Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Sustainable seafood with a shelf life

Barton Seaver
Barton Seaver, Esquire magazine’s 2009 Chef of the Year, National Geographic Oceans Fellow and author of For Cod and Country cookbook, is the Sustainability Fellow at the New England Aquarium. In this role, he periodically discusses ways families can bring sustainable seafood to the dinner table. 

In Part 1 of this series of posts, he shares a surprising way that families can create a quick, healthy, sustainable, ocean-friendly meal.

As Sustainability Fellow at the Aquarium, I am often asked “What should be for dinner?” Unfortunately the answer is not always so easy. Sustainable seafood is a complicated topic, one that depends on myriad variables, making a trip to the seafood counter feel like one of those SAT questions about two trains leaving the station at different times. Factor in the cost of fresh seafood per pound and it’s understandable why some households are reluctant to experiment with cooking seafood dishes or adding them to their regular routine.

However, sometimes the best options are not in the fresh case. Fresh seafood has seasons of availability, there are price fluctuations, there are times when what’s in the case just doesn’t inspire! The unpredictable nature of our busy lives can also make it difficult to plan a meal with highly perishable fresh seafood. Luckily there are other aisles in which to look for the delicious bounty of the sea.

Enter the humble can.

Canned fish. Find it in your grocery store! | Photo: Mk2010 via Wikimedia Commons 

Canned seafood represents some of the best values in any aisle of the grocery store and also some of the most delicious ingredients to be found anywhere. Canned products offer a number of virtues that benefit your wallet, your taste buds and our oceans. A quick inventory of commonly canned species reveals a who’s-who of the top of the sustainability green list—sardines, mussels, clams, oysters, crab, herring, mackerel, pink and sockeye salmons, and yes, even some species of tuna.

There are other major benefits to eating canned seafood, the first of which is that it is accessible to everyone, everywhere. Even gas stations often carry a couple options making this affordable protein the ultimate convenience food. The extended shelf life continues that convenience factor all the way from the time of purchase until the moment your family sits to dinner.

Stay tuned to part two of this series for some ideas on how a simple can of seafood can be ocean-friendly, sustainable and tasty! Learn more about the Aquarium's Sustainable Seafood Programs by exploring our ocean-friendly seafood guide or treating yourself to a Celebrate Seafood dinner event.

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