Thursday, March 26, 2015

Thursday Sips & Nibbles

I am back again with a new edition of Thursday Sips & Nibbles, my regular column where I highlight some interesting, upcoming food & drink events.. **********************************************************
1)  Tavern Road will soon be turning two years old and it's time to celebrate. On Tuesday, March 31, starting at ^:30pm, the restaurant is throwing a birthday bash, complete with guest chefs, a six-course menu and an after party (which starts at 11pm).

A few of the highlights of Chef Louis DiBiccari's street food inspired menu include:
--Grilled chicken and black truffle skewers with potato and shallots
--Spicy raw beef lettuce wrap with chili-lime spicy peanuts
--Vegetarian beans and puffed rice with fried chickpea vermicelli and chutney, finished with steamed and fried sausage

Guest Chefs:
Ashley Abodeely of NoMad Hotel, NYC
Chris Gould of Central Provisions, Portland ME
Matthew Gaudet of West Bridge, Cambridge
Alex Crabb of ASTA, Boston
Jiho Kim of The Modern, NYC

Cost: $85 per person; tickets available for purchase on Eventbrite

2) Bob’s Clam Hut is hitting the road, leaving Kittery’s US 1 for One Kendall Square in their first-ever pop-up event at Belly Wine Bar in Cambridge. Belly’s patio will be transformed into a Cambridge-style clam shack experience with Bob’s serving up seafood favorites fresh out of the fryer alongside wine selections from Belly’s Liz Vilardi (a snappy summer white and the 2015 debut of a rare Txakoli) and Narragansett Beer’s summer brews.

Ticket includes the choice of Bob’s Clam Roll, Oyster Roll or Lobster Roll and one of these cold adult beverages
· Narragansett Summer Ale
· Haut Marine Côtes de Gascogne
· Trabanco Astirian Cider

Available for purchase:
· Clam Roll - $14
· Oyster Roll - $14
· Lobster Roll - $14
· Hand Breaded Onion Rings - $6
· Clam Chowder - $6
· Trabanco Astirian Cider - $6/glass
· Haut Marine Cotes de Gascogne - $7/glass
· Narragansett Summer Ale - $5/can
· Ameztoi Txakolina Rosado (2015 season debut!) - $13/pint
· Maine Beer Co. Peeper Ale - $8/pint

WHEN: Thursday, April 30, 5pm-9pm. This is a rain or shine event.
PRICE: $19/person includes choice of Bob’s Roll (Clam Roll, Oyster Roll, Lobster Roll) along with choice of glass of wine, cider or beer; additional food and drink available a la carte. Please remember to tip your server.

3)  On April 4, at 2pm, Brass Union will host the fifth annual Music vs. Cancer event to benefit the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. For the first time, Brass Union will feature live music entertainment provided by B3 Kings, a Boston-bred funk and jazz band, in addition to other acts and deejays. Brass Union will dish out complimentary appetizers and there will be a silent action, door prize and a 50/50 raffle. For those looking to get their game on, there will be a charity shuffleboard tournament.

Brass Union’s Music Curator, Jeff Wallace, will be spearheading the fundraiser. Wallace’s mother, Eileen, is a breast cancer survivor who has been cancer-free for 11 years. A cause close to everyone’s hearts, the donations will help supplement Eileen’s fundraising initiatives for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute as she prepares to run her 6th Boston Marathon.

COST: $10 onsite donation to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

4) On Wednesday, April 15, at 7pm, guests will take a virtual culinary wine tour of Argentina at Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro’s spring wine dinner. Designed to both educate and entertain, Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro’s (BHHB) wine dinners are aimed at individuals of all experience levels. This event is about “wonderful wines, creative food and good friends,” says Cecilia Rait, proprietress and wine director of the BHHB.

