Hardly any marine “food” has received as much criticism in recent years as the so-called “farmed salmon”. In addition to fatal consequences for the immediate environment due to the discharge of pesticides, antibiotics, fungicides, fecal matter and other toxic substances into the oceans, there are a number of other problems associated with this form of factory farming – the parasitic salmon lice, which also infest the offspring of wild salmon, the entry of genetic material from farmed salmon into natural populations, or the fact that the provision of feed for salmon fattening is often itself a great outrage in terms of overexploitation of nature. Ecologically and also from the nutritional value (keyword fat content and enriched toxins) actually a disaster, the fillets stand raw and smoked nevertheless in rows in each Discounter. Why does salmon, which a few decades ago was still a luxury good and was consumed at most on Christmas or other special occasions, have to be available at all times? This is a dilemma, however, that we can observe in connection with many foods in today’s consumer-driven world: Always available in manifold forms and freely cyclical cycles that would normally regulate an availability!
a small start-up company from Germany
Back to salmon and a small start-up company from Germany that has decided to act differently. The guys from “Safer Salmon” advertise to offer probably the most sustainable salmon of Germany. “Free of drugs and chemicals”. That sounds quite lofty and has already led to uproar among long-established salmon farmers in Norway, as Safer Salmon CEO Markus explains to me on the phone. “We’ve already had to endure the first juristical complaints as a result of our advertising campaigns, because people don’t believe that clean salmon production is possible.”
So what makes Safer Salmon different?
Well, the spirit embodied by the 5-person team is due in no small part to the synergies that the young entrepreneurs’ diverse professional backgrounds bring to sales: From digital business, a specialist in the wine industry, a PhD in sustainability and expertise in environmental technology, a sushi restaurant operator who is also a logistics expert, to the fish connoisseur and, as it were, the importer who gave the start-up access to the premium salmon in the first place, Safer Salmon is thus a smorgasbord of competencies that have the claim of offering an ecologically harmless food of the highest quality. Ethically, the fish should also be treated better than their relatives in cages off the coasts of Europe and the rest of the world. The fish themselves come from Denmark and belong to the company “Atlantic Sapphire”, which operates not only in Denmark (Hvide Sande), but also in its founding country, the USA. Atlantic Sapphire has specialized in making its fish farming and everything it does in the corporate sector as sustainable as possible. The salmon themselves are kept in what is called a “Blue House”, this is a closed circulation system and the fish have no contact with the outside world – this from the egg, to the smolt, to the ready for slaughter animal weighing about 4.5 kg. The Blue House is an exceptional aquaponics facility. Seawater is filtered and purified, and the salmon swim in current pools to accommodate the animals’ urge to move, which also helps them grow more muscular and thus less fat. Strong filtration systems ensure crystal clear, clean water. Overcrowding of animals is avoided, so that each individual has a volume of approximately 1000 liters of water at its disposal. The eggs are incubated in the facility and are sourced from Icelandic and Norwegian production. The animals are free of genetic engineering, the salmon at Atlantic Sapphire are not designed for fast growth and high fat content! To list all the facts that make this principle of aquaculture so special and exemplary at this point would go beyond the scope here. If you want to know more, download the Atlantic Sapphire ESG Report of 2019, the link is at the end of this article. However, it is particularly noteworthy that the energy supply of the plant runs self-sufficiently, even the excrement of the salmon is used by biogas plants to provide energy, the waste water is meticulously filtered, no pesticides, antibiotics or other drugs are used. The salmon lice do not exist in the Blue House. Another challenge is the development of fish feed; in the long term, the aim is to move away from using animal protein as a source of energy. Another challenge is the development of fish feed. In the long term, the people at Atlantic Sapphire would like to work on replacing the animal protein, which is currently still provided from fish, with insect protein. Nevertheless, the fish meal/fish oil that is currently used in the feed is under strict regulations to protect against overfishing. And we are not talking about the flimsy MSC seals, but certifications that are based, for example, on the international Marine Trust and the FAO Code of conduct for responsible fisheries. The same applies to the soy contained in the feed, and other grains that are cultivated without overexploitation of nature. Also the toxic ethoxyquin, an antioxidant, which is contained in many fish feeds, is naturally missing in Atlantic Sapphire. The fillet gets its red color from the natural pigment astaxanthin, which is extracted from the marine microorganism Paracoccus carotinifaciens.
The product itself
The product itself, the salmon, which Safer Salmon offers us in three variants, namely as smoked Sapphire salmon of the highest quality, as “Richard the Red” the premium product, cold-smoked and refined with redwood, and now also fresh salmon fillet in excellent sashimi quality is truly incomparable when it comes to a farmed salmon fillet. Even visually, it is quite different from all other farmed products in terms of fat content and texture. A fine grain and extremely low fat characterize the salmon. In terms of taste, it is also in a league of its own. Not a bit tranquil, the fillet melts delicately and gently to the delight of the palate.
All the culinarians and restaurateurs in our area who have tasted Safer Salmon so far have been delighted with the quality of the fish. Also the nutritions are worth a closer look: Rich in omega-3 acids, low on fat and providing plenty of vitamins and proteins, it seems that farmed Salmon has once again become a healthy food source and diet.
So far, Safer Salmon only ships the salmon within Germany. Ordered today (online or by phone), it will arrive at your home quickly and freshly chilled on ice. In terms of price, Safer Salmon naturally ranks somewhat higher than the fillets that are on the shelves at discount stores, so that you pay €7.20 for 100 g of premium smoked salmon and €8.70 for the refined fillet. This is however quite justified and as already mentioned at the beginning, I see it in such a way that the salmon should be regarded as a luxury article, which one does not have to consume evenly weekly. Of course, critics will find fault with Atlantic Sapphire’s system: “Factory farming remains factory farming, fish must swim freely in the sea” and so on. But if you want to act consciously and keep in mind that there are forms of food production that are more sustainable than others, then there is every reason to follow this path. And the king of the salmonids, namely the wild Salmo salar, will certainly thank us for it.