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.
Seafood for the Future, a non-profit seafood advisory and promotion program, hosted a “Best of the West Chowderfest” on Saturday, March 9 at the Aquarium of the Pacific to celebrate one of the things we all love here at FCEC – sustainable seafood. The event featured local chefs preparing one-of-a-kind seafood chowders made from locally caught or sustainably raised seafood. During the event, FCEC asked Primal Alchemy’s Chef Paul Buchanan why events that highlight sustainable seafood are important to the community:
“Events like these bring awareness to what the local seafood situation is out there… and will prompt consumers to ask where their fish are coming from.”
Participants of the event, like Philip Isenberg who believes that “it’s important to protect fish so that we always have them,” had the opportunity to sample many unique varieties of seafood chowders prepared by knowledgeable chefs and was then able to vote for what he considered to be the “Best of the West Chowder.”
Below is a list of the best of the west chowder contenders and their sustainable seafood choices
Chef Art Gonzales from Roe Restaurant highlighted sea urchin and California spot prawns.
Chef Brian Hirsty of Bluewater Grill featured clawless California spiny lobster.
How are you gearing up for some spring time fun? We have listed some of our favorite upcoming events this month to help you swing into Spring the right way. From dancing under the sea stars to an incredible ocean adventure and a sustainable seafood festival, there’s plenty of action to keep you moving this month.
>> Start the month off with a night under the sea stars on March 1! Join the Aquarium of the Pacific for their annual Noche de Estrellas for live Latin music, dancing, dinner, underwater dive shows and more.
>> It’s celebration time! March 1-3 the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium celebrates its 10 year anniversary. The celebration is happening all weekend long, so be sure to be a part of the fun with Heal the Bay, Aquarium staff and volunteers for this exciting benchmark. There’ll even be birthday cake and ice cream for those of you with a sweet tooth!
>> Learn about the ocean’s most feared predator in a three part series of lectures from an underwater cinematographer on March 5, 7 & 13. There will also be a shark exhibit titled “Sharks: The Beauty of the Ocean Predator” through May for you to enjoy at the Aquarium of the Pacific.
>> Love Chowdah? Seafood for the Future is hosting a Best of the West ChowderfestMarch 9 to celebrate sustainable seafood and enjoy one-of-a-kind chowders cooked with local California seafood. FCEC will be attending this event, so don’t miss out on this one!
>> Aquarium of the Pacific celebrates divers on March 23 at their 12th annual Divers Day. Take a look at live dive demonstrations, meet local organizations related to the sport and science of diving, and learn how to get involved with dive related organizations and volunteer opportunities to protect the ocean and marine life we all love.
More information about these events and others are on our FCEC calendar.
Where will you be this month? Share with us below!
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!
Another month brings another roundup. Here are a few events that you could enjoy with your family and friends.
Get To Know Marine Life
»The Aquarium of the Pacific hosts FREE Shark Lagoon Nights on Friday evenings. Visitors can get up close with bamboo sharks and see larger sharks in the Shark Lagoon. The first Shark Lagoon Night for this month is March 4.
»Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is also hosting a Grunion watch on the evening of March 7. Attend a program at the Aquarium auditorium and then head down to the beach to watch these silvery fish come up to spawn.
»Starting March 7, Heal the Bay will be running training sessions for its newest volunteer program: MPA Watch. Become one of the first volunteers to help monitor Southern California’s new Marine Protected Areas by attending classroom and field training sessions.
»Interested in volunteering for Heal the Bay’s other programs? Attend a Volunteer Orientation on March 14 to learn more about the organization.
»The first annual Best of the West Chowderfest is coming to the Aquarium of the Pacific to celebrate Sustainable Seafood Day on March 12. Watch cooking demonstrations, take home some recipes (think seafood chowder with fennel, lemongrass, ginger, roasted tomatoes, carrot, citrus and double smoked bacon) and learn about sustainable seafood from a variety of experts; these activities are all sponsored by Seafood for the Future.
»On March 27, Seafood for the Future is offering a second dose of sustainable seafood with a Taste of Asia. Try out traditional dishes from East and Southeast Asian countries and learn how to prepare them with sustainable seafood. The event will also feature performances by drummers, contemporary dance crews and traditional dancers.
As always, other interesting community events are on our FCEC calendar.
The ratings are color-coded like a stoplight: red means the species is not caught sustainably, yellow means there may be some issues, while green is your best choice for sustainability.
Blogger Lauren from Sensei Talks, who writes about health and wellness, explains that Whole Foods gives a product the green label if the supplying fishery keeps the species’ population abundant and uses catching methods that do not harm natural habitats or other marine life.
Although Whole Foods currently carries red-labeled products, it plans to phase them out by Earth Day 2013.
You can watch a video introducing the store’s new program below.
Our dinner choices matter, according to Dave Anderson, a marine biologist at Seafood for the Future, a program at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. Learn how you can make a difference by being conscientious of what fish you order at your favorite restaurant, among other things. Check out a video showing delicious ways of preparing sustainable seafood.
FCEC: So Dave, tell us a little about Seafood for the Future. What is it exactly? What’s the organization’s mission?
Dave Anderson: Seafood for the Future is a non-profit program of the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California. We promote sustainable seafood practices among restaurants, wholesalers and distributors. Our goal is to connect the public with healthy, sustainable seafood options. The seafood we choose, if sold at a local restaurant, is marked with our logo of approval so that better choices can be more easily recognized. When a consumer chooses this item, not only will they be ordering the best eco-friendly seafood, they’ll also receive a free ticket to the Aquarium of the Pacific.
FCEC: How many restaurants are you currently working with?
Dave Anderson: Currently we work with 75 restaurants and 12 distributors from Santa Barbara all the way down to San Diego. But those numbers are ever-growing.
FCEC: Why should people care about whether or not they are eating “sustainable” fish?
Dave Anderson: In terms of environmental sustainability, eating the fish we pick helps to better manage our natural resources, which in some cases are in rapid decline. In addition to this, fish resources that are properly managed are often healthier for people to eat. So when we engage chefs directly we are helping to improve their practices: from purchases to preparation, and ultimately the quality of their menus improves.
From right to left, Andrew Gruel and Dave Anderson.
FCEC: How can one’s individual food choices make a positive impact?
Dave Anderson: One’s food choices, especially in the case of seafood, can have an immediate and direct impact, not only for sustainability, but for the entire market place. When sustainable seafood is in high demand, chefs are more likely to make sure to carry such products.
About 80% of our seafood is imported, much of this seafood comes from areas in the world that do not have the same environmental safeguards as the United States. So if their production and harvesting practices are harmful, we aren’t likely to know about it. But when we eat sustainable seafood we ensure that the fishing practices meet our requirements.
FCEC: What are some of the fish that people should look to purchase?
Dave Anderson: Seafood from Alaska, wild Pacific salmon is an easy one to remember. Their stocks are quite healthy up there. Some other easy ones are sardines and mackerel – both of which reproduce fast, making them more environmentally sustainable.
FCEC: What are a few things that are having the greatest impact on threatened fish populations?
Dave Anderson: Two things: fishing pressure and habitat decline. The latter happens with overdevelopment and immediate pressures on the eco-system, such as oil spills.
FCEC: How can people further educate themselves about these issues?
Dave Anderson: First and foremost, people need to pay attention to what it is they are eating. Awareness on every level will help. Once people are aware of where their food comes from, what it is exactly, then they are more likely to make better, healthier food choices. This is where Seafood for the Future and FCEC overlap and seek to achieve the same goal: helping people make better, healthier fish consumption choices.