The National Restaurant Association (NRA) compiles a list each year entitled ”Top 10 Menu Trends”. This list is the most credible list of its kind for the relevance of its participants, nearly 2,000 American Culinary Federation (ACF) chefs, and the innovate information it provides. A large focus of the trends featured on the 2013 list was sustainability and the products and actions that help achieve this. A common theme was sustainable sources of meats, seafood, and produce. (National, 2012.).
Seafood sustainability has become an important topic of the sustainable food movement currently taking place in the food industry. Specific species that are plentiful are purposely fished because they reproduce quickly and are therefore able to keep their population sustained. These fish are generally the smaller type which tend to be lower on the food chain. This is done to replenish the oceans and better manage their resources. (Sustainable, n.d.).
For an operation to be truly sustainable, its impact on the environment must be limited. It must maintain accurate population counts on fish as well as follow regulations that track fish from the boat to the table. A sustainable wild fishery must prevent damage to coastal ecosystems in the form of pollution, disease and other threats. It must not use fishing practices that can be destructive such as by-catching, dredging, using wild-caught fish as feed, etc. as these practices place enormous amounts of strain on wild fish stocks. (Sustainable, n.d.).
A main goal of the seafood sustainability effort is to increase consumer understanding (Seafood, 2013.). Once consumers understand, they can make informed decisions on what they purchase and who they purchase from. Consumers drive the marketplace including that of seafood. Producers will only distribute what they know or feel consumers will buy. This consumer purchasing power makes a huge difference especially when supporting companies with products that are better for the environment. This goes for sustainable fisheries and fish farms as well. The more the consumer chooses to purchase sustainable products including fish, the more these types of products will be supported and produced. (Sustainable, n.d.).
Food service professionals who support the cause can choose to only use sustainable fish as menu ingredients as well as informing and teaching their customers about the origins of their fish and how to make responsible decisions when purchasing seafood products. One way food service professionals can do this is by joining the Seafood Watch Restaurant Program operated by Monterey Bay Aquarium. This program maintains a list of fish rated as “Best Choices” which are abundant and caught or farmed using environmentally safe ways, “Good Alternatives” which are good options, but the methods used to catch or farm the fish may be questionable to some, “Avoid” which are items that are not recommended due to environmentally harmful methods for catching or farming, “Super Green” which is a list of wild and farmed seafood both healthy for human consumption and for the environment. It also provides literature that can be distributed to customers. (Seafood, n.d.). (Sustainable, n.d.).
1. National Restaurant Association unveils What’s Hot in 2013 menu survey. (2012, December 6). Retrieved August 16, 2013, from http://restaurant-hospitality.com/food-trends/nra-top-10-2013-trends-local-sustainable-matter-most
2. Seafood Choices. (2013). Blue Ocean Institute. Retrieved August 16, 2013, from http://blueocean.org/programs/sustainable-seafood-program/seafood-choices/
3. Seafood Watch Business Program. (n.d.). Monterey Bay Aquarium. Retrieved August 16, 2013, from http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/cr_seafoodwatch/sfw_restaurants_partner.aspx
4. Seafood Watch Seafood Recommendations from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. (n.d.). Monterey Bay Aquarium. Retrieved August 16, 2013, from http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/cr_seafoodwatch/sfw_recommendations.aspx
5. Sustainable Seafood. (n.d.). Blooming Foods. Retrieved August 16, 2013, from http://www.bloomingfoods.coop/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&id=63&Itemid=121
6. Sustainable Seafood. (n.d.). National Geographic. Retrieved August 16, 2013, from http://ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/take-action/sustainable-seafood/