The colour of salmon

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Pablo Edronkin

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What colour do you see when you eat salmon? Many would say somewhat redundantly that its colour is salmon, or red, but in reality, it isn't; the odd thing is that people normally wouldn't like to buy salmon, which is not coloured salmon, which is not the truth. This kind of selective blindness can be seen also in decision-making processes, turning management and leadership into random ventures.

The meat of salmon is not naturally red but white; the colour that you see most of the times you are confronted with salmon dish comes naturally from the diet of these animals: they eat a lot of crustaceans and hence, assimilate some pigments into their own bodies. Many of the salmonids that come from the Pacific ocean get this colour naturally and you can rest assured of that because breeding them in fish farms is outlawed in several jurisdictions. On the other hand, salmon coming from the Atlantic have been likely raised in water farms where there are no crustaceans to feed from and hence, it is simply impossible that many of these fish will get the colour. What happens is that they are given dyed food; in some cases natural components are used - i.e. crustacean-based powders - and in others, artificial colours. In some places where you can get quality salmon products, like Norway, it is possible to find good, honest, white salmon but people tend to reject them simply because true salmon doesn't look like what they would expect from salmon. Oddly on the Atlantic side of the world, salmon coloured salmon is not what salmon should be for the most part but people assume the inverse when measuring quality.

It is said that people who in South America drink too much mate tea end up having their stomachs dyed green, because mate is indeed strong coloured and theoretically, left to its own devices, its characteristic green could also be assimilated into human tissues. In Argentina the nickname "green bellies" was given to army recruits who had to do their physical training wearing white t-shirts that after a while over wet grass became stained with green. It is also an urban myth of sorts that states that in the past, at the time of revolutionary wars, soldiers who were blown up and torn apart by ordnance were found to have green stomachs because of their high consumption of mate tea.

It would be indeed ridiculous to state that the natural colour of the human stomach is green, but someone who could only learn about human anatomy based on the unfortunate practical examples of a South American, nineteenth century war, would probably say so in a similar fashion as what salmon consumers generally do. Sometimes deception is so great that t becomes more acceptable than truth itself. Whenever a consumer, a normal, average individual becomes the victim of such a self-deception all sorts of unscrupulous merchants could potentially take advantage of the situation; the damage that they could inflict could even ruin the lives of people. Now imagine the scale of potential damage when the person that makes the choice of going with self-delusion is a leader.

Simply nature; dawn in early fall, Patagonia.

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