Beginning at 7pm, diners are invited to visit all four regions without leaving the comfort of their seats. Cecilia and Tracy Burgis of M.S. Walker act as virtual tour guides, moving from region to region expanding the history, curiosities and nuances of each selection. During this educational dinner guests will sample wines from regions across Argentina. In addition to the wines, the dinner will showcase the culinary artistry of BHHB’s Executive Chef Lucas Sousa, whose dishes are designed to complement each featured wine.

This intimate adventure is set in communal seating to encourage conversation, laughter and fun. For $65 per person (tax and gratuity not included), guests are treated to four wines, a four-course dinner and Cecilia's and Tracy's good cheer, humor and expertise. Reservations are encouraged as the event will sell out fast.

COST: $65 Per Person (tax and gratuity not included),
Reservations are necessary. Please call 617-723-7575.

5) Pastoral Chef/Owner Todd Winer invites guests to learn authentic Italian cooking techniques during his Todd Teaches cooking classes which will take place monthly on designated Sundays.

The next Todd Teaches Sunday School class in April will take place on Sunday, April 19 from 4pm- 5:30pm and the first theme is Meatball Madness. Students will learn the basics behind making meatballs. The class is $40 per person and includes wine, samples of the finished dishes, and recipe cards to take home. Space is limited and can be reserved by logging onto

Monthly classes will take place on select Sundays and upcoming themes include:
--Cooking With Mama- May 10th
--Vegetables Steal the Show- June 14th
--Fish Feast- Italian fish prepared in Neapolitan style
--Knife Skills- how to properly carve poultry, filet fish, chopping vegetables
--Italian Casseroles- Learn how to make Lasagna, Mac and Cheese & Eggplant Parmesan

For more information and reservations, please call (617) 345-0005 or visit

6) Bergamot Chefs Keith Pooler and Dan Bazzinotti along with Beverage Director Kai Gagnon and GM Servio Garcia celebrate Bergamot’s five year anniversary by bringing back the opening menu for two weeks. You can enjoy a prix-fixe format with three courses for $44 which includes a selection of an appetizer, entrée and dessert from the original menu when Bergamot debuted on April 1, 2010. The two week period starts April 1, 2015 and continues to April 15.

The original menu includes:
Sunchoke Bisque
Duck, Duck, Duck
Fresh Sardines
Pea Green Salad
Baby Roasted Beets
Tuna Carpaccio
Pan-Seared Quail
Chilled Maine Shrimp Salad
Pan-Seared Monkfish Medallions
Roasted Lamb Loin
Egg-Battered East Coast Halibut
Braised Rabbit Leg
Pork Tenderloin
Grilled Flat Iron Steak
Pan-Seared Sea Scallops
Herb Roasted Giannone Chicken
Meyer Lemon Steamed Pudding
Pistachio Baklava
Carrot Cake
Guajillo Chili Chocolate Pave

For reservations, please call 617-576-7700.

7) Since 2009, Alpine Restaurant Group has been an integral part of Davis Square with three restaurants that put a playful, contemporary spin on global flavors. This spring, Posto, The Painted Burro and Rosebud American Kitchen & Bar will extend their influence beyond their dining rooms and into guests’ kitchens with monthly classes teaching how to recreate signature menu items from each restaurant at home. The interactive classes offer attendees of all skill levels a unique peek inside some of Davis’ top restaurants and the opportunity to learn firsthand from Joe Cassinelli, Alpine Restaurant Group’s Founder and Executive Chef of The Painted Burro and Posto, and John Delpha, Chef/Partner of Rosebud, while spending a Saturday afternoon cooking (and eating) up a storm.

The topics include:

Derby-Day Eats at Rosebud American Kitchen & Bar
April 25 at 3PM, $55
As the unofficial kickoff to spring, the Kentucky Derby not only means oversized hats and racehorses, but a reason to bust out the grill and Julep cups for al fresco celebrating. To help ease the transition from winter stews to smoked meats, John Delpha will give guests an in-depth lesson on proper brining procedures and how to make the perfect smoked pork chops at home. All followed by a well-deserved demo on building a classic Mint Julep – a seasonal must-have for backyard cookouts and Derby-themed celebrations.

