Eating tilapia is worse than eating bacon?
A few years ago, a guy named Josh Axe authored an article titled "Eating Tilapia Is Worse Than Eating Bacon". In truth, Josh Axe is a salesman. He owns a big online store where he profits from alternative medicine and natural cures, but "Dr." Axe isn't a medical doctor at all. In fact, he failed to get accepted into medical school when he tried, which may explain why he rails so hard against mainstream medicine. He is however a chiropractor, so apparently he knows how to pull your leg, crack your back, use a vibrator and sell you shoe insoles; but he can't practice medicine, write prescriptions, perform minor office procedures or even legally put a band-aid on your cut. He is also a naturopath, which is basically a modern day shaman and may qualify him to work at Whole Foods, but not much more.
The first problem with his article is with the title itself. It is meant to grab attention, which it does, but it has nothing to do with the words that follow. In the opening paragraph, he actually rebukes his own title by agreeing that fish is healthy and better for you than bacon, but then goes on to state that the real problem lies with the source of the fish. His claim is that there is a big difference between fish caught in the wild and fish raised on a farm. He states that the most common farm-raised fish are salmon, tilapia, catfish, sea bass and cod. After which he states that eating farm-raised fish is dangerous.
Now bear in mind, Josh axe has never set foot on a tilapia farm, however he is getting his information from somewhere. But where? The subtitle in his article is "6 Reasons Tilapia Farming is Dangerous to Your Health". His first reason is that "recent studies have found that farm-raised tilapia may cause more inflammation". The study to which Josh is referring was performed on patients already suffering from the ill effects of very high inflammation. It is a warning that tilapia, as well as hundreds of other foods, are not recommended in these particular patients since they needed a special diet with nearly zero omega-6 fatty acids. The "recent study" as Josh calls it, was written at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical and funded by none other than the Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine and the office of Dietary Supplements. So basically, Josh Axe is quoting a study funded by his supporters in the alternative medicine and supplements industry.
His second reason isn't about tilapia at all, instead he bad-mouths salmon. But not just any salmon, specifically farm-raised salmon. Why does this guy have such a chip on his should against farm-raised fish? He goes on to say that farmed salmon are fed chicken feces along with pig and duck waste. Now we may just stupid tilapia farmers, but salmon are obligate carnivores. It takes about five pounds of other fish to make one pound of salmon. This fact contributes to the price of farm-raised salmon.
Thinking point: The cost to raise farmed salmon is greater than catching them in the wild. So why is wild-caught more expensive?
His third reason has to do with pesticides and antibiotics. He sites a study where fish farms in Vietnam were found to have concentrations of veterinary drugs. The study was performed on data from samples taken between 2000 and 2009 and concluded that more rigorous inspections upon import were necessary. It had nothing to do with fish farmed in the US where the FDA has authority, but that fact doesn't sway the context-be-damned Axe. He goes on to theorize that wild-caught salmon couldn't possibly have these pesticides and antibiotics because the delicate wild-caught salmon would be killed with the slightest exposure. In other words, the farm-raised fish which are genetically the same fish as the wild-caught are so robust that they can tolerate veterinary drugs but the free ocean-swimming salmon, which incidentally are exposed to levels of mercury not found on farms, would die instantly. So if the package says wild-caught salmon, it must be pesticide free.
His fourth reason would be laughable if he didn't have a following of people who trust in his nonsense. He states that "farm-bred fish also have lower levels of healthy nutrients". He claims that the omega-3 fatty acids are less useable when they come from farm-raised fish, and that farm-raised fish have a lower protein content. These statements demonstrate how little Josh thinks of the intelligence of his readers. It's spit out like a bullet point that Josh wished was true and intended to find some obscure article written by another non-medical quack, but ran out of time.
His last two reasons have do with Dibutylin levels from the plastics that he assumes are used on all fish farms as well as the dioxin levels that at least one test showed were in farm-raised salmon. He literally blames asthma, obesity allergies on farm-raised fish, then drops a cancer bomb in an attempt to scare his readers even further.
Thankfully he finished spitting out reasons before he blamed the fall of society on farm-raised salmon. But not before he takes a few shots at farmed shrimp. It's pretty clear this guy is making a case against farm-raised everything. The title of his article is "Eating Tilapia Is Worse Than Eating Bacon" and his sub title is "6 Reasons Tilapia Farming is Dangerous to Your Health", but other than his first reason, he never mentions tilapia in the entire article. It's all about farm-raised salmon!
His conclusion reveals his true agenda. The sub title is "What to Eat Instead of Tilapia Recipes". The text that follows is once again all about salmon. Only this time it's in favor of wild-caught salmon, and of course if you can't get (afford) wild-caught salmon he "highly recommends" that you take a fish oil supplement to which he boldly provides you with a link bringing to you even closer to making a purchase from his own online store.
The publicity of bad nutrition
The Alaskan wild-caught salmon industry is insanely powerful. How powerful? To give you an idea, they've managed to influence appointed officials in Alaska to outlaw all forms of aquaculture in their state under the guise of protecting wildlife. Think about that for a second. There aren't very many fish that can survive in the freezing waters of Alaska, yet somehow tilapia, a tropical fish that would die within seconds of being released into Alaskan waters, is prohibited from even indoor farming. It's literally illegal to own a tilapia for the purposes of eating in Alaska. Sure you can have them as pets, but if you eat those pets you are in violation.
We wish it ended there, but it doesn't. For the last few years they have been systematically influencing wildlife and natural resource departments in every state. How they work their way into the favor of non-Alaskan officials is beyond the scope of this page, but the fact still stands. Tilapia producers have been harassed into testing for diseases that simply don't exist in tilapia as a way of limiting their numbers. In 2018 corrupt bureaucrats in one state enlisted the Federal Government to prosecute tilapia dealers under the Lacey act in an effort to protect "indigenous species". An action that benefited the wild-caught salmon industry more than anyone else.
To top it off, the salmon industry pays digital celebrities as well as popular writers and reporters to publish articles opposing farm-raised fish in favor of wild-caught. We've reached out to some of these authors and it's not surprising to learn that they were paid to write their story and were given open access to salmon industry "experts" for "factual content". We've even given interviews to reporters who have redacted our words and twisted our statements in to something in favor of wild-caught salmon. So the next time that you read that some disease was discovered in some fish somewhere or that some fish is bad for you or "worse than bacon" be skeptical. Read the whole story and you're sure to find the place where they recommend wild-caught salmon. It's always in there somewhere.