Farm-Raised Seafood

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Many people have concerns about farm-raised seafood…for good reason! A lot of harm has been done by poorly managed seafood farms. That’s why we decided to do something about it. We do farmed better. Fresh or frozen, we know where all of our farm-raised seafood comes from, and require third-party verification of water quality and dozens of other quality standards, including what it was fed, and what it wasn’t. Bottom line, all our farmed seafood is Responsibly Farmed seafood.

Why Aquaculture Done Right is a Good Thing

Farmed seafood can provide a consistent, high-quality, year-round supply of healthy, delicious and versatile protein. Poor aquaculture (seafood-farming) practices such as the use of antibiotics, fungicides and pesticides are bad news. As are methods that cause water pollution and other negative impacts on the environment. Done right, aquaculture standards prohibit questionable inputs, is environmentally friendly and is crucial to supplement the world’s wild-caught seafood supply. You’ve come to the right place. Our third-party verification process ensures that we only source Responsibly Farmed seafood.

How We Do Farmed Seafood Better

Pardon our pride, but we really do have incredibly strong and thorough buying standards for farmed seafood—feel free to compare us to other markets! We are committed to only sourcing according to these high standards.

Our Standards for Farm-Raised Finfish and Shrimp

These standards cover shrimp as well as fish like salmon, trout, tilapia, char, catfish and several other species of farmed finfish. We require:

  • No use of antibiotics, added growth hormones and poultry and mammalian products in feed
  • No genetically modified or cloned seafood
  • Minimizing the impacts of fish farming on the environment by protecting sensitive habitats such as mangrove forests and wetlands, monitoring water quality to prevent pollution and sourcing feed ingredients responsibly
  • No added preservatives such as sodium bisulfite, sodium tri-polyphosphate (STP) and sodium metabisulfite
  • Traceability from farm to store
  • Third-party audits

See out complete standards for farm-raised finfish and shrimp (pdf)

Our Standards for Farm-Raised Mollusks

These standards cover bivalve mollusks, specifically oysters, mussels, clams, and scallops. We require:

  • Monitoring sediments on the seafloor to evaluate the health of ecosystems under the farms (a.k.a. benthic impacts)
  • No pesticide use allowed
  • No genetically modified or cloned seafood
  • Protection of the coastal environment
  • Rigorous water quality monitoring
  • Traceability from farm to store
  • Third-party audits

See our complete standards for farm-raised mollusks (pdf)

Farm-Raised Shrimp

Our standards prohibit conversion of sensitive ecosystems such as mangrove forests into shrimp farms, and we track the shrimp from pond to store to ensure the standards are met. Shortly after harvest, they're flash frozen to maintain that "good shrimp" flavor and texture. And, unlike what you'll often find at other markets, our standards prohibit treating shrimp with preservatives.

Farm-Raised Salmon

Our salmon are raised in carefully monitored, low-density pens and tanks without antibiotics, pesticides or added growth hormones. Detailed protocols prevent escape of the salmon into the wild, and harmful and lethal methods are never used on predator birds and marine mammals. And pigments used for colorant are from non-synthetic sources.

Farm-Raised Rainbow Trout

Our trout are raised in systems that mimic a rushing stream with no antibiotics and no land-animal products in the feed.

Farm-Raised Tilapia

Our tilapia is raised to our strict standards which prohibit antibiotics and preservatives. Nor do we allow the industry-standard use of hormones for sex reversal. In addition, our tilapia feed contains fish processing trimmings instead of wild fish caught just for feed.

Farm-Raised Arctic Char

This cousin to salmon has a gorgeous reddish pink color and a very likable, full but not fishy flavor. Located among the black volcanic boulders of Iceland's southwest coastline, our farmer partners raise Arctic char in land-based tanks using the clear, clean cold water that Iceland is known for. This system offers excellent control over water quality, prevents escape of fish into the wild and helps protect the char from predators.

Farm-Raised Catfish

Our catfish are fed a mostly vegetarian diet with no antibiotics or hormones added. And synthetic herbicides are never used in their ponds. Our partner in North Carolina has been working with us for years to hone their process for the finest catfish farm in the U.S. To maintain high standards—theirs and ours—they own it all, the farm, and the feed and processing plants.

Farm-Raised Mollusks

In addition to prohibiting pesticide use and requiring water quality monitoring and protection of the coastal environment, our standards for farmed oysters, clams, mussels and scallops require evaluating the health of sediments on the seafloor to help protect bottom-dwelling animals and the ecosystem beneath the farms. Excessive organic loading can create sulfides, which are toxic to animals that live in the sediments — so we make sure our farm-raised mollusks are friendly to their downstairs neighbors.

Looking for more about seafood at Whole Foods Market? We’re just as careful about sourcing sustainable wild-caught seafood. And check out our seafood FAQs.