Festive Summer Dishes at The Painted Burro
May 16 at 3PM, $55
Joe Cassinelli will transport guests to the Mexican border, no passports required, with interactive instruction on crafting superb guacamole, salsa, fresh tortillas and fish tacos – the perfect way to prep guests for a Memorial Day weekend bash. After taking the heat in the kitchen, guests will drink in a lesson on mixing the Burro’s signature margaritas at-home.

Summer Entertaining Basics at Posto
June 20 at 3PM, $55
Italian hospitality comes to Davis Square as Joe Cassinelli leads guests through an engaging class covering simple summer dishes that are perfect for attendees’ next soiree. The class will focus on shareable dishes like traditional bruschetta, wood-fired pizzas and, of course, batched sangria.

BBQ 101 at Rosebud American Kitchen & Bar
July 18 at 3PM, $55
With backyard cookout season in full-swing, John Delpha will provide guests a hands-on lesson covering all things BBQ – from the basics of grill maintenance to proper meat prep and more. Guests will also learn how to grill up the perfect flatbread and concoct a refreshing Blackberry Bourbon Smash – sure to be a hit at their next cookout.

Holding on to the Flavors of Summer at The Painted Burro
August 22, 2015, 3PM, $55
With summer coming to a close, Joe Cassinelli will help guests savor the remainders of the season by teaching them to recreate the restaurant’s ceviches and whole fish Veracruzana at home. A tutorial on Paloma cocktails – a zippy blend of grapefruit and tequila – caps off the late-summer feast.

TICKETS: Classes can be purchased a la carte for $55 or in a package of two ($100), three ($150), four ($200) or all five ($250), available at
INFO: For more information, call 617-776-0005.

8) Starting April 1st, Chef Louie DiBiccari’s internationally inspired TR Street Foods concept will cross the border from annexed fast-casual space to the restaurant’s main dining room. The new dinner menu is dominated by playful yet sophisticated plates that riff on classic street food flavors. Prepared with finesse and thoughtfully presented, these distinctive dishes are meant to be shared with friends and best paired with cocktails created especially for the occasion.

Menu highlights include:
· Porchetta Flatbread with broccolini, charmoula, fried egg ($12)
· TR Hot Dog with French’s mustard, shaved onion, relish ($10)
· Lamb Meatball Shwarma, Arugula, Cucumber, Yogurt, Harissa ($16)
· Crab Dumplings, Ramen Broth, Mushrooms, Scallions ($14)

WHEN: April 1st – April 30
COST: Vegetable: $5 to $12; Fish: $6-$22; Meat: $8-$24

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

All About The Seafood Expo North America 2015

Last week, for three days, I donned my SCUBA gear and journeyed through the waters of the Seafood Expo North America (SENA). Singing the Fish Heads song, I waded down aisle after aisle, listening to the tales of the fish, sampling the abundant bounty of the sea. And during that time, and for the last week, I've been penning the stories I have discovered, sharing interesting information about the Seafood Expo. It's been fun.

In addition, the 5th Annual iPura Tweet & Blogfest with Triple Pundit at #SENA15 is winding down, and was supposed to end at midnight on March 24, though it was extended for one more day. This is a special contest for local bloggers in which they compete to offer the "Best Overall Coverage" of the Seafood Expo. An impartial third party judges the contest and the top prize is a hefty $1000.

As an added bonus this year, several of the best blogger articles will be featured on Triple Pundit, a leading website on ethical, sustainable and profitable business practices. Their philosophy is based on the triple bottom line of People, Planet & Profit, believing that "economy, environment and society are inseparably related and an understanding of all three is critical to long term profitability."

As the reigning champion, I am trying to retain my crown, to win this contest for the third time in a row, and continue to be known as the Fish Head Whisperer. Each year, I have stepped up my game, trying to surpass my prior year's coverage. Last year, I wrote 20 articles about the Seafood Expo and this year I topped that amount with 22 articles. Many thanks go to iPura and Triple Pundit,for holding this contest and for their support of local bloggers and the power of social media.

