A big conference called the Chefs Collaborative National Summit brought hundreds of chefs and foodies to Seattle in early October to talk about more sustainable ways of sourcing food and eating.
While the highlight for many was the incredible sampling of foods from the Pacific Northwest, including wild salmon, the presentations and discussions about today's pressing food issues were a hit too. Chef and National Geographic fellow Barton Seaver gave an overview of sustainable seafood practices and said his quest started as a chef when he wanted to serve many fish he’d caught as a child and was told that they were gone and decimated.
Seaver pointed out that we need to not just think of protecting only oceans and fish, but also the fishermen who provide the access to seafood. He also noted that fishermen deserve to be on the “red list” as much as any fish in the ocean.
Seaver urged his fellow chefs to diversify the fish they serve, not just focusing on the popular white flaky fishes, and to control the portions. Why can’t you take salmon off the menu, Seaver wondered, or further localize the fishes you serve? He also urged chefs to consider more sustainable forms of seafood, such as canned and frozen seafood, products that are cheap and accessible for home cooks.
“Sustainability is not about finding more food to feed more people. We can’t do that. It’s about feeding people better,” he said. He concluded with, “Eat with care and be mindful of the impact that your choices have on this planet.”
Best-selling author Paul Greenberg took the stage with a slide show and told the tale of two salmon: Atlantic, which is nearly vanished, and Pacific, which flourishes still in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Greenberg explained how the Bristol Bay region is like a gigantic, wet, interconnected sponge, which is why putting a mega mine and parking toxic mine waste in the heart of this salmon country is so dangerous.
“It’s the food fight of our generation, I deeply believe,” he said, when referring to the proposed Pebble Mine.
He talked about how Bristol Bay's other native species, like a slippery, fighting trout, depend on the salmon for their protein and survival and that it is Bristol Bay’s very remoteness and lack of development that makes it such perfect salmon habitat.