What Does “Wild-Caught” Mean?

By definition, wild-caught literally means that an animal is taken from the wild as opposed to being bred from captive stock. This term is normally associated with fish and seafood in general.

If you’re in the fish aisle at the grocery store, chances are you’ve seen the term “farm-raised” as well. But is there really a substantial difference between the two apart from the price?

The answer is a big fat YES!

So, whether you’re on a pescatarian diet or enjoy the occasional salmon fillet with a baked potato, it is vital that you know your fish and by what means they arrive on your plate.

Wild Caught Trout

And not to alarm you but… a popular fish like Tilapia eats a diet of algae and plants in the wild. (No that’s not the alarming part.) Unfortunately, its farm-raised counterparts don’t get that luxury. Instead, these factory farm fish are fed GMO corn and soy pellets. VERY unnatural, to say the least.

Furthermore farm-raised Tilapia has been proven to cause a multitude of health ailments when ingested by humans, including asthma, joint inflammation, coronary disease, etc. In fact, Tilapia can be more detrimental to your health than consistent beef and/or pork consumption!

And did I mention that farmed-raised fish food touts chicken feces as its primary ingredient? In most cases, this only rings true for farm-raised fish from China. So look at those labels closely.

Little Kid Fishing

“The scariest thing is that nobody seems to be considering the impact on those wild fish of fish farming on the scale that is now being proposed on the coast of Norway or in the open ocean off the United States. Fish farming, even with conventional techniques, changes fish within a few generations from an animal like a wild buffalo or a wildebeest to the equivalent of a domestic cow.”

-Charles Clover

 Here are some wild caught fish pros and cons:

Benefits Overview

  • Significantly less contaminants and carcinogens than farm-raised fish.
  • More omega-3s.
  • No hormones or antibiotics (at least in the U.S.)
  • Wild-caught salmon tends to have less calories and saturated fat.
  • Oh, and no chicken poop feed!


  • No significant nutritional difference, apart from salmon.
  • Presence of mercury (the bigger the fish is, the more mercury it contains).
  • Sometimes harvested using practices that harm the ecosystem.
  • More expensive.
  • Tends to have a more dry texture.

The benefits definitely outweigh the drawbacks, that’s for sure. Wild caught does seem like the better choice, but fish in general is a super healthy option. Protein, vitamins, and nutrients are still present in both wild caught and farm raised seafood.

It’s also vital to note that not all farm raised sea critters need to be villainized. Certain types (the herbivorous variety in particular) that are domestically raised in well-kept ponds are a perfectly fine health and eco-conscious option.

IMPORTANT: Make sure there’s an eco-label on the package. Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is the largest and most globally-renowned seal for wild-caught seafood. I find that it’s normally easier to find wild-caught fish in the frozen seafood section. And another very important thing to note: There’s no such thing as “organic seafood.”

“Buying Fish: What You Need to Know.”
“Fish Faceoff: Wild Salmon vs. Farmed Salmon.”
“The Truth about Tilapia.”

*DISCLAIMER: Always consult a medical professional before applying the advice given throughout this website. While the articles on HMM are thoroughly researched, it is important to speak with your medical provider before starting a new exercise routine or introducing something new to your diet. We ourselves are NOT doctors, so the information we feature should not be used to replace any of your medications or lifestyle choices that have been recommended by your doctor. Read at your own risk and read our full disclaimer here.




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