Development in Farmed Salmon Feeding Techniques

While the local wild salmon season opened last week, a South San Francisco company has its eyes trained thousands of miles away: on the farms that produce 70 percent of the salmon eaten globally.

TerraVia has developed a new fish feed based on algae oil called AlgaPrime DHA, and the product may be a potential solution to one of salmon farming’s biggest drawbacks. The majority of salmon farms currently rely on a feed based on wild sardines, anchovies and other forage fish. These supply the omega-3 fatty acids that the salmon, and the humans who eat them, need for health.

But to produce each pound of farmed salmon, more than 1 pound of wild fish is required — and these fish themselves are in decline.


TerraVia is betting the solution is its low-cost, plant-based version of algae feed. The smaller fish that salmon feed on in the wild get their own omega-3s from algae. As Jonathan Wolfson, chief executive officer of TerraVia, said, “We’ve been eating algae oil as long as we’ve been eating fish.”

Algae and certain types of wild fish, along with mother’s milk, are the are the main sources in the diet for Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), one of the crucial types of omega-3s for brain development in infants and normal brain function in adults. Salmon’s high DHA levels is one of the reasons that its popularity has increased threefold since 1980.

In 2011, 1.75 million tons of salmon were produced on farms, while more than 1 million tons were caught in the wild, according to Marine Harvest, a global seafood company. Most salmon are raised in ocean pens in Canada, Scotland, Norway and Chile with feed that’s a mixture of fish oil, fish meal and soy or other plant-based nutrients.

Scale sets product apart

AlgaPrime DHA replaces that fish oil and fish meal. To make it, TerraVia — a former biofuel company that was previously called Solazyme — has partnered with agribusiness company Bunge Limited to produce microalgae in huge fermentation tanks in Brazil. While other companies have produced algae oil with similar methods, it’s the scale and competitive price of the product that sets it apart.

Set in the middle of a sugarcane farm and facility, the microalgae are fed sugar and reproduce rapidly, then dried and pressed into oil.

“That’s what so exciting about this offering,” said Jill Kauffman Johnson, global sustainability director at TerraVia. “What takes years and years in the ocean — fish eating algae and then being eaten by larger fish — we can produce in a matter of days.”

The sugarcane that TerraVia and Bunge use comes from a mill that is certified sustainable by the international nonprofit Bonsucro, which requires that mills meet worker standards set by the International Labour Organization, as well as standards around water and energy use and other environmental issues. But the reliance on sugar for algae production still raises concerns about its sustainability for Dana Perls, a food and technology campaigner at Friends of the Earth in Berkeley.

“We could be creating a similar set of problems to the ones that we are trying to resolve,” said Perls. She notes that sugarcane production in general is associated with deforestation, though TerraVia takes pains to point out its mill is not near Brazil’s rain forest. “It’s shifting the problem from the bottom of the ocean to sugarcane expansion.”

Yet there’s no doubt that the wild forage fish stocks traditionally used to feed salmon are in rapid decline. The Peruvian anchovy fishery that supplies most of the world’s fish oil was closed in 2014 and was further depleted by the recent El Niño. The Pacific sardine fishery was closed last year after its population plunged from more than 1.1 million tons in 2007 to just over 100,000 tons in 2015.

“We’ve kind of systematically drained the ocean of this product,” said Bill Foss, co-owner of the San Francisco seafood company TwoXSea, the restaurant Fish in Sausalito and McFarland Springs trout farm near Mount Lassen. Foss said his farm was among the first to use algae-based fish feed domestically, most recently, from a Kentucky company that uses a process similar to TerraVia’s, but more expensive.


Recommending All Clad Cookware

all clad cookware set
If you are a foodie and wish to get that extra taste in your food, look no further – All Clad Cookware is the right option for you. We have used All Clad Cookware Master Chef MC2 cookware set, and we are really happy with this product. The best part about All Clad cookware is that it is made of top-notch quality material that does not react with the food. We love cooking, but becomes lazy when we have to clean up the utensils. Cleanup is a breeze with this best cookware set.

Hats off to the crew behind this invincible product – with robust construction and attractive design, it is sure to please you. Brushed aluminum alloy in the outer layer adds to its aesthetic appeal. All Clad cookware also gets heated up quickly and evenly, so that you could enjoy food like never before. Make sure that you cook the food in low or medium flame for the best results.

