Why Buy Local Seafood?
Seafood can be confusing. Thousands of different types of seafood species are imported from all over the globe. Scallops from Maine, Coho salmon from Alaska, shrimp from Thailand, tuna from, well, somewhere out there. While most seafood is good for your health, sometimes it’s hard to know what you’re really eating.
- Mislabeling: According to a study by the non-profit Oceana, 1/3 of all fin fish sold in the United States is mislabeled. In Northern California, 38% is mislabeled. It is almost impossible for consumers to determine the source just by looking at a fish in the market.
- Sustainability: Many internationally sourced seafood might come with a lot of environmental and human rights issues. It is impossible to regulate these issues when importing.
- Handling: Who knows how the seafood has been handled in the processing and shipping? Even if one step of the process is not regulated can lead to bacteria growth and food poisoning.
Buying locally whenever possible can help solve many of these issues.
With a long beautiful Coastline, California is a seafood lover’s paradise. California fisheries are considered some of the most well managed in the world with high standards for handling and distribution, and a high chances of sustainability. Another plus is that the seafood doesn’t have as many “food miles” on it and is most likely fresher with less handling between leaving the ocean and being sold to a consumer.
By purchasing locally, you’re also helping the local economy. This includes not only fishermen and women, but processors, truck drivers, hoist workers, marine mechanics and more. This helps keeps the local economy strong and healthy.
California is lucky enough to boast a year round variety of fabulous seafood. Along with classic favorites like California King salmon, California halibut and Dungeness crab, there’s also Chilipepper Rockfish, Lingcod, Sand Dabs, Oysters, Uni, Black Cod, Spot Prawns, and Herring all from the San Francisco Bay. A year round marvel of delicious seafood right from our backyard!
Here are some tips for finding the best, freshest local seafood.
At the grocery store or farmers market:
Ask the fishmonger: who caught the fish, where it’s from, when, and how. Frozen or previously frozen seafood can often be very high quality as it might have been preserved at its peak of freshness. Check for signs of freezer burn to make sure it’s prime.
At the restaurant:
Ask your server where the fish is from. If they don’t know, or say “Asia”, ask if there’s anything local. Sustainable restaurants will know the name of the fishing vessel that caught the fish they are serving.
Join a Community Supported Fishery
This is like a CSA, only for seafood. One CSF in the Bay Area is Real Good Fish. They are based along the Monterrey Bay and deliver from Carmel all the way north to Marin and the East Bay once a week. Every week you receive a newsletter the day before delivery telling you who caught your fish, where and how, along with recipes and handling tips for the seafood. Choose a pickup location near your work or home and set up a text reminder so you don’t forget your share!