Over the last five years, this contest has led to a multitude of articles about SENA, far more than the local print media has done. It has also presented a diversity of voices about SENA, offering different viewpoints and covering angles that others may not have touched upon. Many of these articles are directed to the average consumer, those who we need to eat more seafood, so they present much value.

The Seafood Expo is one of the highlights of my year, and it provides ample fodder for story ideas year round. I would cover the Seafood Show even if the contest did not exist, but the contest provides some added incentive. Five years ago, during the first Blogfest, I wrote four articles about the Seafood Expo and that was sufficient to win the grand prize. However, as the years have passed, and the competition has increased, I have worked even harder at my coverage of the Expo. This year, you can read about my experiences at this fascinating three-day show in twenty-two articles. As a benefit for my readers, I am compiling links to all of my SENA articles into a single repository, this post.

If you have any questions about the Seafood Expo, feel free to add them to the comments or email me.

Here is the list of my SENA posts:

SENA15: Seafood Nutrition Partnership & Eating Heart Healthy
SENA15: Rant--Seafood Expo For The Public
SENA15: Master Class--Canada’s Organic Blue Mussels 
SENA15: Sunburst Trout Farms Jerky & Caviar 
SENA15: The Changing Landscape of Sustainable Seafood 
SENA15: Inupiat,Kotzebue & Sheefish
SENA15: Marine Stewardship Council Update
SENA15: Twelve Things You Should Know
SENA15: 2 Billion People Are Coming To Dinner, Let's Feed Them Fish!
SENA15: Blue North and Humane Harvest Initiative
SENA15: Maine Dayboat Scallops & Merroir
SENA15:  Ocean Executive & Seafood Trading Platform
SENA15: Fish Fun & Photos
SENA15: How To Cook Seafood
SENA15: Food of Interest
SENA15: Rant--Understanding the Seafood Retail Consumer
SENA15: Saucy Fish--Sustainable, Easy To Cook & Inexpensive
SENA15: Combating IUU Fishing & Seafood Fraud
SENA15: Paiche, the "Cod Of The Amazon"
SENA15: The Evolution Of Seafood Sustainability
SENA15: Aquaculture Stewardship Council Update 
SENA15: Final Ponderings

Will you attend the Seafood Expo North America in 2016? I hope to be there once again and would like to see some of my readers there too. I also hope to see even more bloggers there, spreading fish tales to all of their readers.

SENA15: Final Ponderings

The sea can bind us to her many moods, whispering to us by the subtle token of a shadow or a gleam upon the waves, and hinting in these ways of her mournfulness or rejoicing. Always she is remembering old things, and these memories, though we may not grasp them, are imparted to us, so that we share her gaiety or remorse.”
--H.P. Lovecraft

It's time to wind down my coverage of the Seafood Expo North America, though I assure you that I will continue to write about seafood issues, including matters that inspired by what I learned or discovered at the Expo. Every Tuesday, you can look forward to a new seafood-related post on my blog. And if there is a seafood issue you would like to see me cover, drop me a line and I'll see what I can do.

For this last post about SENA, I wanted to raise some final questions and issues about seafood matters, thoughts which have come to mind this past week. Each of those points is worthy of a full post, but time is needed for the ideas to percolate and come to fruition. Or additional research is needed. Some of these thoughts touch on important themes at the Expo, as well as potential themes for the future. I would love for these final ponderings to develop into conversations and I welcome any and all comments about these matters.

1. What is missing at most of the conference sessions at SENA is a difference of opinion. The panels often largely consist of like-minded individuals, so there is little disagreement or debate. We need more conflict on some of these panels, to present differing viewpoints and see how each side deals with that conflict. It would be beneficial to see how the panelists handle criticism of their positions, which could better point out the strengths and weaknesses of their points. Without such conflict, you are sometimes presented with a one-sided position, which potentially could be affected by bias. I'm sure such debates would be very popular at SENA. Sometimes, the Q&A after a panel session raises some conflict, but by then so much has already been presented without disagreement. Wouldn't you like to see a heated debate on the future of aquaculture or the sustainability of tuna?