We really appreciate the value that this unique product offers for the money spend. I really love it when All Clad cookware set shines like a sun in our kitchen; it is really great value for money. This product is suitable for an individual or small family. The only downside that we felt with this product is that it is not compatible with induction cooktop. If you could pardon this concern, or if you love cooking on gas tops like us, then you would definitely love this product. If you are the kind of person who would love to be immersed in the kitchen, just go for All Clad cookware. This smart product would never let you down.

One of the Best Cookware Set Brands


Chipotle Peach Salsa

I was looking for the best cookware set brands to handle my basic needs at the kitchen without breaking my bank or stretching myself beyond my budget. I wasn’t much concerned about the fancy brands from reputed manufacturers that would price a set double just because of their name tags when similar models could be available at far lesser prices and serving the same basic purpose. That being said, I wouldn’t mind to have stay-cool handles for ease of grip and multi-ply constructions in my set if those were available within my budget.

After some dedicated online search and discussions with friends and family, I narrowed my search to either the T-Fal E918SC, Cook N Home Non-Stick soft handle, or the Simply Calphalon Nonstick sets. All of them were well within my budget, though each set had their own individual pros and cons. For instance, the Calphalon set was constructed with hard-anodized aluminum and was thus durable and could provide uniform heat. However, there were some complaints that the nonstick surface would wear off after some time and the set could not be washed in dishwashers. The T-Fal set had a unique spot at its center which would brighten up once the ware would get heated, indicating that it was ready for cooking. The set was also dishwasher safe, had extremely durable nonstick coating, and came in 12 pieces that covered most of my cooking needs. The only disadvantages were it did not have stay-cool handles and the saute pans did not have lids. There were also complaints that the set was not that ideal at high temperatures.

The cookware set that I finally decided to purchase was the Cook N Home brand. It came in 15 pieces, had cool, feel soft handles for ease of carrying and the handles were coated with silicon to prevent them from slipping. It was made of heavy gauge aluminum and also came in with tempered glass lids. The only disadvantage was the set wasn’t adequately heat resistant like the other set, but then when I cook something I am normally stationed in front of the oven at all times and can control temperatures whenever required. The best thing was it was well within my budget and so I opted for this set.

I have been using this set for the past couple of years now, and every time I use it I stir up quite a dish, whether that be for parties or when we eat meals at home. I guess this is one of the best cookware set brands in the market today, and I would never hesitate to recommend it to anyone whoever is wanting to buy a new set and is willing to listen to my advice!

The Best Carving Knives

slicing knife
When it comes to slicing thin cuts of meat, including hams, poultry, hams and other large cooked meats, acquiring a quality set of carving knives is the utmost priority. Carving knives are much thinner than chef’s knives, enabling them to carve thinner slices of meat.

Shopping for the best carving knife can be tricky if you have no experience there. Most carving knives out there come in sets, with the knife accompanied by a fork. The fork is as paramount as the knife itself, ensuring that the meat is smoothly cut with minimal rolling about on the board. Below is a brief description of some of the best carving knife sets around:

The Kai Shun
This is probably the best carving knife set out there. It’s inspired of course by the centuries-old Samurai sword-forging technique. It is of unrivaled sharpness and ensures minimal wastage.

The Mercer culinary genesis 8-inch carving knife
Made of stainless German steel, comfortable with a secure grip. It is one of the best carving knife out there you can buy. It is ideal for cutting roasted meat and poultry with ease.

Black and Decker EK700 9-inch electric carving knife
If you’re looking for a knife that slices both tough and soft meats alike, you should probably go for this one. This one is ideal since the blades can be conveniently detached to facilitate washing. It’s affordable, has a safety lock that prevents it from starting accidentally, is made of stainless steel and is dishwasher safe. The only downside is that this carving knife is cordless.

Robert Welch
A renowned chef himself, this carving knife set is named after him. It has a long-curved blade and is ideal for slicing those delicate slices of meat in a single stroke.

The Sabatier Professional 2 Piece Carving Knife
This is another ideal carving knife out there. This design is more than 150 years old! This blade is also difficult to blunt, but unbelievably easy to sharpen.

