Scientists Designing Fish for Better Taste, Nutrition

"It's just a function of what we feed it," he says. "We can make a fish taste fishier [by giving it more fish meal], or milder [by giving it more soy beans]."

In fact, he adds, he can make it pretty boring.

"Some people call it bland, like chicken," he says.

Farm-Raised Mushy

Brown might be able to make it taste better, but most fish lovers will tell you that some farm-raised fish, like salmon, have a different texture than wild fish. In a word, it's mushy.

Apparently, farm-raised fish don't have to work as hard as wild salmon, so they don't get enough exercise to make them a tad tougher. And they are fed a lot of fat to make them grow quickly.

But some species, he insists, seem to thrive on the farm.

"We did a series of taste tests at four different state fairs, and the farm-raised perch was preferred over the wild perch by a wide margin," Brown says.

But, chances are, some folks are going to be hard to convince, especially young people who so desperately need to break away from fast food and develop a taste for fish. A small serving of salmon, about the size of a deck of cards, can have a major impact on human heath if consumed once or twice a week, according to new guidelines put out by the American Heart Association.

There would be no problem, of course, if Brown and his colleagues could figure out how to make a sardine taste like a bag of french fries. Wouldn't mind having one of those puppies myself.

Lee Dye’s column appears weekly on ABCNEWS.com. A former science writer for the Los Angeles Times, he now lives in Juneau, Alaska.

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