Archive for the ‘Seafood’ Category

How do we make sure there’s enough fish for everyone to go around? A good way to start is by eating sustainable seafood. That’s right! Eating sustainable seafood can help manage and replenish our ocean with plenty of fish for future generations.

The essence of consuming sustainable seafood is:

  1. EAT small fish. NOT big ones.
  2. EAT wild fish. NOT farmed ones.
  3. EAT local fish. Only the healthy ones, NOT the 5 local contaminated fish.
  4. EAT farmed shellfish.

Now that you know the spirit of eating sustainable, watch this 1-minute video featuring Andy Sharpless, CEO of Oceana, to find out how you can help save the ocean by making intelligent choices when choosing to eat sustainable seafood for your next meal.

Are you a seafood foodie? At FCEC, we are all about seafood… the right kind of seafood!

What do we mean by the right kind of seafood? Safe, sustainable fish to eat! Seafood for the Future created an Inspired Choices culinary magazine featuring local healthy choices of fish, cooking tips and creative recipes from local chefs to expand your palates and knowledge of sustainable seafood!

For some, eating the right kind of seafood may seem like a daunting task, so they may completely remove seafood from their diet. That’s not the way to go. By consuming safe, sustainable seafood, you provide your body with many health benefits such as protein and vitamins. However, sometimes certain types of seafood can cause your body harm. That’s why it’s important to pick the right kind of seafood. If you love fishing or going on an adventure to catch your own meal, make sure you are aware of the local fishing advisory. FCEC recommends not consuming white croaker, black croaker, topsmelt, barred sand bass and barracuda caught off the Southern California coast due to contamination.

The art of choosing and cooking sustainable seafood is not only a mark of an ethical angler, but a responsible and healthy human being. So, select a safe, sustainable fish and a recipe from Inspired Choices and enjoy a Tropical Mahi Mahi with Mango-Pineapple Salsa, a Crispy Stripped Bass, or a Gently Spiced Trout BLT Appetizer to end the summer.

Have you tried any sustainable seafood recently? Share your favorite sustainable fish with us!

 

“For the past 50 years, we’ve been fishing the seas like we clear-cut forests. It’s hard to overstate the destruction. Ninety percent of large fish, the ones we love — the tunas, the halibuts, the salmons, swordfish — they’ve collapsed.” – Dan Barber

Watch this insightful Ted Talk by Dan Barber, a renowned New York chef and scholar, as he describes how he fell in love with fish and the sustainable recipe for the future of good food.

Is this healthy and self-renewing ecological network Dan describes possible? Wouldn’t you want all your food to come from these sustainable conditions? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section and join the conversation!

 

The best anglers fish responsibly—for their own health and for the environment’s. That’s why, when it comes to fish, any can be fun to catch, but not all are a good idea to keep. The danger is not because of recreational anglers. More often the biggest threats to individual fish species or the ocean’s ecosystem as a whole come from large scale commercial and industrial practices. Still, everyday anglers can make a big impact with small, but smart decisions.

Probably the best thing you can do as an angler to protect the ocean, and fishing, for yourself, your kids and beyond is to learn about which marine species are the most threatened. Some are valuable catches, such as the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna, that are in serious danger of extinction! So while you can’t always control what you catch, you can choose what to release. If you reel in an endangered species, take a picture then put the fish back in the water because, seriously, it will last longer.

The same caution should apply when going out to eat seafood. Even if you’re not catching the fish yourself, supporting sustainable seafood can help to ease the pressure on fish populations. Whether you’re placing an order, or doing the cooking, consider alternatives and substitutes that will give you the flavor you’re looking for tonight and ensure that it will be there tomorrow. Luckily for the West Coast, many of our local species from California to Alaska have stronger numbers than their Atlantic counterparts. That means less hard choices on the water and fresher options at the table.

But it’s also important to make choices for your own heath as well. Some seafood options may have strong populations in the wild, but they are exposed to toxics that they absorb from their environment. Large roaming predators like sharks can have extremely high levels of mercury built up from eating smaller species. Smaller fish can be highly impacted based on their surroundings. So, it’s always a great idea to know where your fish is caught and how it is prepared to minimize your exposure to harmful chemicals. You might not feel the effects right away, but consuming contaminated fish can lead to bigger health risks down the road.

There’s no denying the love anglers have for catching fish, and that we all have for eating them. That’s why it’s important to learn about which fish we should avoid, to protect both the fish and ourselves, to ensure delicious meals, to secure a fun hobby and to keep a healthy environment for generations to come.

 

*Photo courtesy of Rodale.

 

How many different types of fish would you be able to identify in a blind taste test? While it may sound like an episode of Man V. Food, this culinary challenge is actually a serious financial and health concern for the FDA, restaurateurs and you!