Tips on Caring For Your Kitchen Knives

kitchen knife
Keep your blade honed and sharpened

Culinary students learn on their very first day: A dull knife is a dangerous knife, because the extra force required to cut foods can mean the knife could slip and cut you. Honing and sharpening your kitchen knife regularly will keep it safe and efficient to use. First, know the difference between honing and sharpening: Honing straightens out the microscopic “teeth” that comprise the very edge of the teeth, which bend to one side as the knife is used over time, while sharpening actually abrades ultra-fine particles from the metal blade to recreate a blade.

A honing steel can help realign the blade to keep it in optimal cutting condition, while a knife sharpener will restore the blade to like-new sharpness. Sharpeners are available in a handheld rod, or in manual or electric versions where a knife is passed through a slot so that you’re abrading the edge and just the right angle.


Sharpen Your Knife

A knife that is not sharp is dangerous. It can slip off the food you’re cutting and easily cut your fingers instead. A steel should be part of your knife collection. This long, round object sharpens knives by straightening out the edge. Take a look at using a steel to see how to correctly sharpen your knives on a steel. Hold the knife in your dominant hand and the steel in the other, with the steel point pressed into a solid waist-high surface. Hold the knife base at the top of the steel at a 20 degree angle. Slowly draw the knife down the length of the steel, pulling the knife back so the entire blade, from base to tip, moves against the steel, as if you were slicing off pieces of the steel. Repeat on the other side. Do this five or six times, then rinse the knife off and dry immediately. Make sure you sharpen each side the same number of times to retain the knife’s balance.

Wash your knife properly

It’s not hard to do. Just use a sponge or dishcloth and warm, soapy water to wash the blade and the handle. Rinse it afterwards with warm water and immediately dry the knife with a dry dishtowel.


Wild Farmed Fish?

mt cook

I’m finding it hard to concentrate. I’m in the back seat of a four-wheel drive as it hugs the tarmac around Lake Tekapo in the deep south of New Zealand’s South Island.

I’m trying to interview Te Tane Trinick about Mt Cook Alpine Salmon but I’m distracted. No, mesmerised.

Trinick, known colloquially as ‘‘the chief’’, is the voice of one of the most fascinating aquaculture fisheries on the planet. He’s young, ambitious, shy even, but his relaxed persona is akin to seeing an old friend again. Like a big Maori embrace.

As Trinick articulates something about ‘‘purest water on earth’’, the words simply blur into oblivion as my eyes steal strength from all my senses to bear witness to possibly the most stunning natural environment I’ve experienced. It’s so fantastical you’d swear it had been Photoshopped.

As the ice caps at the top of the surrounding alps melt during the warmer months, crystal-clear glacier-fed water filters down into the lake below. It’s a glistening mass of gentle teal rippling into rows of monolithic mountains like wispy brushstrokes. The air breathes like pure oxygen. It’s nature, showing off.

“I’m sorry Te Tane, could you say that again?” I ask the chief.

“It’s drinkable from the top and the bottom of the farm,” says Trinick, “It passes New Zealand drinking water standards above and below every time. Even with the fish in it,” he says.

It’s this fresh, pure water — gravity-fed from the glaciers into New Zealand’s highest lake (710m above sea level) — that the Mt Cook Alpine King Salmon call home. A farmed fish like no other.

King salmon, or chinook, was introduced into New Zealand from California during the late 1800s, both to establish a fishery and to entertain miners wanting to wet the line in their down time. It’s now farmed across New Zealand — some in seawater, like the Ora king, but here it’s in freshwater and housed in a flowing canal.

The canal circumnavigates Lake Tekapo and runs through two councils within the McKenzie region as part of the Waitaki Hydro Scheme.

It flows fast enough to generate enough energy to drive 12,600 2kW heaters — and in this neck of the woods they need them. The mercury can dip as low as minus 20C. The speed of the water flow changes — depending on the whim of the power companies to power turbines connected to an electrical generator.

At full speed it’s 130,000 litres of water a second. That’s about 7 knots. If you were in the water you’d need to hang on. That means the fish are swimming at the equivalent of a human’s fast jog all the time.

