Spent much of last week at the Menus of Change conference at the Culinary Institute of America campus in Hyde Park, NY. A joint venture of the CIA and the Harvard School of Public Health, it is a gathering of America’s most talented chefs, nutrition and environmental scientists, farm and fisheries experts, foodservice executives, and policy makers focusing on a positive evolution of the food system.
There were two key takeaways: strong growth in plant-forward cuisine with land based proteins taking a smaller part of the plate, and a consensus that sustainable seafood is the healthiest protein for the body and the planet.
Scientists agreed that red meat is an unsustainable solution in terms of inputs, water demands, and carbon footprint for the protein needs of a world population expected to approach 10 billion by 2050. Large slabs of meat will be replaced at the center of the plate by culinarily dynamic plant dishes, with smaller portions of protein.
Nine of the top ten food trends were around health and sustainability, with seafood described as the healthiest and most sustainable choice. Another very heartening trend as NGOs that have only considered the health of fish populations in their recommendations have come to realize the three legs of the sustainability stool need include the fishermen and the traditional fishing communities they support. The major foodservice operators are also paying close attention to the dual plague of pirate fishing and seafood slavery, and the need to keep them out of their supply chains. The inclusion of Walmart in a lawsuit filed last week against four US and Thai companies, accusing them of human trafficking, is a red flag to the entire foodservice industry. Traceability continues to shout out as the approach to preventing the long opaque seafood supply chain from hiding these horrors. Don’t buy fish from strangers.
With the emphasis on plant-forward cuisine, there is a growing interest in sea vegetables. Our friend chef Andrea Reusing did a conference demonstration on seaweed preparations that was very well received. Stay tuned.
Sea to Table is excited about our growing California presence. We are now landing fish in Bodega Bay, SF’s Fishermen’s Wharf, Moss Landing, Morro Bay, Santa Barbara, and San Diego. Along with our landing docks in Oregon and Washington, west coast chefs can now have direct dock access to local species, while chefs across the country can enjoy beautiful west coast seafood.
Happy Father’s Day.
All the best,
from the Dimin Family and the Sea to Table team