Michael Pollan tweeted last week about how the more humanely a fish is killed, the better it tastes. The facts that humanely treated meat tastes better and that wild fish is the healthiest protein are well established. It’s just that fish are not usually thought of in that way, in spite of recent scientific studies cataloging fish communication. The art of sushi in Japan revolves around the manner in which fish are killed, in the strong belief that in dying properly fish taste better.
A great example of this is with our Coho Salmon. Sea to Table’s Sitka, AK friend John Bahrt (spot prawn trapper extraordinaire) introduced us to his neighbor Captain Austin Sollars. He hook and line trolls coho on his F/V Jani K. As soon as they come out of the water he carefully hand dresses and pressure bleeds them before blast freezing right on board. The pristine fish end up on a freezer barge to Seattle where we move them to cold storage facilities around the country. From there these incredibly delicious salmon can swim the last mile to your kitchen via low cost 3PL ground service at the lowest carbon footprint. A win for all.
There is a great deal of chatter about genetically engineered salmon, and farmed versus wild. While all aquaculture is based on the same paradigm as industrial meat production, it is true that some fish farming is less problematic than others. It is also true that aquaculture is often less environmentally damaging than factory farms, and that properly farmed fish, without antibiotics and hormones, is healthier to eat than industrial meat. But wild fish, having properly lived and died, is incomparable for both health benefits and deliciousness.
Unfortunately over 90% of all seafood consumed in the US comes from outside the US. While America’s fisheries management is the envy of the world, lots of funky things happen elsewhere. The vast majority of tuna comes from Asian waters where piracy and slavery issues add to the woes of allowing tuna populations to be sustained. Things are so out of hand that a member of the UN’s Indian Ocean Tuna Commision was forced to resign over his ownership of a fishing vessel on which a video surfaced of the execution of members of its forced crew. Nations around the world are trying to wrap around the issues of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The island nation of Palau, one of the world great tuna grounds, became the 15th nation to sign the UN’s Port State Measures Agreement. Sky Truth will begin in 2016 an “eye in the sky” application supported by Google and Oceana which will literally track fishing vessel activities in all the world’s oceans. The best way for chefs to address with these issues is to vote with your fork; eat wild domestic seafood.
All the best,
from the Dimin Family and the Sea to Table team