Sharon New June 24th, 2011
Last Wednesday, I was invited to attend the last of the Fresh Thoughts Sustainable Seafood Dining Series Dinners at the National Aquarium in Washington DC featuring Chef Xavier DeShayes of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center and Chef Susan Delbert of the National Press Club. It was an outstanding evening of good food, conversation and education about the importance of eating legally caught (and local) seafood. The hors d’ouevres included a raw oyster bar and clams and unbelievable local mini blue crab cakes made by Chef Delbert (I had way too many of those!). The main course was, of course, Rockfish (line caught) with a local squash ratatouille. The dessert….well, a picture is worth a thousand words on this. We, as individual consumers, can support sustainable seafood choices which can make a difference in the fish populations and the overall health of our oceans. One specific item we can do is to be able to spot when we think a restaurant may be serving illegal Rockfish. Legally caught Rockfish will have tags and (most) chefs will usually retain the tags. If they don’t have them it doesn’t mean they are illegal, but it doesn’t hurt to ask if only to raise awareness to the restaurant that at least one customer is aware and wanting to eat only legally caught Rockfish. And remember the old adage if it’s too good to be true? Well, it definitely applies to Rockfish prices. If the price on that menu is the cheapest you’ve ever seen, watch out…it most likely will be illegally caught. For more information on what other seafood should NOT be served, go here. Visit www.seafoodwatch.org to obtain a list of sensible seafood choices. I keep a pocket shopping guide with me and often refer to it at restaurants if I’m not sure whether I should order the fish special or not. As for local choices: Two Oceans (Alaskan wild caught salmon, Rockfish); the Annapolis Seafood Market where you can purchase fresh and local caught Rockfish and crabmeat; contact Choptank Sweets or Circle C Oyster Ranchers Association for oysters; sustainably raised shrimp visit Marvesta Farms. Finally,
don’t forget about my Local Food Beat’s Local Food Resource List which lists a few more local seafood options.