As consumers become more aware and engaged in the sourcing of the food they eat, traceabilty initiatives are popping up all over the globe in order to enhance the transparency of the steps involved in food harvesting and production. When it comes to seafood, efforts to trace the origins of locally caught fish have been challenging due to the mixing that often occurs between fish of the same species at landing facilities. However, a few local programs are working to cut through these challenges in order to deliver a transparent, effective means for identifying the source and tracing the steps involved in getting local fish from the sea to your plate.
Down in Rhode Island, a initiative called Trace and Trust is working with local fishermen, farms, and restaurants to trace food from its source to the table. Participating farms and boats in this program can be viewed by clicking here. The “About Us” page on Trace and Trust’s website explains:
“Trace and Trust is a network of food professionals—farmers, fishermen, distributors and chefs — who share a common vision and platform for celebrating the stories behind the dishes they create.
Farmers and fishermen use Trace and Trust to tell their story to those who are preparing and enjoying the fruits of their labor. Chefs use our “foraging network” to select products and suppliers that meet their special criteria. Once these products have been delivered, chefs can easily access training and sales support tools that allow their staff to upsell the associated dishes and banquets. This network, which is developing across the country, is providing an easy, one-stop solution for ordering and for supporting sales of special “Meals with Meaning.”™
No longer do chefs, diners or distributors have to go searching for information about the farmers and fishermen behind their food. With Trace & Trust, it’s all built in.”
Similar programs in Canada, Europe and Iceland allow consumers to log onto their website and trace the origins of the seafood they consume. Check out the Canadian program Ecotrust by clicking here. A simple google search on “Seafood Tracability” will demonstrate how many of these programs are popping up as consumers demand to learn more about the sources of their food.
At the heart of this seafood traceability movement is the emerging issue of valuing quality over quantity when it comes to seafood harvesting. Back in the heyday of fishing in the United States, dollars were made in direct relation to pounds of fish landed. The quality of these fish was secondary to the number of pounds landed by local boats. Now, with increasing consumer awareness and a demand for better quality fish, fishermen are increasingly improving fishing methods aimed at preserving the integrity of each individual fish landed. In turn, fish dealers are placing more scrutiny on the fish they buy, with better prices going to the best preserved fish. A recent article in National Fishermen highlights this trend towards quality over quantity. Check it out by clicking here.