Archive for the ‘Seafood’ Category

2013

Author: Paul

Since the NRA and everyone else is currently listing their predictions and “What’s Hot” for 2013, I thought I would through a few out there. Just three in fact – you’re just leveraging your odds when you list ten. So here it goes.

1. Food Waste – Nothing new here. In fact, 2012 seemed to be the year of food waste. Everyone from the New York Times to Foodservice Equipment Supplies Magazine was writing about food waste. It’s a huge issue globally and people are starting to realize the effect it has on their pocket book and the environment. This is going to stay a strong issue for a while, and likely just get more focused and complex as the industry becomes more interested and better educated.

2. Water – There are always stories in the media about water and water shortage, but I think it is going to become a big topic this year, and not just in the foodservice industry but everywhere. For the foodservice industry it is going to be a broad issue. Rising food prices because of drought are effecting menu pricing and profit margins, aging sewer systems will start driving utility costs up, and a large push for innovative, water efficient equipment will all drive the focus on water efficiency.

3. GMOs – This isn’t a new issue, there has been a big push from the food production industry to get GMOs into the marketplace where they already are not, but became a big issue late last year as the FDA approved GM salmon for human consumption. This is going to be a tipping point for many. The potential for GM salmon to taint the wild salmon populations is going to garner opposition from a huge and diverse of collection of groups that normally have nothing to do with each other. Celebrity chefs will be climbing over the top of each other to shout their opposition to GM fish with support from commercial fishing organization, conservative hunting and fish groups, virtually everyone in Alaska, environmentalists, Native organizations, health advocates, politicians, and scientists from all over the world as this fish has the potential to effect native fish populations globally.

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A splash of recent media got me thinking about a concept that isn’t really new, but one that I think takes sustainable food to a whole new level. The idea is eating invasive species. The world is filled with disaster stories of animals moving in and overrunning a new territory. Here in the US we have various snakes in Florida, Asia Carp threatening to destroy the Great Lakes fishing industry and host of other invasive species pushing out native populations. Unfortunately, a great many of these invasive creatures are succeeding so well because they have no natural predators, and they don’t taste that good to potential predators, humans included.

After recently speaking with a biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, I learn Burmese pythons are one such inedible creature – particularly those invading the Florida Everglades. They are not inedible because of the taste or texture of the meat itself, but because samples tested by the National Park Service found unsafe levels of mercury in the snakes. Evidently, the South Florida burns its garbage, and natural weather patterns drop the pollution from the incineration into the Everglades. I’m sure the coal-fired power plants in the area are not helping either. The National Park is currently conducting tests on additional snakes to confirm the first results of mercury-tainted meat.

However, some invasive species do tempt the palate, and I believe the foodservice industry is in a great position to lead the charge in a new culinary trend. In an age of “Foodies,” how better to capitalize on the sustainability trend than serving something new, intriguing and not only environmentally friendly, but environmentally beneficial!

Some are already serving up invasive species. Restaurants in New York and Chicago have served invasive Lionfish from the Florida Keys, in fact the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has come up with an Eat Lionfish campaign to encourage restaurants to start serving the fish that is invading the Southeast and Gulf Coasts, and the Caribbean. In Asia they are finding various uses for the global warming loving jellyfish, Brits are dining on the invasive American grey squirrel, and an entrepreneurial fishery in Illinois is making gefilte fish from Asian Carp.

Mike Schafer of Schafer Fisheries in Thomson Illinois has bigger ideas than just serving up carp in restaurants. He thinks we can solve some of our world hunger and humanitarian problems like Haiti with the ugly fish. Schafer thinks processed Asian carp would make a great, portable protein source that doesn’t need to be refrigerated. The end product would be a cooked mash of fish packaged and sealed in pouches that very mobile, relatively light weight and high in calories. Right now Schafer Fisheries is processing about 12 million pounds of the carp each year, but with increased demand for the fish in Asian, a push from the state of Illinois, and the potential for a humanitarian protein source the production demand for Asian carp is likely to reach estimates of over 30 million pounds a year.

The market seems to be ready for these products. It just needs a few chefs to introduce the fine dining crowd to a new taste.

If you have served or ate Lionfish or any other invasive species, please share your experience.

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Sustainable Seafood

Author: Paul

We are honored to have Rich Boot, founder and CEO of FishChoice.com as a guest blogger this week. Fishchoice.com connects commercial seafood buyers with sustainable seafood suppliers. Rich offers some insight into serving sustainable seafood.

Is it the seller’s or the buyer’s responsibility? Actually both. Consumers need to ask where the fish they are buying comes from and how it is caught and restaurants need to make more sustainable choices available to consumers.

There are two reasons this doesn’t happen as often as it should:

1.       Chefs and consumers alike stick with the options that are most familiar to them. And often, neither one is willing to leave his or her comfort zone without a nudge. This is understandable. It’s risky for a chef to put an unfamiliar item on the menu and perhaps not sell it, and it’s risky for the diner to order something they aren’t sure they are going to enjoy eating.

2.       Sellers succeed by satisfying their customer base. If customers don’t ask questions about seafood, sellers assume that it’s not important. Yet, many customers don’t ask because they don’t know enough and don’t feel comfortable asking. Some feel that they shouldn’t be faced with unsustainable choices on menus in the first place. But will they buy an unfamiliar choice?

What’s the solution? Restaurateurs have to make the first move. Start by replacing one seafood menu item with a more sustainable one. Explain to the consumer why you think it’s important to offer more sustainable choices and what makes the new choice more sustainable.

Choose just one option at time to switch out, prepare it well, and be prepared to sell it.

Need ideas for preparing different types of seafood? Sustainable seafood chef/activist, Barton Seaver, has worked with The Blue Ocean Institute http://www.blueocean.org/food/ocean-friendly-substitutes to get the share recipes and substitution ideas with chefs all over the country.

Start by switching out overfished grouper with environmentally friendly, farmed striped bass. Here’s a recipe from Barton to get you started: http://www.blueocean.org/food/barton-seaver/recipes/striped-bass-catalan-broccoli-pine-nut-sauce. Sustainable seafood restaurant, Yankee Pier offers a Striped Bass Carpaccio with Citrus and Olives http://www.yankeepier.com/santana_row/santanarow_menus.html

Register http://www.fishchoice.com/ for FishChoice.com to find a supplier for striped bass today.

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