Posted by... lana on Oct 16, 2014

Connecting Youth to Healthy Food

By Lana Gunnlaugson, National SeaChoice Manager

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Growing Chefs Executive Director Helen Stortini

Earlier this month, SeaChoice attended the “From Farms to Forks” annual harvest kitchen party hosted by Growing Chefs. The evening was held at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts in Vancouver, which offered a fun and interactive venue for this fundraising celebration.

And although much of the focus for Growing Chefs is working with children in classrooms to grow a passion for healthy and sustainable food, there was also much care in choosing local and ocean-friendly seafood too. From farmed local oysters on the half shell, BC Albacore tuna poke and wild BC confit salmon, the seafood was a highlight for many on the evening’s menu.

Chefs hosted nine unique mouth-watering tasting stations in their own kitchens representing local restaurants such as The Acorn, Provence and Fable. Guests moved from kitchen to kitchen with just a fork in hand to enjoy the tastings paired with local BC wines and beer. It’s not every day you get to walk into the chef’s kitchen to watch them prepare your dish AND enjoy their creation, while asking them tasting questions about their menu and local ingredients.

Overall Growing Chefs had a successful night, reaching their fundraising goal of $20,000, which will allow them to support their 2015 Classroom Gardening and Cooking Program where they hope to provide more than 900 students hands-o16374_10154699889275068_218950808913877259_nn education about food security, food literacy, and healthy eating. With any hope, SeaChoice will have the opportunity to work with Growing Chefs in the future to help educate our youth about growing seafood sustainably too with innovative aquaculture solutions.

 

 

 

Posted by... lana on Oct 10, 2014

A Kudos to The Big Carrot

By Rhona Govender, SeaChoice Member from CPAWS BC

The Big CarrotSeaChoice is proud to showcase The Big Carrot, our retail partner since 2009. Our recent interactions with their team has shown us that their dedication goes far beyond providing healthy food. The Big Carrot is committed to health and sustainability at all levels, ranging from providing products that promote a healthy living to sourcing products that use ecologically sound practices.

The Big Carrot’s commitment to sustainable seafood is based on their Six-point Seafood Sustainability Policy, which was created in collaboration with SeaChoice. Their dedication is highlighted in this policy, as demonstrated by including such strong principles and their openness to sharing this information with the public. The Big Carrot ensures that all fish sold are sound SeaChoice choices and they completely prohibit the sale of red-listed “Avoid” options. They are also engaged in effecting change by having increased product transparency, a focused educational component, and encouraging changes to policy.

We are happy to be working with an organization that has a primary focus of sourcing products with a minimal impact on the planet. As the cultural anthropologist and writer Margaret Mead once wrote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” Not only is The Big Carrot doing their part as a business, but they are also creating the opportunity for members of the public to do so as well.

The Big Carrot and SeaChoice share the common vision of securing the future sustainability of the ocean’s resources. We plan to continue supporting each other to move forward with this goal, and hope you do too.

Posted by... lana on Oct 7, 2014

Introducing Slow Fish to BC

By Kurtis Hayne, SeaChoice Seafood Market Analyst

SlowFishDinnerWebsiteCarouselThe inaugural Slow Fish BC mystery dinner took place on September 27th at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts (PICA) and was spearheaded by Chef Robert Clark, PICA’s own Chef Julian Bond and the Chefs’ Table Society of BC. A major part of the Slow Fish mandate is to promote the sustainable use of our oceans’ resources. Chef Robert Clark, the night’s master of ceremonies, has long preached the philosophy of sustainable seafood and the role chefs have in supporting responsible seafood choices to ensure the future health of our oceans.

In attendance were many chefs with similar views, each cooking mouthwatering dishes using very unique and local ingredients from our west coast. The Four Seasons Vancouver Hotel’s Yew Seafood Restaurant + Bar, Chef Ned Bell, recently completed a cycling trip across Canada in support of sustainable seafood and healthy oceans, cooked up gooseneck barnacles on greens with pickled cauliflower and apricots.

