We had a great meeting today with Tim Oshea, the Founder and Chairman of CleanFish. CleanFish is a phenomenal company that sources seafood from artisinal fisherman promoting sustainable fishing practices which respect each environment, culture and community. Recently Business Week named CleanFish a finalist in their roundup of “America’s Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs.” One of their mottos and principal beliefs states “We believe that fish you can trust begins with people you can trust” . Take a look at their website for some really interesting videos featuring their alliance of fisherman. www.cleanfish.com
Believing in truthful fish does rely on trust. There is a story behind good food. And if there is no story, it is probably because it was mass-produced, void of personality and quality care. This is one dilemma facing sustainability–trying to develop impermeable and concrete standards/criteria. People are quick to make grand judgments about species of fish, either painting them as bad or good, black and white. There seems to be no in between, no middle of the road. Take shrimp for example. Does the wild capture of shrimp produce by catch. Yes. Does farmed shrimp have a bad reputation for destroying ecological habitats and promoting an industry void of standards. Yes. Does that mean that all shrimp are bad? No. There are specific products that are raised in a responsible manner and taste amazing, both farm raised and wild caught. It is important to know the source of your food, so that you can have confidence in making a responsible decision. On a menu Tuna could mean anything. One day it might come from Hawaii, the next it might come from Indonesia. One day fish might be sourced locally and the next from a far away country that perpetuates ill labor practices and dumps chemicals into the environment.
The more detached we are from our source of food, the less we care about its demise. Think about it, if you raised a pig for your own sustenance– day in and day out caring for and feeding the pig– when it came time to slaughter and eat the pig, would you waste any part of that animal? Certainly not. Yet when you buy a package of pork cutlets from a refrigerator packed with 40 other Styrofoam plates of pork cutlets, does that meal seem meaningful and would you lose sleep over throwing out one uneaten cutlet? The same goes for seafood. Knowing the story behind the fisherman, the community, and the culture makes you a responsible diner, and as Tim Oshea says, allows you to vote with your fork.