Posts Tagged ‘water’

Sustainable Fish Soundbites

Friday, June 12th, 2009

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There’s been a lot of press lately about top sushi Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s refusal to stop serving critically-endangered bluefin tuna in his celebrity-frequented, highly-lauded Nobu restaurants. Greenpeace and those barton seaver food and wine national harborsame celebrities have recently launched a boycott in hopes of forcing a menu change.

Meanwhile, here in the District, sustainable seafood ambassador Barton Seaver has just opened Blue Ridge, where he describes his mission as, “making broccoli sexy so you’ll have less room for the shrimp on your plate.” He’s not out to tell you what not to eat, he says, just as long as you’re not eating more than 4-5 ounces of a sustainably-harvested seafood species at a time.

At last weekend’s Food & Wine Festival at National Harbor, where Seaver gave a cooking demo, I was amused to see the Alaska seafood industry handing out sustainable seafood guides that just happened to be the same size and format as the Seafood Watch guides by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The difference? The industry-produced brochures assert that environmental contaminants like PCBs that are highly-publicized are not actually a problem in the US. (Really? Then what’s with this new warning about dangerous PCB levels in Atlantic rockfish, eh?) Alaskan seafood is generally one of the more sustainable options, as event speaker Dan Shapley of The Daily Green poinwild natural sustainable fishted out, so it’s unclear why they felt the need to spread misinformation.

Word Oceans Day was earlier this week, but you can still take a moment to sign a message to your legislators asking them to ban mercury-producing chlorine manufacturing processes; yes, the same mercury that gets into our soil, water, and fish…

Making smart seafood choices is complicated enough without having to try to discern which guides are scientific and which are just clever marketing. Here’s a look back at a “Sustainable Seafood 101” post I wrote earlier this year, part of the FoodieTot’s Sustainable Family Supper series. (And my contribution to this week’s Fight Back Friday, hosted by Food Renegade.)

Blog for the Bay to Save our Chesapeake Blue Crabs

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

blog for the chesapeake bayI use the term “Chesapeake Bay Foodshed” to describe the region from which we source as much of our fresh food as possible. Foodshed is a play on the term “watershed,” and it’s no secret that the Chesapeake Bay watershed is in trouble.

Aside from a love of fresh oysters, crab and fish, I have strong personal ties to the Bay as well.

My mother’s ancestors were among the early settlers on Maryland’s Eastern Shore centuries ago. My husband and I were married on Kent Island, less than a mile from the creek bearing the family’s name.

On my dad’s side, he grew up in the District and no family gathering is complete without a crab feast. The day after our wedding, my Grandpop sat my poor Jewish husband down and said, “Now that you’re part of this family, you need to learn how to pick crab.” He was a good sport about it but still prefers to let others do the work. As for me, it just isn’t summer without a trip to Quarterdeck in Arlington for a dozen crabs on a humid evening.

If we’re going to continue to enjoy local blue crab, significant actions must be taken to clean up the Bay. The Clean Water Act is 30 years old. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had a 2010 deadline to get the Bay off the “dirty waters” list, and has admitted they might not make it before 2020. If you caught last night’s “Poisoned Waters” documentary, you saw how drastic the decline has been for oysters (2 million bushels to 100,000 bushels a year) and fish (most species are already gone completely). The Bay can’t wait any longer! Please join me and fellow “Blog for the Bay” participants and sign the petition to the EPA Administrator urging them to avoid any further delay.

Blog for the Bay Round-Up: Please visit these other local blogs to hear more stories about what the Chesapeake Bay and its seafood mean to all of us, and chime in with your own stories in the comments or on your own blog. Check back here and at my co-host The Arugula Files for updated links later in the day. And please share on Facebook &/or Twitter (hashtag #blog4thebay), too!