Chef David Hawksworth prepared Honey Mussels in a tomato and fennel broth and Chef Robert Belcham prepared sustainably farmed Northern Divine Sturgeon.

The other mystery chefs were Roger Ma, Andrea Carlson, Lisa Ahier and Jonathan Chovancek, who prepared sea urchin, geoduck, oysters and clams. Each chef hosted their own open training kitchen where they prepped their dish and were able to chat with the guests who moved from cooking station to cooking station.

Despite all of the delicious food, a major focus of the event was also on education and outreach. In attendance were many leading environmental photo2groups including This Fish, the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise, Pacific Salmon Foundation, Watershed Watch and SeaChoice. Many of the attendees, although well-versed in the issues surrounding their local seafood took time away from the festivities of the night to stop by and chat in the education room.

Ultimately chefs have played a large role in making sustainable seafood choices desirable. Without ocean ambassador chefs like Robert Clark, local treasures like BC spot prawns or albacore tuna would be difficult to find in the Canadian market. The BC Slow Fish mystery dinner highlighted how each person – whether a fisher, farmer, chef, scientist, or just a general seafood lover, is key in protecting our oceans though choosing to celebrate and eat sustainable seafood.

 

Posted by... lana on Sep 24, 2014

Welcome Home Ned!

National Sustainable Seafood Day Supporters

MP Fin Donnelly, Ned Bell, Lana Gunnlaugson, and Mayor Gregor Robertson

By Kurtis Hayne, SeaChoice Seafood Market Analyst

On July 1st Chef Ned Bell started his journey across Canada – a 74-day cycling tour in support of healthy lakes, rivers and oceans. Fast-forward to September 12th and Ned arrived back in Vancouver having cycled over 8700km at a pace of over 150km per day! The journey concluded at the Vancouver Four Seasons Hotel for a 20th and final event of the trip.

Having followed Ned’s journey, I was excited for him to have completed such an amazing feat. I was also very excited to see how well the journey had been received across the entire country. Having grown up in Alberta, I realize the particular importance of Ned’s tour in places where the idea of “sustainable seafood” may not be as familiar as here on the West Coast. Indeed, Ned mentioned that during his trip the question he was asked over and over was “What is Sustainable Seafood?”

Arriving at the event it was immediately apparent how strong the sustainability movement truly is here in Vancouver. There were many local chefs who are championing the sustainability movement through their outreach and sustainable menus – Ned joined chefs such as Robert Clark of The Fish Counter, Frank Pabst of Blue Water Café and Raw Bar, Quang Dang of West, Tim Bedford from the Vancouver Aquarium and Chef Chris Whittaker of Forage, among others, to create delicious sustainable seafood dishes such as Kuterra Salmon Blossoms and a Northern Divine sturgeon Tostada. In addition to Lana and myself from SeaChoice there was a large contingent of Ocean Wise staff supporting the event and a who’s who of Vancouver personalities attending including the “Lobster Guy” Fabian Bates, Fred Lee, Dawn Chubai and Mayor Gregor Robertson.

Lana Gunnlaugson and Ned Bell - Chefs for Oceans Credit: Fred Lee

Lana Gunnlaugson and Ned Bell – Chefs for Oceans Credit: Fred Lee

For me the most striking, and inspiring thing I experienced during the night was the camaraderie of everyone involved. There was a mutual respect and admiration for our local watersheds and a shared need to help protect them. It was indeed this camaraderie that made such an ambitious pursuit as the Chefs for Oceans tour able to be so successful. Such teamwork will continue to be needed to accomplish Ned’s goals of creating accessible sustainable seafood for all Canadians within the next ten years and the creation of a National Sustainable Seafood Day here in Canada.