2.  I was once again disappointed to see that the two local newspapers, the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald, have each published but a single article about the Seafood Expo, and both concentrated on the same issue, the Presidential Task Force on IUU & Seafood Fraud. Sure, that was a worthy, international story but there are hundreds of other stories which could have been found at SENA. Why do these newspapers choose to ignore all of those other stories? They could have done an entire week of seafood-related stories. Locally, if you want stories about SENA, you have to seek out the passionate bloggers who have been covering the event for a number of years. They have written many dozens of stories about the Seafood Expo, doing a far better job than the local print media. More attention should be paid to these dedicated writers who are sharing the seafood stories of SENA.

3. Sustainable Farmed Bluefin Tuna? That is the claim of True World Foods which presents their Kai Oh Maguro, the "King of Ocean Tuna." I've read about Japanese farmed Bluefin before, though I haven't explored it in the last couple years. From a recent, brief scan of some of the available information, it appears that changes have occurred in the industry in a quest to be sustainable. This is a topic I need to research further, to see what has changed in recent years. I tasted some of their farmed tuna at SENA and it was quite delicious, silky smooth and with a meaty texture. I'll be following up on this matter so you can look forward to a post in the near future. Bluefin Tuna is a hot button issue so this will be a fascinating matter.

4. Located at the back of the main exhibition hall of SENA, you will find much of the seafood processing companies, and I think that section is largely ignored when many people seek seafood tales at the Expo. Many don't seem to realize the role processing plays in the seafood industry, such as how it interacts with sustainability and seafood fraud. Did you know that some seafood that is harvested in the U.S. is actually sent overseas to be processed before returning to the U.S.? Proper processing can provide more edible meat from seafood, increasing yields and helping sustainability. For example, a poorly processed fish might offer only 20 pounds of meat while more skilled processing could carve out 40 pounds of meat. More stories about seafood processing are needed, to explore how they affect the larger issues.

5. Does Asia favor frozen seafood far more than the rest of the world? At SENA, the majority of displays of frozen seafood seem to have been at the Asian booths. A number of Asian booths, such as the Japanese pavilion, sampled out some of their frozen products. At a seminar concerning mussels, it was noted that their fresh mussels were sold mainly in North American while their frozen mussels were sold primarily in Asia. I don't know the answer to this question, but what I found has made me curious to explore the matter further. If it is true, I would like to understand the reasons behind it. Is it a cultural matter? Or merely just a coincidence?

6. One of my favorite foods at SENA was a Kelp Smoothie, which was tasty and fruity, and mot anyone would have enjoyed too. You never would have known it contained Kelp. This year, there were 16 exhibitors of sea vegetables, 2 more than last year, so there has been growth in this area. However, I remain puzzled why seaweed and algae products don't receive more attention. I don't recall any recent conference sessions that deal with them, and I don't think there was ever a Master Class on seaweed. The Asian booths seem to most often showcase seaweed and algae products, especially laver snacks. It is sustainable and nutritious, and land-based vegetables are extremely popular, so why don't sea veggies get enough respect? I want to know.

Don’t expect to catch big fishes from small rivulets.”
--French saying

SENA15: Aquaculture Stewardship Council Update

Each year at Seafood Expo North America (SENA), a few of the major third-party sustainable seafood certification organizations provide updates on their progress during the past year. I've already written about the updates from the Marine Stewardship Council, which certifies wild fisheries. Now it is time to deal with farmed fish.and obtain an update from the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC).

