Farm-Raised Vs Wild Caught Scallops: Which Seafood is Best?


Scallops can be some of the tastiest seafood to eat. Actually, they can be some of the tastiest foods in general to eat. Before they started being farmed, they were known to be food served only in high-class restaurants as they weren’t easy to get. That raises the question though, which is best, farm-raised vs wild caught Scallops?

Wild caught scallops are better than farm-raised scallops because they have better taste and texture. Although farm-raised scallops are a good alternative because for health, nutrition and safety, both versions are similar and have equal benefits. Farm-raised are more environmentally safe because it prevents the decimation of the wild caught scallop population.

So, like many people, you enjoy Scallops. You found out that you are either eating wild or farm-raised Scallops. Now you want to know which is best so that you can stick with what you are getting or find somewhere else to get Scallops from. We are going to take an in-depth look at this topic, so, keep reading.

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Farm-raised Scallops

Lets get to the meat of the article, we are going to take a look at some things you should know about Farm-raised Scallops. Hopefully, we can answer some of your questions in the process. Later on, we will go head to head with Farm-raised VS wild Scallops.

Farm-Raised Scallops: What are they?

The Scallops are kept in large bodies of water with suspension nets. There, they reproduce and live as they usually would. The suspension nets are used so that the bottom of their ecosystem does not get damaged.

Where are the Scallops farmed?

The large majority of Scallop farming takes place inChina but the US has a few of its own. In fact, if you live in America, your Scallops are farmed locally. Maine, USA has actually been touted as having a bright future in Scallop farming 1. 

The benefits of Farm-Raised Scallops 

When making comparisons between anything, we need to talk about the benefits that something has. Now we are going to go through a small list of benefits that Farm-raised Scallops have.

  • They are environmentally friendly.
  • They have made Scallops more affordable.
  • Scallops are now more accessible. 
  • They taste great.

If it were not for Scallop farming, we are at risk of decimating the wild Scallop population. There are still ocean dredgers that harvest wild Scallops. If it were not for Scallop farms, there would be a lot more of these dredgers.

Farming the Scallops has also cut the cost of harvesting them. This makes it more accessible and affordable for the average person.

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Wild Caught Scallops

This section will not be too long. Basically, wild Scallops are exactly the same except that they are harder to get. They might have a slightly different flavor and taste better than farm-raised Scallops but not much better.  

Wild Scallops can be found in almost all the oceans 2. They come in different shapes, sizes, and colors. They are caught by ocean dredgers which is a ship that scrapes the ocean floor.

If a place sells wild Scallops, chances are they have a wider variety of Scallops available. This depends on who their supplier is and where the supplier harvests the Scallops from.

Farm-raised Scallops Vs Wild Caught Scallops: The verdict 

I assume that this is the part of the article that you have been waiting for. Which of the two are best? Well, Each has its benefits but there can only be one winner. Let’s get into it. 

The taste

While there isn’t actually a major difference, wild caught Scallops do win this round. I need to add that Farm-raised Scallops are not that different from wild Scallops. Unlike fish who swim around the ocean, a Scallop normally embeds itself into the ocean floor. This means that there isn’t much of a change from their original habitat to the farm.

Still, wild Scallops have a slightly better taste and texture.

Sustainability

This is where the Farm-raised Scallop wins. There is no need to decimate the Scallop population when you can control the number of Scallops destined for consumption.

Dangers

As we mentioned at the start of the article, both Farm-raised and wild Scallops contain mercury that is a byproduct of pollution. None of them win this one but we all lose. 

Health

None of them win this one. It does not matter if the Scallop was Farm-raised or wild. They are a healthy food to eat provided that you are not allergic. I find Scallops to be a great choice for anyone who is on a diet. The low fat and high protein count actually make the Scallop perfect for the Keto diet.

As long as you prepare the Scallop in a way that promotes good health, this is healthy food to eat 3.

Cost

You will pay more for wild caught Scallops 4. Most people in the west can still only get wild Scallops from a premium store and/or restaurant. Farm-raised Scallops are more affordable. So, Farm-raised wins this one.

Since we’re comparing fish vs fish, have you ever wondered if frozen or canned Salmon is better? You may want to check out this article next, Frozen Salmon vs. Canned Salmon: Which is Healthier?

What Are Scallops?

A Scallop can be any type of Clam. The correct wording for these types of sea creatures is “Bivalve Mollusk”. This refers to creatures whose exterior shell has two parts and a hinge while the creature has a lateral body 5. There we go, we got the technical stuff out of the way.

Scallops are a healthy food that comes out of the Ocean. They are normally found in cold water but can be found all over the world They prefer shallow waters but can be harvested up to 180 to 210 meters deep. Some Scallops can be found at around 400 meters but this is rare.

Scallops are rich with protein, low in calories and fat so they are a great food for people who are watching their weight 6. Two large or 5 small scallops contain the following nutrients:

  • Protein: 10% DV
  • Selenium: 10% DV
  • Vitamin B12: 8% DV
  • Phosphorus: 7% DV
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: 64.5 mg
  • Calories: 26

You get different species of Scallop 7. Some are more common in some areas and vice versa. In North America, the most commonly consumed species are the “bay Scallop” and the “Alaskan deep-sea Scallop”. If you are from that region, chances are, that is what you have been eating. Let’s take a look at some other Scallops:

  • The Great Scallop: Found mostly in the North-East Atlantic. 
  • The Bay Scallop: Found mostly in the northwest Atlantic and is the most common Scallop in North America 8.
  • The Queen Scallop: A small and colorful Scallop that is found 400 meters deep in the North Sea. 
  • The Noble Scallop: Another small and colorful Scallop that is very popular in Japan.
  • The Chlamys Varia: This Scallop is found in the North Sea, Atlantic, Red sea and the English channel.
  • The pecten Jacobaeus: I had to include this Scallop as it is found in the Mediterranian ocean which makes it pretty rare.
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Is it safe to eat Scallops?

If you are not allergic to shellfish or seafood in general then Scallops should be perfectly safe. If you are unsure, I recommend consulting your doctor.

Seafood like Muscles and Scallops have been found to have mercury in them. This is regardless of whether they are farm-raised or wild caught. The Mercury is caused by pollution and at this point, can’t really be escaped.

Conclusion

Farm-raised Vs wild caught Scallops will continue to be a debate amongst foodies across the world. Whichever you think is best will probably be due to what you define as “best”. Do you prefer flavor over cost or cost and sustainability over flavor?

Whichever way you go, the best thing to do is enjoy the food. Scallops are one of my favorite things to eat and I hope we continue to harvest them.

Read Next – More Food vs. Food Articles!

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Article Resources: Foods For Anti-Aging follows strict guidelines to ensure our content is the highest journalistic standard. It's our mission to provide the reader with accurate, honest and unbiased guidance. Our content relies on medical associations, research institutions, government agencies and study resources. Learn more by reading our editorial policy.
  1. NPR: Maine Lobstermen Give Farming Sea Scallops A Try[]
  2. Ocean Conservancy: Wildlife Fact Sheets: Sea Scallop[]
  3. FDA: Selecting and Serving Fish and Frozen Seafood Safely[]
  4. Colorado State University: Wild caught vs. farm raised seafood[]
  5. Wikipedia: Scallop[]
  6. NutritionData: Scallops[]
  7. EDF Seafood Selector: Scallops[]
  8. Florida State University: Bay Scallops in Florida Seagrass Beds[]

Kevin Garce

Kevin Garce is a Certified Health Coach who encourages people by informing them on nutrition and food topics important to them. His years of research and knowledge inspire people to achieve their goals. Read more here About Me

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