Posted by... lana on Jul 16, 2014

Chefs for Oceans – fueled by Canadians  

By Lana Gunnlaugson, National SeaChoice Manager

Ned Bell in Nova Scotia

Ned Bell in Nova Scotia

When Chef Ned Bell first shared his idea to ride his bike across Canada in support of healthy lakes, rivers and oceans, I knew immediately that this would be one of the loftiest projects that we would likely ever work together on. Biking 8000km from coast to coast is daunting in itself. But a tour of this size also requires careful planning, a team of dedicated support, fundraising efforts, not to mention a whole lot of heart.

To be honest, I initially had my moments of doubt. I organized another cross Canada tour, and witnessing first hand what it takes to make this sort of endeavor a success made me wonder if we could pull it off. So when Ned first came to me earlier this year to discuss making his dream a reality, I was hesitant to initially commit. I actually didn’t think he was crazy enough to go for it either! We had little time to organize the tour and only a small team in place to support the next steps, but there definitely was a lot of heart.

Chefs for Oceans on the road

Chefs for Oceans on the road

After a few years of working with Ned, I knew that he was determined enough to make Chefs for Oceans a reality. I also am slightly addicted to monster projects that have the ability to create change. And so when Ned secured a van for the tour, his dream was becoming a reality with the incredible support of his lovely wife Kate, his entire family, the Four Seasons and both of the teams at Ocean Wise and SeaChoice.

But beyond the fierce Chefs for Oceans planning team, what really has warmed my heart is all of the support from coast to coast. Donations have ranged from a tour van and road bikes to air travel points and promotional materials, making the basic logistics of this tour possible. And our co-hosts have not only opened their restaurants, aquariums and business space to welcome locals to twenty events along the tour, but many have also generously offered their staff, catering and support in promoting the tour.

Canadian fishers, aquaculturists and seafood suppliers have also helped us tremendously by donating sustainable seafood product for our events across the country. Some businesses like Organic Ocean have even gone above and beyond by helping us to fundraise with 1% of all seafood sales being donated to Chefs for Oceans during the tour. Albion has also generously donated sustainable canned Albacore tuna to support Ned with his fundraising efforts. Not to mention the many donations from craft breweries, sporting gear, local food artisans, etc. And along the way, many Canadians have already stepped up to offer Ned everything from free hotel rooms and meals to cash donations and even opening their own homes.

Every donation helps!

Every donation helps!

But we are only a few weeks in and there are still many kilometers to go so if you are able to support fuel Chefs for Oceans in any way, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Sometimes it is the smallest things that have a major impact; especially when you build a community such as Ned has. And to everyone that has helped to support Ned’s journey so far, we sincerely thank you for your generous support.

Posted by... katherine on Jul 11, 2014

SeaChoice partners shine in Greenpeace report

By Katherine Dolmage, SeaChoice Market Analyst

BC Coast Credit: John Brouwer

BC Coast Credit: John Brouwer

Last week, Greenpeace Canada released its 2014 retailer report card. SeaChoice is proud to see all of our retail partners receiving passing grades, and most showing improvement over their previous scores.  We are especially proud to see Canada Safeway, SeaChoice partner since 2011, jump into first place in this year’s report. The first place ranking is well deserved, as Safeway has shown strong leadership in their progress towards their sustainable seafood commitment. Sourcing a “Best Choice” private label FAD-free skipjack canned tuna product and bringing Kuterra closed containment Atlantic salmon to market are just two of the many progressive steps Canada Safeway has made.

In addition to highlighting the great work retailers in Canada have been doing, the Greenpeace report shows the work still necessary for retailers in Canada to demonstrate that their seafood supply chains are truly sustainable. All Canadian retailers surveyed still source a number of red-ranked seafood products. Many have not expanded their seafood commitments beyond products for human consumption. Seafood supply chains are notoriously enigmatic, but the public commitments made by Canada’s major retailers to source sustainable seafood products and to ensure their seafood supply is not coming from marine reserves are major steps towards ensuring our oceans thrive and continue to be productive in the future.

