Quinn on Nutrition: Yes, there is a sustainable way to farm seafood

May 25, 2015

According to my dictionary, to "sustain" means to supply with nourishment; to support; to preserve. "Sustainable" refers to something that helps maintain or conserve our energy and resources. My morning coffee and granola come to mind.

Relationships can sustain us as well. Recently co-workers and I participated in an event entitled "Sustaining Community Connections" hosted by California State University at Monterey Bay. It recognized supportive partnerships in our community, including Kids Eat Right, a program provided by Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. Volunteers and staff were recognized for their efforts to sustain the health of elementary school children through fun physical activity and good food choices. Yay, team!

Also recently there was an amazing event hosted by the Sustainable Foods Institute at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. "Cooking for Solutions" was a food and wine occasion to feature ocean-friendly masterpieces created by local Monterey chefs with sustainable (there’s that word again) ingredients.

As guests dined on the likes of Buttermilk Mousse of Trout, Pickled Ecuadorian Shrimp and Verlasso Smoked Salmon on chive biscuits, we learned that sustainable food is produced in a way that does not encroach on other habitats or harm the environment. Perhaps most surprising at this event, however, was the revelation that farmed seafood is not a dirty word.

This is a new message — that farmed seafood can be sustainable, I was told by Sheila Bowman from the Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program. Farming practices over the past 10 years have improved to the point that several farmed fish species are now included on their "Best Choices" list.

"When the environment is considered and good practices are used, it is possible to create sustainably farmed seafood," explained Emerson Brown, also of Seafood Watch. What are "good practices"? Operations that keep fish healthy and prevent the escape of non-native fish into the surrounding environment.

For example, some Atlantic salmon is farmed in recirculating aquaculture systems that separate the fish from the surrounding environment. Salmon farmed in this manner is now on the Seafood Watch "Best Choice" list for consumers. And Atlantic Verlasso salmon from Chile is considered a "Good Alternative." Other sustainably farmed seafood choices include oysters, clams, mussels, scallops and Rainbow trout. There really is such a thing as responsible aquaculture, say these experts.

Yes, we are sustained and nourished, supported and preserved in many ways, from our food and nutrition choices to personal and work relationships. It’s a lifestyle that — along with good coffee and granola — can benefit us all




McClatchy-Tribune Information Services