Just as a point and in no way meant to offend.
Many of my friends are actual chefs ( as opposed to what I am...a cook...there is a difference) and I love and respect them enormously. However, I will say that in most of them I see a tendency toward "food snobbery"
2 cases in point.
For the Millennium, we decided tio have a champagne tasting. We eached pitched in an equal amount of money into a pool, then 6 of us were dispatched to buy as much of our designated brand as we could with the funds provided. I was assigned a brand called 'Domaine St. Michelle". My share of the budget allowed me to buy 12 bottles.
On Jan. 1st, we assembled and tasted. Many of those sent shopping were only able to provide 1 bottle for the tasting. Acouple had 3 or 4 bottles. I came back with the most.
In a blind taste test...the "Domaine St. Michelle" was judged to be just under (no exaggeration) the"Dom Perignon" and just above "Moet et Chando" and equal to...you won't believe this...Pierre Jouet.
About 2 years later we had a discussion of the merits of farm raised salmon versus wild. I am an old country boy who pretends to nothing and I told the truth...I can't tell a difference! We decided that a) I might be an idiot or b)maybe the difference was hype.
The test was as follows: I cooked. I took a whole fillet from each type, laid it onto foil, covered them with onjions, sliced lemon and fresh dill and baked at 350 degrees in the foil pouch for 20 minutes. The rest of the crew tasted and tried to guess which was which. The HONEST result...out of 12 participants only one got it right... and he didn't like fish!
Sorry for the tome but the article reminded me.
If we readily accept the fact that most of our food supply comes from commercial farms, then we shouldn't have a problem with aquaculture. It's all about the impact. Such large scale production affects our lives in ways never imagined. Some people are getting rich over farmed Salmon, and some people's livelihoods are negatively impacted. Nevertheless, economics is never a zero sum game. In general, the number who benefit from Salmon farming outweighs the few negatives.
Three obvious things we should think about are:
1) Environmental impact
The long term environmental impact is unknown and won't be known for years to come. Efforts have to be made right now to monitor and predict the long term effects of Salmon aquaculture.
2) Economic impact
Although aquaculture is not a new industry, Salmon aquaculture is. New industry brings new jobs and can directly affect the economic climate in the immediate area. Innovative economic growth and new markets ensures, at least for the time being, a steady growth of jobs. The flipside is that these jobs can leave as fast as they came. Once the industry matures, watch for cost cutting measures to take these jobs elsewhere.
The economic impact doesn't stop there. Demand for Salmon hasn't quite yet reached its peak. Look for restaurant operators to capitalize on its relatively low cost.
3) Quality of life impact
The bottom line is that there are a lot of people who simply enjoy eating Salmon. Twice a week, twice a month, or even once a year, it's a small treat everytime we bite into a piece of nicely prepared Salmon.
I've done blind side-by-side comparisons of Atlantic vs the finest Copper River King grilled, with no seasonings whatsover. The Copper River was visibly more "marbled" and tasted much richer. The difference can be described as more pungent and creamy.
Granted, this is a rather extreme comparison between a mediocre breed and a top-of-the-line one, I still think that there would have to be some huge advances before farmed salmon can be just as good as wild.
As with any animal in close confinement there is more apt to be disease ....placement of the farms matter greatly...breeding amoungst the diseased and wild population is a PROBLEM...there are pro and cons on both sides. I am a strong believer in if you are messing up your environment or endangering the health of other critters...(human or edibles) your not doing a good job....
Chef's Collaborative has a Seafood information booklet as does Slow Food and Monterrey Aquarium.
I have been to alot of fish/seafood lectures in the past few years and it's the same old story... Seems like there were some experiments a few years back and mutant fish escaped into the wild...Australia possibly.
* I don't eat salmon, severe burnout when I was a teenager...so at the most a nibble and possibly a bagel, lox capers, cream cheese and red onions...doctored to the point of little recognition.
So, what did the sponsors contribute to the conference and was there an alternative to the farm fish....sponsors generally want to give a sales pitch without competition .Who is president currently...Annn cooper was a couple of years ago.
They provided salmon for one of the lunches. The chef responsible for devising a recipe and cooking it told me, "I had to marinate the [heck] out of it!" Even so, everyone (at least at my table) said Yech. Well, not that bad, but the salmon itself was clearly not up to our standards.
A few years ago Peter Hoffman (of Savoy restaurant and Chefs Collaborative) did a master class on salmon, with comparative tastings of farmed, wild-caught, FAS (frozen at sea), and (iirc) ivory. The farmed was of course at the bottom of the list; FAS rated quite high, almost as good as the wild. (The ivory was just to give us a real treat. )
Ann Cooper is no longer President, as of this past conference. But to be honest, I can't remember who it is now.
National Chef's Collaborative is hosting a sustainable seafood talk/meal the end of Feb in St. Louis...it will be interesting to see who will come in to speak...The meal will be phenominal ...Kirk Warner of King Louie's does a bang out job. This is more of a fund raiser type then strictly educational....I have no specifics at this time....
I'm going after sponsors for hte markets this year after not being aggressive about $, I have turned down funding that is not in line with the market and it is now time to buy equipment and fund events.....yippy. It's the business that are mass marketing that have abundant marketing monies or Monsanto or Danforth....I won't go there but it would make life easier in the short run.
Oh to be less ethical.