Mt Cook Alpine has three farms within the canal system — making them a secondary user of it — producing a beautiful salmon with a shimmery green top, almost like a kingfish, with chrome underbelly.

alpine salmon

“With most salmon farming they put the animals in an area that is quite still so the animal doesn’t have to do any work,” says Trinick.

“Because the animal is swimming the whole time they don’t have the same muscle structure as fish just sitting in a pond eating — it’s behaving like it would in the wild.”

The fish is constantly burning energy and therefore takes longer to grow than most farmed salmon, and farmed fish in general.

“It’s the equivalent of you living outside here or living in a stuffy box — you can breathe but you’re not having much fun,” farm manager Dan Marsh says of the purity and oxygen levels in the water here as compared with standard fish farms.

The farm I visit has 11 rafts about 100m long and 5m wide that sit in the canal. Each raft contains 11 pens, 6m deep at the centre and can hold up to 18,000 fish, though stocking rarely reaches that level: king salmon spook easily and are flighty, so low stocking density is necessary.

The fish are hand-fed every day. There are no automatic feeders; rather, someone stands with a bucket to ensure the feed is exactly the right quantity.

When small, the salmon take 1kg of food for 1kg of growth, but by the end of their life cycle that will increase to about 1.8kg of feed per 1kg of growth. Currently the main source of feed is vegetable and marine-based proteins.

At harvest, a vacuum sucks the fish from the water, which is then stunned with an air pump. Essentially a blunt piston hits them right between the eyes to knock them out — but doesn’t penetrate the flesh like the Ike Jime method. The salmon are bled within 10 seconds and go straight into an ice slurry at 0C.

Fish are harvested five days a week, all year round, with roughly four tonnes of fish harvested a day.

Salmon are ready for market at about two years of age. By then the standard weight is roughly 4kg — a size that is not only optimum from a culinary perspective but also offers quality yield (meat to bone ratio).

At some fish farms, the production model is about maximising growth, so they’ll feed them to fatten them — not unlike a cattle feedlot.

In contrast, Mt Cook Alpine king salmon is closer to the free-range model, working hard for its feed, burning off what it eats, resulting in cleaner, healthier flesh.

mt cook salmon

Also, its fat content is about 16 per cent, compared to 12-13 per cent fat of the Atlantic salmon farmed in Tasmania.

That 16 per cent is equivalent to that of farmed Hiramasa kingfish, and means the Mt Cook product works well in both raw and cooked applications. But its best attribute is in the clarity of the flesh and clean flavour.

Fish savant Stephen Hodges, the man who gave Sydney one of the best fish restaurants in the southern hemisphere — Fish Face — believes the difference between our own Atlantic salmon and Mt Cook Alpine King salmon is like comparing chalk and cheese.

“The new-season fish is really creamy when raw and it’s the perfect fish for curing,” he says.

“It has a softer flesh than the Atlantic but it‘s really delicious when cooked too because of that clean flesh and high fat content.”

Now working with the team at Sydney Fresh Seafood, Hodges says Atlantic salmon has become the chicken of the seafood category.

“We sell 100 pieces of Atlantic salmon for one of every other fish,” he says. “But some consumers come in and say ‘I’ll buy that because it’s got no flavour’.

“There’s nothing wrong with it, but there’s nothing right with it either. It’s a benign piece of fish. You wouldn’t buy it or cook it for the actual fish; its advantage is it can carry any flavour — especially Asian flavours,” he says of the Atlantic. The Mt Cook Alpine, though, is delicious in its own right.”

Sydney-based seafood consultant John Susman, who markets Mt Cook Alpine Salmon, explains the correlation between the fish feed and the taste of the final product.

“As soon as you coagulate the protein you can taste what the fish has been eating and the environment it lived in, and that’s why a lot of farmed fish tastes like its feed,” he says.

“Mt Cook is an exceptional fish with a clean flavour like no other. It will change your perspective on the category.”

But you don’t have to take his word for it: Mt Cook was the first salmon farm in Australasia to receive Best Aquaculture Practice Certification.

It’s also the salmon of choice of some of our best chefs — think Martin Benn, Neil Perry and Heston Blumenthal (at The Fat Duck, both back home in Britain and for his Melbourne pop-up).

Never thought you’d be wild about farmed fish? Neither did I.

Written by Anthony Huckstep for