  • Arugula Files tells of an unsuccessful crabbing experience, and the iconic Cantler’s Riverside Inn. (And a previous post about the sustainability of Maryland’s blue crabs.)
  • Capital Spice tells of a favorite market vendor, Chris’ Marketplace.
  • The Green Phone Booth‘s JessTrev reminisces about roof deck parties and a soft shell sandwich to mark Bill Clinton’s inauguration.
  • Capital Cooking Show‘s Lauren was recently introduced to blue crabs after moving here from the Midwest.
  • Metrocurean used “pretty please with crabcakes on top” to beg favors from her father, and shares her grandmother’s crabcake recipe.
  • Plight of the Pumpernickel gives a tutorial in eating those steamed blue crabs.
  • DCist chimes in with a plug for the Maine Avenue Fish Wharf, and link to those terrific “save the crabs .. then eat ’em” ads of a few years back.
  • Endless Simmer sees ulterior motives in our campaign. (Hey, we’re not denying our self-interest. Crabs are yummy!)
  • Internet Food Association is stung by Old Bay and scary magic cards.
  • Etsy Inspiration gives us a look at arts and crafts inspired by the Bay.

Related: The Chesapeake Bay Daily has a graphic representation of the Bay’s blame game, and our campaign is featured on the CBF blog.

Fresh from the Cranberry Bogs

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

Part One of Two on sustainable cranberry sauce for your Thanksgiving dinner… While cranberry-sauce-in-a-can is always on our Thanksgiving table to appease my “traditionalist” husband and in-laws, I make one or two fresh variations as well. I’ve always been intrigued by the notion of cranberry bogs. While my home state Oregon actually boasts a few, I have never seen one in person. In other random cranberry facts, did you know that cranberries are one of the few native North American fruits? And that the cranberry capital of the US is Wisconsin, with Massachusetts in second place? Nutritionally, cranberries provide a boost of antioxidants, vitamin C and fiber.

If you’re like me, one of the first steps you probably took to “go green” was swapping out plastic bottles for a few reusable bottles. (We’re fans of the Sigg (especially for kids) and Klean Kanteen here at the Foodie Tots household.) Then you probably started noticing the news reports about what’s really in that bottled water and just how polluted your tap water really is. (Especially if you’re lucky enough to live in lead pipe-supplied D.C.) Yeah yeah, enough with the science lesson, how does this relate to Thanksgiving dinner?

Cranberry bogs. I was brushing off my maple cranberry sauce recipe and started wondering just what chemicals might lurk in those mysterious bogs. Then I realized they probably add pesticides on top of whatever groundwater contaminants are already there. Sure enough, cranberries are treated with 22 different types of pesticides (and herbicides, fungicides, etc.), which are then discharged into lakes, rivers and wetlands. And cranberry bogs are exempt from the Clean Water Act (!).

So I pointed my trusty Google towards “organic cranberry bog” and discovered this great little video from Nantucket, Connecticut, where the Nantucket Conservation Fund is slowly converting traditional bogs to all-natural cranberry plots. (Remember that crops have to be grown organically for a number of years before they can obtain organic certification, so there is a significant lag time.)

As retold in the video, their organic cranberries garner three times the price of conventional, but they put about four times as much labor into maintaining the bogs. Organic bogs also produce a lower yield, which is further disincentive in a conventional food system that values quantity over all else. They are making progress, however. The University of Massachusetts-Amherst’s Cranberry Station is also conducting research and outreach to increase the use of integrated pest management (IPM, or less-pesticide) techniques in cranberry bogs.

So check your local grocery and spring for the organic berries if you can find them – Thanksgiving only comes once a year, after all, and now you can enjoy your meal knowing a little less pesticide is entering our water (and your kids – after all, cranberries soaking in toxins for months at a time can’t simply be rinsed clean). And you can wash it down with organic Triple Eight cranberry vodka, straight from Nantucket.

Up next, where to find organic cranberries and a recipe to enjoy them in.

“Behind the label” is a new series by that highlights the sustainability issues behind our food, and brings you the facts you won’t find in the glossy food mags who rely on ad revenue from big agribusiness.