The ASC is an independent, not-for-profit organization that certifies "responsible" seafood farms, processors and distributors worldwide. Founded in 2010 by the WWF and Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), and based in the Netherlands, the ASC wants to be a leader in the certification of responsible aquaculture. Rather than use the term "sustainable," they have chosen to use "responsible" and believe that consumers can better understand that term, which seems to make sense. They also think "sustainable" doesn't really fit certain aspects of their standards. This is another part of the evolution of seafood sustainability.

The panel was led by CEO Chris Ninnes who presented some of the ASC's past year's accomplishments. Last year, the ASC certified 75 farms, in 10 countries, for a total of 955 products. This year, there are now 127 certified farms, a growth over over 50 farms, and there are over 65 farms in the assessment process. The number of their certified products has also doubled this year, to over 2000 products. This significant growth is indicative of the great strides being made in aquaculture. It also shows substantial support for the work and mission of the ASC. Let us hope that such growth continues in the years to come.  

A short preview of a movie, Tranforming Aquaculture in the State of Rio de Janeiro, was shown, telling the story of how 30 aquaculture operations in and around Rio de Janeiro were seeking ASC certification before the 2016 Summer Olympics. This could draw more attention, to a worldwide audience, to the benefits of sustainable aquaculture. More good news.

Earlier this year, Marine Harvest Canada became the first salmon farm in North America to receive certification from the ASC. Earlier this month, Bakkafrost also became the first certified salmon farm in the Faroe Islands. There are currently 30 certified salmon farms, with another 21 in assessment. In addition, the ASC has now certified their first scallop farms, a group of five farms in Peru owned by AquaPesca Group.

I'm pleased to see so much positive news coming from the ASC and it can only benefit the overall cause of aquaculture. Aquaculture gets plenty of bad press from the media so it is satisfying to read about success stories. And as Chef Rick Moonen said, we need to celebrate these successes, to showcase and highlight the best examples of the seafood industry. We don't do enough to celebrate their successes so we must make the effort to do so.

SENA15: The Evolution Of Seafood Sustainability

"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever."
--Jacques Yves Cousteau

While walking down the many aisles of the Seafood Expo North America , enjoying seafood samples, you cannot fail to notice all the attention given to sustainability. I've already mentioned the prevalence of seafood sustainability at the Expo. Many of the exhibitors tout the sustainability of their products, though, in the darker corners of the hall, there are items which are more questionable, such as Shark Fin, though fortunately only a single exhibitor had that item. Each year, SENA seems to become more an more sustainable.

Besides the seafood purveyors, you'll also find organizations devoted to sustainable issues, such as Aquaculture Stewardship CouncilCleanFishFish Choice, Global G.A.P.Marine Stewardship CouncilMonterey Bay AquariumSeaweb, Trace Register and others. These groups are a wealth of information concerning seafood sustainability, and are more than willing to share all they know. Besides the exhibitors, there was also a Seafood Sustainability track in the conference sessions, presenting five different seminars (2 less than last year) on sustainability-related issues.

Over the last five years, during my most intense immersions into the Expo, there has been a clear evolution in seafood sustainability, a constant move forward. This is not a new evolution and has been occurring ever since the idea of seafood sustainability was first broached. In some ways, the evolution of seafood sustainability has been quicker and more significant than that occurring in any other food industry. For example, early aquaculture saw serious problems, such as pollution and disease, yet many of those problems have been resolved. The problems of factory farms that raise chickens, pigs and cows, have not been addressed as quickly or as successfully as aquaculture.

The relative rapid evolution of seafood sustainability has unfortunately been an obstacle in some regards to the average consumer. Due to the complexities of sustainability, and its rapid changes, consumers get overwhelmed, failing to properly understand the issues. Instead, they often tend to rely on sensationalist media reports, usually outdated, mentioning the dangers of seafood. Consumer education though is starting to be addressed, as well as the development of ideas which will make it much easier for consumers to understand what is most important. As my own contribution to correcting the misconceptions of consumers, I want to address some of the key points of the sustainability issue as it presently stands, pointing our some of its evolution as well.

