What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Fri, September 07, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Tuna, the ubiquitous canned food. But, what do you really know about it? Slow Food USA member & fisherman, Jeremy Brown on Seattle’s own Albacore tuna.
Written by Jeremy Brown, Fisherman, Slow Food member and 2008 Terra Madre delegate
Albacore, Thunnus Alolonga, are the only tuna that can be sold as “white meat’. In many ways the polar opposite of the Bluefin beloved of the sushi trade and poster fish for fisheries run wild. Albacore’s ecological niche is on the fringes- they swim further, faster deeper and more scattered into cooler waters than most tunas. This makes them less vulnerable to fishing pressure, and particularly hard to catch on an industrial scale.
Older fish swim deeper in more tropical water and are principally caught on pelagic longline gear, younger fish frequent the surface waters along the sub tropical convergence zones of the world’s oceans which is where they can be caught by jigs trolled on the surface or chummed up with bait in the classic pole-and-line fisheries.
Posted on Thu, June 07, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Slow Fish, Slow Food’s campaign for sustainable fish on how to get the catch of the day every day.
Written by Slow Food International
The fresher the fish, the better, for taste and health.
Unfortunately, labels are not particularly helpful. For example, in the European Union it is not currently required to indicate the catch date, though the possibility of making it obligatory is being discussed by the European Commission. For now, how could the European consumer know that the fillet of Nile perch sold as fresh was actually caught in Central Africa 12-16 days earlier? How many people are aware that many fish species from Asia are sold in Europe and North America as fresh, even though they may have been frozen and defrosted more than once?
Posted on Fri, October 07, 2011 by Emily Vaughn
Why is it so hard to figure out how to buy seafood sustainably? How did we get here? Roots of Change takes a deep dive into the problem with California salmon and points to some solutions.
By Bobbie Peyton for Roots of Change
California salmon feed the country but their habitat is threatened to a perilous degree. To understand how that came to be, we have to acknowledge the complex, interconnected reality of our food system.
In California, the current salmon crisis can be traced to the early 1900s when the state chose to use its finite water supply to develop its urban centers and industrial agriculture, rather than maintaining its free-running inland waterways (i.e. rivers and creeks). The dams created to bring water to cities and farms did so at the expense of maintaining healthy aquatic ecosystems, and blocked salmon spawning routes.
Indeed the appropriation of abundant amounts of water and the creation of 1,400 dams transformed California into a “cornucopia,” the largest agricultural state in the U.S. But this choice to favor agriculture and developing cities still haunts us today.
Posted on Tue, July 12, 2011 by Jerusha Klemperer
2 sustainable seafood initiatives worth checking out: combating invasive fish species and reforming the “catch shares” system.
We’ve got two fish initiatives on the brain right now that we wanted to share with you.
1. Combating invasive fish species: Fish like Lion Fish and Asian carp are overtaking habitats and causing problems in rivers, lakes and reefs. How about this approach: eat them! As reported in the NY Times last week, “[Food and Water Watch’s] 2011 Smart Seafood Guide recommends for the first time that diners seek out invasive species as a “safer, more sustainable” alternative to their more dwindling relatives, to encourage fisherman and markets to provide them.” We are interested in this approach since it seems to achieve similar goals as he eater-based conservation Slow Food has promoted throughout its biodiversity work. In the case of endangered foods that deserve to be kept growing, we can create incentives to farmers and chefs by creating a demand for them (i.e. eat it to save it) in a way that actually increases their long-term chance of survival. This new push to eat abundant, invasive fish suggests eating can also work for species that are quite the opposite of endangered.
2. Balancing the environment and economics: Another issue we have been tracking closely is something called “Catch Shares.” This term refers to programs being implemented in coastal fishing areas that try to address overfishing by creating a system of quotas and distribution. i.e. the intent of the programs was to create a system of environmental stewardship, to keep fragile fish populations from being depleted by unsustainable, often large-scale, fishing companies that have started to dominate the waters. Although the intent of catch shares was positive, in effect, this natural resource has become privatized without ensuring the protections to fish populations that it sought to create, and meanwhile has pushed out the smaller fishing operations who were unable to secure sufficient quotas to stay in business. How did this happen? Click here to read more about the situation and take action.
The issue of how to ensure renewable, healthy fish populations without jeopardizing the livelihoods of those who bring us those fish, is a pressing concern to seafood fans nationwide and we’re committed to telling the story as it unfolds. Some other groups in addition to Food and Water Watch are exploring ways that these inequities can be corrected—we’ll keep you posted for additional ways to get involved.
One other article on fisheries caught our eye this week: an article in New York magazine about how fishermen on the Northeast coast are frustrated by bycatch and catch limit guidelines that are forcing them to toss dying and dead fish back into the water. It’s definitely an article with a strong point of view—what do you all think?
photo by loki_hound.