Once a catch has been cut, processed, cooked and served, it can be difficult for even the most trained eye—and sometimes palette—to be able to identify the species. For some unscrupulous marketplace sellers this can lead to “seafood substitution,” where one type of fish, usually of poorer quality, is mislabeled and sold as a premium product. This practice, a violation of federal law, not only cheats buyers and diners out of the product they are expecting but can also expose them to toxins found in lower grade fish species. In an even sadder turn, endangered species can be passed off as commercial catches.

To face this seafood mislabeling issue, The Barcode of Life has developed a new technology, officially approved by the FDA this Fall, that is able to scan a fish protein and identify it by comparing short strings of DNA just like a grocery store checkout scanner reads a barcode! Since 2003, The Barcode of Life, has built up a DNA database of more than 167,000 species and hopes to have 5 million cataloged by 2015. This technology could be used to identify 500,000 species and prevent mislabeling. That means when your date orders the lobster, you won’t be paying for monkfish, or even worse, buying monkfish and actually eating toxic pufferfish which caused several people to become sick in 2007. Since seafood is one of the most highly traded commodities in the world, there is a big movement to make the DNA barcoding of seafood a standard industry practice. The more widely applied this technology becomes consumers can enjoy their fish without wondering what that fish actually is.

Have you ever had a seafood experience that was a bit too fishy for your taste? If you have, tell us about it and let others know about this issue!

 

*Photo courtesy of Greenpeace.

 

While Monty Python’s Fish Slap Dance is considered by some as a staple of absurdist British comedy, SlapFish, a self-styled modern seafood shack—in truck form—is quickly becoming a staple of both Southern California street cuisine and sustainability. And along with an appreciation for the comedic potential of fish of all sizes, SlapFish owners, Chef Andrew Gruel and Jethro Naude, share with the Pythons a large helping of smarts behind their irreverent public persona.

Chef Gruel’s menu shows that everyday seafood can be innovative, fresh, healthy, fun and affordable. To support this message, Gruel and Naude work with local artisans to bring in ingredients that are seasonal, sustainable and directly from the source and informed by experts and scientists in the fields of conservation and marine biology from groups including: the Aquarium of the Pacific’s Seafood for the Future program, FishWatch, and The World Wildlife Foundation. For foodies and snackers on the on the streets of LA and Orange county, this means that SlapFish doesn’t just offer a mobile infrastructure of in-your-face deliciousness; it’s a way to support local entrepreneurs as well as global conservation. On both those counts, searching for and dining at the SlapFish truck is well worth the effort.

This is the kind of business-model innovation that we at FCEC are thrilled to watch take off; one that delivers a superior product to a wide range of people in a way that promotes environmental stewardship.  We hope you all get the opportunity to try out SlapFish’s “Losbticle” along with their other great dishes, but more importantly, think about ways you can bring this same sort of 1-2 punch model into your own life or business. And if you stumble on a really great idea, or know someone else who has, write back and share it with us!

Have you eaten at the SlapFish food truck? What dishes did you taste? Share your experience with us!

*Photo courtesy of SlapFishSoCal.

Can pregnant women and babies eat fish? Are there antibiotics in seafood? Are farmed or wild fish healthier to eat? FCEC, like those of you that are environmental and health conscious consumers, is also concerned with these important issues.

FCEC is pleased to share answers to these questions that recently appeared on HealthyChild’s blog. Their post addressed these very issues for readers and here’s some of the important information they shared.

How often is it okay to eat seafood?

It depends on your weight and what fish you eat. To check where you fall on the scale of how much fish consumption is safe, visit the Physician’s for Social Responsibility fact sheet or this chart put together by the Environmental Defense Fund which shows the type of fish that can be eaten safely by men, women and kids.

Are there antibiotics in fish?

The key is to know where your seafood is coming from. Fish from foreign countries is often not regulated in the same way it is in the United States. In general, according to Food and Water Watch, choose wild over farmed fish, unless it is farmed Rainbow Trout or farmed Oysters.

Is it okay for pregnant women to eat fish?

You have to be careful about the fish you choose to eat. While it is important to have a good source of omega-3 fatty acids for the overall well-being and development of babies, it is also crucial to avoid fish that are high in contamination. Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch lists a hand full of fish that are healthy to eat and high in omega-3s.

Can babies eat fish?

Once your child is 8 to 9 months of age, it is okay to feed them fish as long as you consult with your doctor first. Of course, if your doc gives you the green light, make sure the fish is boneless, cooked thoroughly and cut into small pieces. Also, as with any new foods for babies, you need to watch for any adverse side effects.

Check out the other great questions and answers about safe fish consumption by visiting the resourceful HealthyChild.org.

Photo is courtesy of DCFoodKing.info.

Are you concerned about the vitality of sea life in our oceans? We have all heard that fish in the sea aren’t what they used to be. This is due largely to over-fishing in our oceans, which has depleted fish populations. If you love to eat fish, it can be difficult to know which fish are sustainable and okay to eat.

