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Welcome to the Cooking with C.C. Blog. I will be discussing all things food and travel related. Be sure to join me for information from recipes, cookbooks, restaurants and places to visit. I look forward to hearing from you!

Shopping for sustainable seafood

I've laid out information on both wild and farmed salmon.  There are many other issues that confront healthy populations of wild salmon.  Besides the effects of farmed salmon in the vicinity of spawning grounds, farming also can create problems for the salmon.  Salmon require very specific riverbeds and water flow for spawning and the growth of the new salmon.  Sediment runoff, diverted waterflows and pesticides used on farms can adversely affect the salmon population.  The dams on the rivers have created an obstacle for spawning salmon to swim upsteam and the small fry to swim downstream.  The question comes up about how we as consumers should vote with our dollars as we purchase our seafood.  Most harvests are carefully controlled.  The Pacific Salmon is managed by scientists setting an allowable catch level based on the "biomass" or total amount of that type of fish in the oceans.  Catch levels are set well below the number of fish that can be sustainably caught.  The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute has a lot of great information if you want more about catch levels (  Because the population is well managed, any purchase of wild Pacific Salmon is by definition sustainable.  For many of us,…

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Farmed Salmon – is it really a “natural” product

Salmon farms provide much of the salmon in the market today.  This is generally the Atlantic Salmon which is a completely different fish from the Pacific salmon in the last post.  The farm raised salmon market is dominated by 4 large companies with a combined market share of about 75%. Farms grow salmon in submerged cages about the size of a small house which will contain thousands of fish.  Some of them so crowded the fish can barely swim. There are a number of issues created by salmon farming - many of which adversely affect the wild population.  Because of the salmon needing both freshwater and saltwater, many of these farms are at the estuaries and mouths of large rivers. Pollution: Pollution is one of the key issues with salmon farming.  The first type is organic pollution.  A large farm of 200,000 fish releases waste products that are equal to the untreated sewage of a town of more than 50,000 people.  This decomposition of waste products depletes oxygen in the water.  The extra nutrients from the waste stimulates the growth of marine plants and algae well above natural levels, again depleting oxygen in the water.  The waste sediment settles to…

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The Amazing Life of a Pacific Salmon

I love this time of year!  In the Copper River of Alaska, the King or Chinook Salmon begin their journey home.  We don't know how or why, but an adult spawner heads back to the place they were born.  Once there, they end one cycle and begin another. This graphic shows the lifecycle of a salmon.  The eggs hatch and develop into alevins.  The alevins remain under the gravel for three to four months, living off of the yolk sac. At about 12 weeks, the alevins emerage from the gravel redd to find food for themselves.  Called fry at this stage, they are about an inch long and feed on insects.  They are also nice snacks for larger fish, birds snakes and frogs.  Some species (Pink and Chum) start immediately downstream.  Sockeye will hang around for a few months and Coho and Chinook will stay in the stream for several years. At the next stage, the salmon grown to about two inches long and develop spots and vertical stripes called parr marks and they are called parrs.  As they grow longer, they are called fingerlings. The next stage marks a big change for the salmon.  As they reach the estuaries…

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I recently attended the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) Annual Conference in Portland, Oregon.  I was very excited about this conference because many of the sessions were about seafood.  Seafood is an important part of the economy of the Northwest US (including Alaska) and Canada.  One important point I came away with this year is the importance of sustainable practices in fishing and ecology.  I've heard many times about sustainability, but wrote a lot of it off to environmental extremism.  I'm not sure why this time was different, but I "finally got it..." The other amazing point I realized, or appreciated, is the complex planning that God put into the creation.  What I learned about how the different Pacific salmon interact with the environment and the intricate timing of the lifecycles (I'll write about Salmon in another post). We as consumers have a bigger part to play in protecting these supplies than I realized.  When we spend our dollars on well fished seafood and stay away from the types or farming practices that are harmful, we can affect the economies and future of these fish. I will post more information about selections we should make in the grocery store…

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