Posted on Fri, December 10, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
Today marks the second annual International Terra Madre Day—a day for celebrating eating locally, and honoring our local food communities.
Today marks the second annual International Terra Madre Day—a day for celebrating eating locally, and honoring our local food communities. In particular it can be a time for delegates to Slow Food’s Terra Madre conference in Torino to share with their experience from the conference with their communities.
This year there will be more than 1,000 events in over 120 countries, with over 50 of those events happening here in the U.S. Some communities got started early: over fifty Slow Food Seattle members and community supporters came together on November 28th for a day-long fish canning workshop called – “Time to Tin a Tuna!” - taught by Jeremy Brown, a Bellingham-based commercial fisherman and longtime proponent of Slow Food (as well as a Terra Madre delegate!). Wild Pacific Albacore has been in the news for all the right reasons - topping the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Super Green List and on National Public Radio in a feature on the growth of micro-canneries in the Pacific Northwest. Though you can find canned albacore tuna at your local food co-ops or fish markets in many communities, this was an opportunity to learn firsthand with someone well-versed in the process and safety considerations of using pressure cookers. At the end of the day, attendees left with both with the pride of supporting a local fisherman and a good stock of Wild Pacific Albacore to last through the long northwest winter.
To read more about the event, click here.
Thanks to Jennifer Johnson for photos and Slow Food Seattle blog post! Photos feature Slow Food Seattle members, Philip and June Lee & their family learning how to can tuna as well as Tuna-canner extraordinaire Jeremy Brown, a Bellingham-based commercial fisherman
Posted on Tue, June 08, 2010 by Slow Food USA
The oil situation in the Gulf of Mexico is threatening an entire culture on Louisiana’s coastline. Along every step of the food chain—from fisherman to chef to impassioned eaters like me—there is fear of the unknown. Until the oil gusher is stopped, none of us can tell what the future holds.
Shortly after Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. Slow Food Ark of Taste committee made an emergency boarding of Gulf seafood that seemed the most threatened at that time. Louisiana oysters and wild-caught Gulf shrimp were welcomed onto the Ark of Taste along with the New Orleans poor boy bread that they are so often served on.
Today, countless varieties of Gulf fin fish are hugely threatened, including lynchpins of our local menus like speckled trout and redfish. Our gumbo crab, the Louisiana blue crab, which is found both in the Gulf and in our brackish waterbodies like Lake Pontchartrain, could be wiped out by the intrusion of oil into our estuary marshes.
Since the oil disaster began, I have heard from Slow Food friends across the United States who ask, “How can we help?” The single best way to assist your food friends of the Gulf is to EAT GULF SEAFOOD.
Posted on Thu, November 12, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by intern Alaine Janosy
UPDATE (GOOD NEWS): the FDA has postponed the policy change in order to do more research on feasibility etc. Click here to read their press release.
In 1941, M.F.K. Fisher asked us to consider the oyster in her gastronomical classic and that is just what I have been doing for the past few days. This little mollusk has been dominating headlines due to the proposed Food and Drug Administration (FDA) post-harvest processing requirement for Gulf Coast oysters, set to take effect during the 2011 harvesting season. If this requirement goes into affect, no one will be able to sell or eat raw oysters from the Gulf Coast between April and October every year. This move by the FDA is meant to reduce the number of people sickened by Vibrio vulnificus (Vv) bacteria, which is a naturally occurring bacterium found in all coastal waters.
Vv bacterial infection can occur from consuming raw oysters, clams or mussels but the majority of people infected each year are actually infected by exposing an open wound or sore to seawater that contains the bacteria. The bacteria primarily causes serious illness only in people with weak immune systems or certain health or medical conditions; healthy people are rarely sickened by bacterial exposure. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) considers Vv a rare foodborne disease, which makes sense considering that of the FDAs estimated 76 million cases of foodborne illness annually, 5,000 result in death, and of those only 15 deaths are attributed to Vv bacteria. Thats 0.3% of deaths annually. Considering that five other bacteria, including Salmonella and Listeria, account for over 90% of estimated food-related deaths annually, it is surprising that the FDA would propose implementation of such rigorous regulations over an industry that contributes so insignificantly to foodborne illness on the whole in the United States, and already has mechanisms in place to develop and maintain oyster sanitation rules.
Speaking with Sal Sunseri, owner of P & J Oyster Company of New Orleans, which is the oldest continually operating dealer of oysters in the United States, I was able to get a better sense of how this change in FDA policy would affect the Gulf Coast oyster industry. He told me there are only so many #1s in Louisiana and oysters are one of them, with the Gulf Coast accounting for 66 percent of oyster harvests nationwide. This vital industry accounts for $318 million a year of Louisiana revenue and 3,565 Louisiana residents are employed by the industry. He sees this unjustified and unprecedented move by the FDA as stemming, at least in part, from continual pressure on the FDA from the Center for Science in the Public Interest to establish a regulation requiring oysters harvested from Gulf Coast waters to have non-detectable levels of Vv. Since Vv is naturally present in coastal areas, and in the oysters that live there, the only way to meet this regulation is through post-harvest processing (PHP).
