Posted by: Mahdi Ebrahimi | December 7, 2007

A Fishy Definition of Organic

As one of the busiest of all times for food professionals, the holiday season will make us work hard to put our best spatula forward.

And to keep our competitive edge, we depend on the freshest and healthiest ingredients available to keep our guests coming back for seconds.

But the U.S. National Organic Standards Board recently convened in Washington to consider amending U.S. organic standards to include farmed fish such as salmon and cod. And this proposal, driven by special interests, is not only hard for us to stomach but it’s also leaving a bad taste in the mouths of many of our fellow food professionals around America as well.

When the board makes its final decision, perhaps within a couple of months, it should consider the view from within the kitchen.

Wearing the right hat doesn’t make you a chef. It takes years of training and education to master the skills and meet the standards expected at a major restaurant today. In the same way, just changing the rules so that farmed salmon and other carnivorous finfish can be labeled organic won’t make that fish any healthier for you or better for the environment.

The word “organic” often evokes images of a food that is natural, healthy, wholesome and clean — a product that is good for you, your family and the environment. Yet, the process of industrial salmon aquaculture, is in reality, anything but.

Unlike their wild cousins, farmed salmon spend most of their adult life in floating net pens with thousands of other fish. In the same waters year round, these large aquaculture facilities upset the delicate balance of nature.



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