Is the trout wild?
This is one of the most commonly asked questions during dinnertime at Saul’s. It’s a well-meant question coming from conscious eaters.
But is “Wild?” always the question to be asking?
Monterey Bay Aquarium has put together a Best of the Best list, and guess what is on it? A fish we serve near-nightly. Farmed Rainbow Trout.
Why? It’s a long story, but in the case of U.S.-raised freshwater trout, the difference comes down to a mostly vegetarian diet, efficient feed conversion ratios, and closed system ponds.
At the top of the sustainability list are usually catfish, trout, tilapia, Arctic char, and barramundi. In the U.S. these species are raised in inland ponds or completely closed above ground systems. The risk of escapement for these operations is effectively zero. And, in general, these fish are efficient in converting feed with little to no protein into protein on our plates.
It’s actually illegal to sell wild rainbow trout commercially, even.So this is definitely a Wild vs. Farmed story, rather than simply a Wild is Better story.
By the way, all of our fish is provided by Monterey Fish Market founder Paul Johnson, the seafood leader who wrote Fish Forever: The Definitive Guide to Understanding, Selecting, and Preparing Healthy, Delicious, and Environmentally Sustainable Seafood
Our trout is from Idaho Trout Company, via the Monterey Fish Market.
In our era of overfishing, the majority of the oceans’ fisheries on the brink of collapse, and wild populations facing extinction, “Wild” gets complicated.
To read more about how Farmed is Often Better, check out Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Super Green List: Good for You, Good for the Oceans. Farmed Freshwater Coho Salmon and Farmed Oysters are on the list. (Though shellfish is one of the most sustainable seafoods around, it isn’t coming to Saul’s anytime soon, farmed or otherwise. But Kosher vs. Kosher Style vs. Secular Jewish Eatery vs. . . . is a whole other unresolved story).
For a comprehensive directory of sustainable and unsustainable seafood, visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Guide.