both used the word ‘wild’ neither specified ‘wild caught’. The employee got the manager involved, who looked up the two types of salmon in their system, though he determined that still neither specified wild-caught. The manager was kind enough to point us in the direction of the Trader Joe’s corporate office who we contacted regarding the wild caught conundrum.

I am pleased to report that the Trader Joe’s corporate office got right back to us and definitively told us that both the Wild Alaska Sockeye Salmon fillets and Natural Wild Salmon Silver Coho Salmon Portions from Trader Joe’s are indeed wild caught. I should also mention that they are incredibly reasonably priced compared to most wild caught salmon, making healthy nutrition choices a more affordable option for the smart and savvy consumer.

Why is this news, you might ask? Well, for one, labeling matters. If you aren’t sure if an item is exactly what you think it is, ask! If you don’t get an answer, keep digging until you find out, because you are your own health advocate. The other reason we wanted to share this story is to give a big shout out to Trader Joe’s for providing a cost effective wild caught salmon choice and for their incredible customer service. It’s for reasons like this that we at the Amos Institute recommend lots of great Trader Joe’s products!