Posted on Fri, September 11, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Biodiversity Intern Regina Fitzsimmons
Trout Unlimitedthe nations largest coldwater fisheries conservation organizationhas asked Slow Food Seattle and Seattle Chefs Collaborative to partner in a public awareness campaign to protect the wild Bristol Bay sockeye salmon. These three organizations are asking their neighbors and community members to Vote with their Fork. Trout Unlimited hopes that people will seek out and eat at restaurants that are serving wild Bristol Bay sockeye salmon on their menus and in so doing, support a sustainable food source that has renewed itself for the past 9,000 years that salmon have returned to Bristol Bay.
These fish need our protection now. Pebble Mine is attempting to set up new open pit mining operations (to the tune of $345-500 billion) at the headwaters of Bristol Bay, a territory prone to earthquakes. Pebble Mine wants to extract gold a non-renewable resource that could be mined 50 years before running out. (FYI, as you can read in our previous blog post from last January, the EPA ranks open pit mining as the most polluting industry in the nation.)
If Pebble Mine were able to set up camp on the banks of Bristol Bay, the development and pollution would be irreversibly harmful to the watershed and the 80 million wild salmon that migrate back to the Bay each year, not to mention the animals one notch up the food chain that depend on wild salmon for sustenance. Whats more, Bristol Bay is home to many people who also rely on the Bays fisheries for their income. If the sockeye faded off the world fishery stage, there would be an international crisis; Bristol Bay salmon make up 40% of the worlds sockeye salmon.
Posted on Mon, August 03, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Erika Lesser
Cooking in public is a great way to meet people, and customers of the Cortelyou Greenmarket in Brooklyn are an interesting bunch. Every week, a storyteller and her wide-eyed, eager son come on the subway from Sheepshead Bay; young families with strollers tumble out of Victorian houses around the corner; Russian blondes and their mothers stiletto-stroll arm in arm.
Its also our way of helping this young market put down roots in the neighborhood, and we do this in part for selfish reasons: we are lazy and hungry. My husband Jim and I live four blocks away, and we like being able to roll out on a Sunday morning, travel mug in hand, to buy food from people who pulled it themselves from the ocean, the dirt or the tree just the day before.
So last Sunday we did our second cooking demo of the season, with one goal: clambake. Forget digging a pit, gathering seaweed and waiting all day: instead we rigged the ideal city clambake, simplified and perfect for the backyard or even front stoop.
Jim laid mussels, littlenecks, steamers, a whole bluefish, one blue crab, corn, potatoes, artichokes, onion, oregano and butter on a bed of corn husks, wrapped it all in two layers of heavy duty foil and placed the entire package on a baby Weber grill. It took barely half an hour to cook, and before we knew it shoppers were crowding around with toothpicks, spearing their favorite bivalve or briny vegetable chunk.
It could not have been simpler, or a better excuse for chatting. Well be back next Sunday for our weekly market fix; whats yours?
SFUSA Executive Director Erika Lesser and her husband Jim Hutchinson live in the Ditmas Park neighborhood of Brooklyn also known as the Paris of Siberia.
Posted on Wed, June 24, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
By Gabrielle Redner
Rupert Murray’s documentary, The End of the Line, educates its audience about the reality of the sea: it is not an ever -replenishing body of water, and it is running low on many of its largest fish. Most likely, people who go to see the film agree that the ocean, like our land, must be mindfully utilized and not greedily mined. So what new information does the film provide to those who are concerned about fish in the sea? For starters, Murray acknowledges that the trawlers scooping hordes of fish out of the ocean rob the world not only of fish, but of jobs, a food source and the spirit of fishing communities.
Based on a book by British journalist Charles Clover, this film visually exposes the fishing industry’s incredibly powerful technologies. A boat unloads a waterfall of sardines, most of which will be used to feed farmed fish. Graphs of fish populations plummet, while graphs of their pray are on the exponential rise. The viewer is warned of the inevitable simplification of aquatic ecosystems if we continue to fish beyond recommended quotas.
As the scenes flash from rather bloody struggles of man and fish to decadent diners at Nobu, it’s hard not to think back to your last piece of delicious fish with a portion of guilt. But that is not the point. Like our land animals that may be sustainably raised and fed, fish can be caught using methods that ensure their sustainability, as well. The film does not ask us to reconsider whether to eat fish or not, but rather to consider the practices of those who caught the fish, and the stability of that species.
Slow Food International also runs a publishing company, Slow Food Editore, which specializes in tourism, food and wine. The library now contains about 40 titles and houses Slow, the award-winning quarterly herald of taste and culture, available in five languages: Italian, English, French, German and Spanish.