Holiday Shopping, Seafood Edition

This is a three-part series where I will write briefly about a company I have chosen to make a purchase from this holiday season, in hopes that it inspires you to find your own retailers and businesses that give you high quality, affordable, and sustainably-sourced products for yourself or loved ones you shop for this season.

Company #1 – Salty Girl Seafood, Inc.

“Salty Girl Seafood is more than a seafood company – it’s a connection to the ocean, a relationship to where your food comes from, and a right to enjoy simpler, healthier ingredients on your dinner table. With every purchase, you’re driving positive change in our oceans and celebrating fishermen who harvest responsibly.”   -Salty Girl Seafood, Inc.

While doing some grocery shopping for delicious holiday meals with my mother last week, we went to pick out shrimp and crabmeat for her delicious dishes. I explained to her the importance of buying sustainable seafood. My mother, a talented chef, gave in to my advice several years ago to try to purchase only sustainable seafood in our house which eats this protein 2-3 times a week. Mom admitted that she doesn’t always know if the ingredients she is buying are fitting the bill for sustainability. Together, at the frozen seafood section in a Kroger, I showed her two packages – one that was designed to look like it was a sustainable, American-sourced choice, and one that actually was. After a quick examination of both backsides of the bags, it was easily seen that the one masquerading as a sustainable choice, had a misleading “Great American Seafood” logo but came from farm-raised Indonesian source. Without any more detail, it was easy to ascertain that this farm-raised seafood probably did not come from a closed aquaculture system – one that doesn’t pollute the open ocean with growth hormones, waste, and detritus – otherwise it would say that (celebrate that! market that!). The second package listed the ingredients as farm raised, sustainably-grown seafood from a company here on the Texas Gulf Coast. After putting one of these packages into the cart, we took a look at the canned seafood aisle, and I also pointed out the major difference in the single brand that actually followed regulations for sustainable seafood, and two other very popular brands that sourced the seafood in the cans from dodgy Asian markets that are not regulated and not inspected for sustainability.

This might sound like a lot of work, but these decisions were made in less than 5 minutes thanks to Seafood Watch, a smartphone app that comprehensively narrows down your possible purchasing options. And every little bit a consumer can stay informed and actively pursue responsible buying, helps ensure that a protein source for a large part of the global population remains available and accessible.

This supermarket adventure, coupled with the recent news by NOAA about seafood imports, inspired me to finish off some stocking stuffers from Salty Girl Seafood, Inc., a company grown from a graduate student entrepreneurship project at the Bren School of UCSB in Santa Barbara, CA. I remember hearing about the project from a friend a couple years ago, and I’m happy to include them in my holiday shopping list now. Check them out for yourself, they have a promotion right now for delicious, smoked seafood ready to ship! Or if you’re a local Californian, check your Whole Foods to see where they’re carried.

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