Congratulations to the retailers in Canada who have worked to improve their seafood supply chain. We look forward to continuing our retailer work and creating meaningful change on the water.

By Lana Gunnlaugson, National SeaChoice Manager

Prairie fishing Credit: Lana Gunnlaugson

Prairie fishing Credit: Lana Gunnlaugson

Today, for the first time in Canada, two freshwater fish species have been certified as eco-friendly by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). Both northern pike and walleye from Lake Waterhen, Manitoba have received the MSC check-mark of approval in an effort to help guide consumers in choosing their fish responsibly.

The MSC approved walleye are from an ice fishery that uses gillnets to directly target the walleye, whereas northern pike are caught incidentally alongside the walleye. Both species are managed by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship (MCWS) and the only eligible fishers are those that are licensed to commercially harvest Lake Waterhen in the winter ice fishery.

In addition to this fishery, the MSC is also currently evaluating Lake Erie’s freshwater fisheries. SeaChoice is also currently undertaking an assessment of several other Manitoba lakes as part of our effort to help Canadians better understand wild harvest freshwater fish options. As a Prairie girl from northern Saskatchewan, I am excited for the first two Canadian freshwater fish to be approved through the MSC certification, and I look forward to seeing the results of the SeaChoice assessments that are scheduled to be public later this year.

Depending on where you live in the Prairies and throughout central Canada for that matter, it can be challenging to find eco-friendly options when it comes to choosing seafood. Finding local freshwater products that are sustainable is exciting news as it can help to shift the demand away from unsustainably harvested fish towards local and eco-friendly options. Making these efforts today to support healthier oceans, lakes and rivers will be essential in moving forward.

With the fifth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released earlier this spring, it is timely to note that in this year’s report, scientists have prioritized their focus on two key areas: global food protection and freshwater resources. The effects of climate change on both our oceans and freshwater resources can already be seen globally as well as here in Canada. From acidifying water linked to killing off 10 million scallops on Vancouver Island earlier this year, to depleting invaluable freshwater resources globally, it is becoming more and more apparent how important it is to support healthy oceans and freshwater bodies. Shifting the demand for sustainable fishing and aquaculture practices is one easy way for us all to protect our oceans, lakes and rivers.

Posted by... lana on Jun 17, 2014

Chefs for Oceans

By Lana Gunnlaugson, National SeaChoice Manager

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Chefs for Oceans

Over the past few months, the buzz around the Chefs for Oceans tour has been ramping up. And two weeks today, Chef Ned Bell’s dream of riding his bike across Canada is becoming a reality. Ned launches his tour in St. John’s, Newfoundland on Canada Day and his journey is expected to reach Vancouver, British Columbia, on September 12.

I have known Ned over the years, and his passion for raising awareness around healthy oceans has always been incredibly motivating for anyone that works with him. But the Chefs for Oceans tour and the energy that has gone into making this dream a reality is truly inspiring. In this morning’s media conference, Ned shared his Chefs for Oceans goal “to have sustainable seafood accessible to every Canadian within the next decade.”

He continued to explain this morning, that Chefs for Oceans is not just about him, but rather all chefs and the power they all have in influencing the shift towards a sustainable seafood supply in Canada. “Two thirds of all seafood is consumed in restaurants, so chefs have a really unique opportunity to spread the spread message,” said Chef Ned Bell. Whether it is choosing the ingredients on their menus responsibly, raising sustainable seafood awareness with their customers and staff, or by supporting sustainable seafood programs such as SeaChoice or the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wiseprogram.

Lana Gunnlaugson & Chef Ned Bell

Lana Gunnlaugson & Chef Ned Bell

I personally am thrilled about Chefs for Oceans and I look forward to joining Ned in many of the cities across Canada. We hope you will join us on this exciting journey by spreading the word, attending the events – even riding with Ned Bell in a city near you! To learn more visit the website for a full list of events, news and opportunities to get involved. Thanks Canada!

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