Recently, based on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch List, a cool diagram put together by GOOD and Always With Honor displays The Right Fish to eat. Take a look at the diagram and see which types of fishing practices are safe and which fish are good to eat based on the species’ population.

The Right Fish illustration allows you to find the fish that are okay to eat depending on the region where you live. Keep this easy-to-use map handy when you are picking out a meal — post it on your fridge and share it with your friends!

Will you be using The Right Fish diagram? Let us know what you think of it by leaving a comment below.

Photo courtesy of GOOD.

Colorful dish of sustainable seafood

Whether you are a consumer, supplier, distributor or vendor of seafood, making sustainable choices is important for the environment and the industry.  By making sustainable choices, we ensure that seafood can be consumed and enjoyed in the future.

When the FCEC team heard about Santa Monica Seafood, the largest seafood distributor in the Southwest United States, while doing a feature on seafood mislabeling, we were excited to have found a company that was as passionate about seafood sustainability as weare about protecting the public’s health.

Since its founding in 1939 as a family owned business, Santa Monica Seafood (SMS) has always sourced their products responsibly.  Today, in their fourth generation of family ownership, the company has many programs and systems in place to encourage vendors and customers to offer sustainable options and increase understanding of environmental responsibility.

Sustainability Ratings

Santa Monica Seafood has worked closely with Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program to apply color coded ratings to their products.  Like Seafood Watch’s guide, Santa Monica Seafood’s products are coded in an easy to understand system: Green for Best Choice, Yellow for Good Alternative and Red for Avoid.

Two additional colors are also present: Grey for products that have not been ranked yet and Blue, or SMS Approved, for products that have been vetted by Santa Monica Seafood or another trusted source.

Santa Monica Seafood works with other organizations, such as the Marine Stewardship Council, FishWise, SeaChoice, New England Aquarium and the Blue Ocean Institute to assign a Blue rating to products.  The Blue rating is used to encourage specific suppliers whose products have been rated Red by Seafood Watch, but who demonstrate a commitment to improvement, to move up in color category.

These sustainability rankings are included on Santa Monica Seafood’s invoices.  For each order, a Responsible Sourcing Score is calculated based on the number of pounds of seafood purchased and each product’s rating.

Red List Alternatives

A part of Santa Monica Seafood’s website that is helpful for consumers and vendors alike is its Red List Alternatives page.  This page lists suggested substitutes that are similar in taste or texture for seafood that have received a Red rating by Seafood Watch.

For example, the Rockfish, also known as the Pacific Red Snapper, has suggested substitutes of farm raised tilapia or farm raised striped bass.

Seafood Product Guides

Another helpful series of materials are Santa Monica Seafood’s product guides; they not only list the sustainability of a product, but also any other detail you might want to know.  From origin, method of catch and season to stocking and storage methods, you will find it all in alphabetical order within these product guides.

Slide of Santa Monica Seafood Responsible Seafood Sourcing

Responsible Sourcing Vendor Partner Program

Finally, a program unique to Santa Monica Seafood is its Responsible Sourcing Vendor Partner (RSVP) Program; it funds valuable work that educates and engages the company and its customers on sustainability issues.  Part of the funds is invested in identifying and verifying new and existing suppliers’ commitment to sustainable practices, while other funds go toward international organizations.  One organization is the National Fisheries Institute Crab Council, which is an alliance of companies that assess the Blue Swimming Crab population and efforts to manage it in the Philippines and Indonesia.

As a company with a long-standing commitment to high quality seafood and responsible sourcing and as a leader and educator in the industry, we think Santa Monica Seafood will go far in ensuring a better future for seafood—and people.  We encourage you to read more about the company by visiting their website and subscribing to their blog.

Let us know what you think about Santa Monica Seafood’s sustainable practices by leaving a comment below.

Photos via Santa Monica Seafood on Flickr.

Seafood Watch's new widgetAre you an informed consumer of seafood?  Do you know if your seafood is caught or farmed sustainably?  Seafood Watch’s new widget can help you answer these questions.

Seafood Watch, the program of Monterey Bay Aquarium that helps consumers and businesses identify sustainable seafood choices, announced the launch of its sustainable seafood widget on Facebook and Twitter earlier this month.  The widget comes after the launch of Seafood Watch’s Android app last April.

You can embed the sustainable seafood guide on a variety of places, including your website, blog, Facebook page or desktop; it is a great way to help you, your family, friends and fans make wise choices when it comes to seafood.

The widget provides searchable lists of seafood classified by region and sustainability rating: Best Choice, Good Alternative or Avoid.  There is also a separate list for seafood used in sushi.

To install the widget, press the ‘Get Widget’ button at the end of this post and either copy the embed code or click on the website where you would like to share it.

There are now four ways to reference Seafood Watch’s guide: the pocket printouts, website, mobile apps and widget.  How much easier can it get to check if you’re choosing seafood that protects both the environment and your health?

How do you reference Seafood Watch’s sustainable seafood guide?  Let us know below!