What’s Cooking with Sustainable Seafood?

by Sarah Henry on May 20, 2012 · 19 comments

in edible east bay magazine,food books,food businesses,food politics,recipes,seafood

Image courtesy of Edible East Bay magazine.

Just back from the Sustainable Foods Institute, a media conference that accompanies the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Cooking for Solutions events, which support the aquarium’s Seafood Watch program.

This is my second visit to this panel-based, fact-filled, food-for-thought confab, now in its 7th year exploring how the choices we make as consumers of food impact not only our own health but also the health of the land and sea.

Stories out of the conference — which features chefs, authors, restaurateurs, advocates, purveyors, scientists, and other experts in the sustainable food world — to come.

For now, I’ll leave you with a nugget from the very first panel presentation by Callum Roberts, a British marine conservation biologist and the author of the forthcoming The Ocean of Life: The Fate of Man and the Sea. Environmental crusader Rachel Carson published a pamphlet in 1943, “Food from the Sea,” advocating less waste of sea creatures and suggesting that people pick less threatened species for their supper.

Proving once again that everything old is new again: Almost sixty years later, sustainable seafood chefs, sellers, and activists are singing the same tune, albeit with different fish.

See for yourself in my most recent story for Edible East Bay magazine: “What’s Cooking with Sustainable Seafood?” Find cookbook recommendations, recipes, and advice on choosing sustainable seafood too.

You might also like:

Learning on the Half-shell: Community Supported Oysters
Give and Take: The Growing Food-Sharing Culture
Something Fishy on Your Phone


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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

sheryl May 29, 2012 at 11:55 am

I’m always so confused when buying seafood, as well as skeptical. Thanks for the tips in your article. Never would have thought to try frozen fish – always shyed away from it, for some reason.
sheryl´s last [type] ..Startling Facts on the Dangers of Being Overweight


Sarah Henry May 29, 2012 at 7:12 pm

I know what you mean, Sheryl. Some frozen fish is definitely worth shying away from. When in doubt: Ask your fishmonger for advice.


Alexandra May 29, 2012 at 11:58 am

Thanks for this update. With summer starting, here on Cape Cod we have a plethora of fish stores, and two that really adhere to sustainable quotas. Not crazy about frozen fish, so I’ll stick with supporting our local fish stores as much as possible.
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Sarah Henry May 29, 2012 at 7:13 pm

Can’t imagine, Sandy, given your location, that you’d ever have a need to even consider frozen fish. You’re in fresh, local, sustainable seafood central, right?


Brette Sember May 29, 2012 at 12:11 pm

I love the idea of a CFS. I just signed up for a chicken share and we are doing a CSA this summer too.


Sarah Henry May 29, 2012 at 7:15 pm

Community supported produce/meat/milk/seafood/artisan baked goods — great way to eat well and support local businesses in my mind.


Living Large in our Little House May 29, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Great tips in that article. I also heard this morning on the news there might be a new danger to bluefin tuna: Radiation levels from the Japanese nuclear power meltdown last year.


Sarah Henry May 29, 2012 at 7:18 pm

Thanks for the heads up, LLLH. For folks who may have missed this worrisome news:


Heather L May 29, 2012 at 6:14 pm

I love fish, but do try to stick with the most abundant ones.


Sarah Henry May 29, 2012 at 7:18 pm

Good call, Heather.


Jane Boursaw May 29, 2012 at 6:18 pm

We don’t really eat much seafood, but try to be aware of sustainability issues when we buy it at our local food co-op. One thing about buying at a co-op is that even if you don’t have time to do lots of research, you can be somewhat assured that the co-op has.
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Sarah Henry May 29, 2012 at 7:19 pm

Good point, Jane. Does the co-op provide any info about how they choose their food products (with care, I’m sure)?


Jane Boursaw May 29, 2012 at 7:39 pm

They really do. All sorts of info at the point of purchase and in the newsletter. And they’re so great about just taking time to answer questions. It’s so nice to have local people who love talking to customers!
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Jennifer Margulis May 30, 2012 at 2:35 am

I look forward to hearing more about the conference. We just had sushi last night and I was reminded both of how much I like fish and also of how little I know about choosing fish that is sustainable.
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Alisa Bowman May 31, 2012 at 6:39 am

I stopped eating meat and fish because it was so hard to find anything sustainable or to really know where any of it came from. I might, from time to time, make exceptions for salmon if only to strengthen that lobby, which helps to keep rivers clean and stop logging (which hurts fish habitat). But it just doesn’t seem like there is a sustainable or kind way to fish to me. It’s really barbaric and always seems to kill innocent bystander creatures in the process.
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MyKidsEatSquid May 31, 2012 at 3:59 pm

I’ve been wondering about sustainable fish too. My kids all-time favorite is tilapia; we had that for dinner tonight. I’ve heard that Trader Joe’s tries to get sustainable seafood, any insights on that?


Mary @ Fit and Fed July 26, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Trader Joe’s received a low passing score on the Greenpeace Seafood Retailer Scorecard. They got 4.5 out of 10, where passing level was above 4. They were rated #15 out of 20 supermarket chains.
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Mary @ Fit and Fed July 26, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Thanks for the article, I’ve heard about that Good Fish book and should pick it up. My husband and I are vegetarian except for wild Pacific salmon, but I do want to branch out a little with the seafood and experiment with some of the small fish you mention like sardines and anchovies. Here in the Seattle area we have PCC, Puget Consumer’s Co-op, which, like one of the shops you listed sells no red-list seafood. Greenpeace has ranked supermarkets on their seafood sustainability for the last five years, and PCC was the best-rated supermarket at 9 out of 10, far above Safeway and Whole Foods (7/10), which are the best-rated of the larger supermarkets. So I’d say finding a really trustworthy retailer is the easiest way to buy sustainable fish. You can see the Greenpeace ratings sheet here: http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/Global/usa/planet3/PDFs/oceans/CATO-VI-scorecard.pdf
Mary @ Fit and Fed´s last [type] ..King Salmon with Red Quinoa and Peach Cherry Compote


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