1. Seafood sustainability is vital.
This is a fact that has not changed over the years. If anything, it has become stronger as new studies are conducted. As I mentioned in a previous post, by the mid-2040s, it is projected that the world population will grow from 7 to 9 billion, requiring us to double our food supply. The UN also reported that 90% of wild fisheries are being harvested at their sustainable limit. Without seafood, we won't be able to feed the world's growing population. In addition, the extinction of species and the destruction of their environment could have cataclysmic consequences for us all. Sustainability in all industries is a vital element, and the seafood industry is definitely not an exception. Consumers need to consume sustainable seafood, and contribute to our future. There is no valid argument that sustainable seafood is unnecessary.  

2. Seafood sustainability still isn't a major consumer concern.
Despite the vital nature of seafood sustainability, it still is not a high priority for the majority of consumers. Various seafood purveyors have indicated to me that their customers rarely ask about sustainability. Other seafood articles have repeated this sentiment, indicating that consumers care far more about cost, ease of prep and taste than sustainability. However, those same consumers, in other studies, indicate that they equate sustainability to quality, but they just are not motivated sufficiently to opt only for sustainable seafood.

What helps to drive sustainability in the marketplace is that there is a small yet vocal and powerful minority of consumers who want seafood sustainability. They are the ones who demand to know the source of the seafood they purchase, who question their restaurant servers about sourcing. Retailers are listening to these people, even though they are a minority, as they understand that the number of consumers seeking sustainable seafood is growing, even if it is slow. They see the future, knowing that the consumer base is evolving, getting more educated about these issues. Hopefully, in the near future, a majority of consumers will be concerned about sustainability.

3. Seafood sustainability isn't an either/or issue.
No one is 100% sustainable, and as Michael Tlusty, the Director of Ocean Sustainability Science at the New England Aquarium, saidanyone claiming otherwise is merely ego. Sustainability is a journey, and everyone falls somewhere on the spectrum, hopefully moving closer to an ideal destination. At the Marine Stewardship Council meeting, it was noted that even when their fisheries received sustainable certification, they continued to work towards improving their practices, trying to become even more sustainable. Every seafood-related organization needs to constantly endeavor to better themselves, to improve any aspect which is less than perfect, even if they will never reach that ideal goal.

Sustainability is often about trade-offs, a balancing of competing interests. For example, though the Maine lobster fishery is considered sustainable, it is also an industry that is very energy intensive, far more than many other types of fisheries. The industry needs improvement, despite being sustainable in one sense. Consumers must learn not to be too judgmental about seafood sustainability, and understand that no one is perfect, and those dedicated to working hard towards sustainability deserve their support.

4. Seafood sustainability is a complex issue.
In understanding something, starting with its definition is often a good beginning. With sustainability though, there is no single, agreed upon definition. Tania Taranovski, the Director of Sustainable Seafood Program at the New England Aquarium, previously noted that with sustainability, "we are trying to do too much with one word," over simplifying a very complex issue. As such there has been an evolution for some away from that term, choosing to refer to it instead as "responsibly sourced" seafood. This growing movement could potentially be the wave of the future.

Determining whether seafood is sustainable or not depends upon a plethora of questions, including where the seafood was harvested, how it was harvested, who harvested it, the health of the specific fishery, and so much more. Few consumers have the inclination to ask their local seafood purveyor or restaurant the necessary questions to determine the sustainability level of the seafood they wish to purchase. Fortunately, the evolution of seafood sustainability has seem some potential solutions to this consumer confusion.

5. Seafood sustainability is about trust. 
To combat consumer confusion about seafood sustainability, consumers need to rely on trust, to allow other to indicate which seafood is sustainable. One important way to provide such information is through third party certifications, such as that of the Marine Stewardship Council and Aquaculture Stewardship Council.  Such organizations ask the necessary questions, and take it further through a thorough examination of the issues, ensuring the sustainable of any fishery they choose to certify. For consumers, all they have to do then is to look for a certification label or logo on their seafood. It couldn't be much easier. However, consumers must first trust these organizations,

That element of trust extends to other seafood companies, restaurants, markets or more. Consumers need to rely upon trusted people to determine what is sustainable seafood. I have often heard chefs tell me that the first step for consumers to do is to find a trusted seafood purveyor. Consumers can rely upon some elements of the media, friends, and word of mouth to help determine who is worthy of their trust. I have previously written about seafood businesses which I believe are worthy of your trust. Having that trust makes the issue of seafood sustainability much easier for consumers.

