Confession – I pay attention to where my meat comes from, but I haven’t been as diligent when ordering or buying seafood. As a blog contributor for Alberta Pork I have become an advocate for always buying local, Alberta raised, western Canadian raised, or Canadian pork (in that order). I’ve actually walked up to strangers in Costco and said “do you know that giant pork loin is American?” I’ve picked up racks of lamb in grocery stores and upon seeing a label from New Zealand – quickly put it down. But just because Alberta is a land-locked meat heavy province, that doesn’t mean that I, or other Albertans, shouldn’t care about making the same choices when buying seafood.
A few years ago my family joined a community supported fishery called Skipper Otto that believes in fair-access fishing – but that’s as far as I have gone in my commitment to local and/or sustainable seafood.
That is changing, thanks to an invite the Spaniard and I received to Sabor’s Annual Seafood Festival media sneak peek event. This year’s multi-course dinner was in collaboration with Chef Ned Bell featuring Ocean Wise approved seafood.
Sabor has become my favourite lunch spot downtown, so I welcomed the opportunity to preview Chef Lino’s August Seafood Festival menu. It also gave us the opportunity to learn more about Ocean Wise and the importance of choosing sustainable seafood. The first thing I learned that night is that choosing sustainable doesn’t mean comprising taste. Instead, Chef Lino and Chef Bell made sustainable seafood taste like it should be the only choice.
Ocean Wise’s recommendations are based on 4 criteria. An Ocean Wise recommended species is:
1. Abundant and resilient to fishing pressures.
2. Well managed with a comprehensive management plan based on current research.
3. Harvested in a method that ensures limited bycatch on non-target and endangered species.
4. Harvested in ways that limit damage to marine or aquatic habitats and negative interactions with other species.
The criteria is far from limiting. During our meal we were treated to west and east coast oysters, Albacore Tuna, octopus, sardines, mussels, crab, scallops, prawns, mackerel, wild BC salmon, and sturgeon.
Throughout the meal chef Ned Bell emphasized the importance of choosing sustainable – explaining how 90 per cent of the world’s accessed fish stocks are currently over-exploited or at full capacity. Globally we are eating more seafood than ever before – since I’ve been dating a seafood loving Spaniard – I have personally seen my seafood consumption increase over the past few years.
Chef Ned Bell left us with a challenge that night. He asked that we not just support restaurants like Sabor who serve Ocean Wise, but to also consume more sustainable seafood at home. He challenged us to have sustainable seafood at least once a week, and try something new from the ocean once a month.
Trying Chef Lino’s kelp-blackened Sturgeon loin with a sea urchin cream that night checked off two new items for me – Sturgeon and sea urchin. I felt it was the most visually intriguing dish of the evening and the jet-black kelp gave the Sturgeon a sushi flavour; the dish is still available on the Sabor Seafood Festival menu until the end of the month.
Ocean Wise’s classification system is based on two categories: Ocean Wise or Not Recommended, simply a good or bad choice for our oceans. Thanks to a little education during an incredible meal at Sabor, i’m going to be making some better choices for our oceans, lakes and rivers.
Check out this video by Kevin Kossowan from the event, and some insight into what encouraged Chef Lino to make going sustainable a priority. See you at Sabor:
10220 103 St, Edmonton