Savour food – fish – landing a bit of hope – the green, the blue and the you

“The work of the Marine Stewardship Council”

I came across this video from the Marine Stewardship Council just now which outlines a positive change for the status of fisheries on our blue planet.

We know that food has been industrialized and treated as a commodity. It is becoming very apparent that while that model works for widgets it is not, in the meantime (hopefully not the end), great for our precious nourishment: our food.

The Green

I’ve seen that the pendulum is swinging back where food production on the land is concerned. Here are some things I’ve observed. We are opting out of the big and industrialized food system that is making our earth and us sick. People are saving heirloom, non-GMO seeds and growing their own food. Organic is the fastest growing food sector now for several years running. Direct sourcing via Community Shared Agriculture and Farmer’s Markets is being made more salient with each industrialized food scare. It’s like watching erosion via implosion but sadly, there are too many human casualties caught in that downward spiral. Alternative funding for small niche farms is becoming a reality (slowly through a group called Slow Money). Heritage food skills are being recognized for the important life skills they truly are. People are seeing that perhaps “cooking is a chore” was a bill of goods which helped sell the idea of “convenient” processed goods. We are now reawakening to the possibility of cooking as an art and a basic life skill. We can appreciate that food made from scratch is whole and the nourishment it provides us and our families is the key to health and wellness.

The Blue

The tide is turning for our oceans as well. Fisherman have been at the mercy of the industrialized system that encourages catching massive volumes of fish and selling them at whatever price the major fish auctions in Boston, Japan, Europe, and Australia set. But there is a tiny segment of fisherman participating in direct sales through Community Supported Fisheries (there are three of these in Canada and 30 in the U.S.). They’ve watched Community Supported Agriculture succeed and they are engaging their own consumer market directly so they can be price setters and not passive price takers in a system that dependant on wealth generated by margins and not wealth generated from health of our oceans.

This video talks about the Marine Stewardship Council that has been working since 1997 to recalibrate our oceans to sustainable once more. They do this by setting standards and by creating premium markets via a chain of transparency and custodial principles that extends from the fishermen to the consumers. They are slowly dragging fisheries along in their net and now have 275 worldwide engaged in a sustainable manner.

The You

I recently attended a talk given by Sandra Cedone of the Marine Stewardship Council where she revealed 50% of the world’s fisheries are still victimized by pirate-like companies who rape and pillage our oceans via massive overfishing with no policing whatsoever (I’m sure she said that in a far more politically correct way and my apologies for not quoting her exactly). Hearing such a statistic you might think it a hopeless case but it is not. We’ve come a long way in a short time. You can make a difference with each dollar you spend on fish.

I hope you’ll keep enjoying fish but look for products with symbols of sustainability when buying fish and making choices. By demanding products from fisheries we know used sustainable methods, because they are certified so and have a transparent chain of custody, we will send the pirates packing and they too will have to conform. Look for the Marine Stewardship Council’s check mark on President’s Choice Blue Label in Canada. High Liner will be certified this year so look for their products in retailers across Canada. Target has 30 products in their Archer Farms and Market Pantry labels. Whole Foods has been expanding their 10 year history of selling only fish from certified fisheries.

In restaurants ask if the menu has Ocean Wise or Sea Choice choices. Download the app from Ocean Wise to your smart phone

Your dollars and how you spend them will drive fisheries and consequently their sustainability. Listen to the fishermen talk in the video. You can hear their surprised pleasure in the return to health of fish stocks managed in this way. They went for the fishing and they landed a bit of hope for our very blue planet’s collective future.

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