6. Aquaculture is the future of seafood sustainability.
Some consumers have a knee-jerk reaction against aquaculture. It is a strange double standard though as they might refuse to eat farmed salmon but will gladly partake of factory farm chicken or pork, both which are far more questionable than farmed salmon. Consumers have been deluged with negative media depictions of farmed farm, and don't understand the realities. During the last forty or so years, aquaculture has made significant strides in technology and progress, and continues to do so all the time. Many of the criticisms lodged against aquaculture are no longer valid, yet those criticisms continue to circulate.

Approximately 50% of the seafood in the world now comes from aquaculture, and that percentage is likely to grow in time. As I mentioned earlier, our population is growing and the only way we can feed the additional billions will likely be through additional aquaculture. Land based agriculture already uses 70% of our water supply and 30%-40% of our land, so there is little room, if any, for growth. As 90% of our wild fisheries are at their peak, there is little room for growth there either. Aquaculture though is not at its peak, and its potential is quite higher. Consumers need to understand that aquaculture can be sustainable, that it constantly improves, and that it is necessary to feed future generations.

7. Seafood sustainability is about diversity of species. 
Most Americans are boring. Consider that though there are more than 100 seafood species available in U.S. markets, a mere 6 species account for 91% of the seafood consumed here. There is an abundant bounty of available seafood species, but many Americans won't venture out to try all of these delicious and interesting species. By consuming such a small number of species, we put undue pressures on the stocks of those fish, causing sustainability problems. It's easy to resolve this problem, by Americans simply expanding their palates and eating other, less common species.

You might have heard about "trash fish," though some in the seafood industry cringe at that term, and it refers to those species which Americans rarely eat, and which fishermen find difficult to sell. However, many of those species are delicious, and people would enjoy them only if they gave them a chance. I've written before about a local effort, Red's Best Seafood, to make those less common fish available to consumers. As I walked the aisles of SENA, I saw a wide variety of seafood which will end up on local store shelves and on restaurant menus, so there is hope that Americans can break out of their boring seafood eating habits. You should also check out this new article in the Wall Street Journal about this very issue.

8. Seafood sustainability should include a social element. 
Initially,seafood sustainability was primarily about the fish and their environment, the water. The concern was whether there were sufficient stocks of a particular fish, or whether fishing gear was damaging the bottom of the sea. As this type of sustainability became more prevalent. as it started becoming more commonplace in the marketplace, people started to ask whether there was more to sustainability. Some sought a new competitive edge while others were truly concerned about expanding the scope of sustainability.  

Now, more and more seafood organizations are talking about sustainability and social issues, especially after all of the publicity last year from the Thailand scandal concerning slavery and the seafood industry. Some third party certification bodies, such as Aquaculture Stewardship Councilhave social issues within their sustainability criteria. In time, it is very likely that all of these certification groups will include social criteria. It's no longer sufficient to care just about the fish and the oceans, but you need to be concerned about the people involved too.

Besides extreme cases like those of Thailand, there also needs to be a concern for local fishing communities and their economic well being. There needs to be a balancing act between strict fishing regulations and protecting the livelihood of fishermen. It is far from an easy task and the important point is that we need to consider these social issues in seafood sustainability discussions.

I'm sure that at next year's SENA, I'll see a further evolution of the issue of seafood sustainability. There will be more positive change, more efforts to resolve existing problems. I'll be there to learn what has changed, and what the future holds. Will you be there too?

There are fish in the sea better than have ever been caught.”
--Irish saying