I purchased a salmon fillet at the grocery store. The product was tagged as "Atlantic salmon," and its country of origin was Chile. I thought Chile was on the Pacific coast of South America. In looking at a map, I confirmed Chile's location. Are the salmon migrating around the tip of Tierra del Fuego, or are they swimming through the Panama Canal, or what? I'm confused. Sign me ... - Dryside Fish Lover
Your bewilderment is understandable. Atlantic salmon aren't found south of the equator, let alone in the Pacific Ocean.
Welcome to the wonderful world of globalization right here in little ol' Durango.
Globalization is nifty. It allows us consumers to enjoy an immense variety of clothing, toys and food - all produced in exotic locales.
Trouble is, your shoes were made by abused kids in a sweatshop, your toddler's playthings are smothered in lead paint and your dog's chow is tainted by toxic chemicals.
But hey, at least the stuff's cheap!
Not to be anti-fish, but the same is true with your salmon.
Yes, it's the species Atlantic salmon. And it does come from Chile. But it's kind of creepy.
"Farming salmon in Chile is a bit like farming penguins in the Rocky Mountains," writes investigative journalist Charles Fishman, whose bestselling book, The Wal-Mart Effect, features a chapter on the explosive growth of salmon farming on the southern South America coast.
Fishman. What a perfect name for a salmon expert.
Anyway, about 65 percent of the farmed salmon sold in America is imported from Chile, he said. Chile's shipments of farmed salmon and trout in 2008 netted a record $2.48 billion, a 6.4 percent increase over 2007. Salmon now is Chile's second-largest export.
Fifteen years ago, the country didn't even have a salmon industry.
The fish are hatched from eggs, raised to adolescence in freshwater hatcheries and grow to maturity in cages of thousands of fish suspended in cold coastal waters.
And now for the bummer.
Farmed salmon extracts a heavy toll on the environment. Disease runs rampant and the intensive farms pollute surrounding waters with fish waste and chemicals.
All of this probably is far more than you want to know about trans-oceanic aquaculture, but there you are.
Forget surf and go turf. Buy local protein at the farmers market.
Jeff Mannix's healthy longhorns are a lot closer to Durango than expatriate salmon from crowded, diseased fish farms from Chile.
At the Durango-La Plata County Airport luggage carousel, there's this ad for the new Sky Ute Resort and Casino. It shows the facility at the shore of a lake with the La Plata Mountains looming majestically behind the casino. I didn't remember a lake on the north side of Ignacio, nor had I ever seen the La Platas that close to Ignacio, so I chalked it up to jet lag. Today I saw another picture of the casino in the new Durango Magazine with virtually the same dodgy lake and the mountain backdrop. What gives? Has the tribe managed to rearrange the geography of La Plata County? - Daphne White
The Southern Ute Tribe certainly is rich and powerful, but it can't move mountains.
For that, you need only a computer and Adobe Photoshop software.
Nevertheless, Action Line called up the casino to inquire about the "dodgy lake" and dubious panorama. Calls were referred to this office and that. Seems there's no Department of Photographic Manipulation in Ignacio.
But what's the big deal? It's not like the Sky Ute Resort and Casino is the first gaming operation to "enhance" a fantasy promotional image.
But if the casino starts advertising on-site fishing, that would be suspect.
Especially if the lake were stocked with Atlantic salmon.
E-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if you can explain what purpose is served by having a silent letter "l" in salmon.