Paul Greenberg talks in Halifax

Photo: https://www.prhspeakers.com/speaker/paul-greenberg-2

Afishionado Fishmongers is sponsoring Paul Greenberg to come to Halifax. Paul Greenberg is a best-selling American author, whose 2010 book Four Fish became a must-read on seafood sustainability, drawing widespread praise and winning the James Beard writing and literature award. 2014’s follow-up American Catch examines the paradox of the US importing more than 85% of its seafood despite controlling more ocean than any country. His 2015 TED Talk discusses the irrationality of today’s seafood economy, receiving over 1.5 million views. His 2017 acclaimed documentary The Fish on my Plate highlights his year-long self-experiment eating fish with every meal to determine “What fish should I eat that’s good for me and good for the planet?”. Greenberg is a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellow, a Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation, and a W. K. Kellogg Foundation Food and Society Policy Fellow. More about Paul Greenberg, click HERE

About the Event:

Where: Ondaatje Hall, 6135 University Avenue, Marion McCain Arts & Social Sciences building. 
Date & Time: Thursday, Sep 14th, 7:00 pm

Sponsored by:

The proper way to store fish and shellfish

We often receive questions about the best way to store seafood. Proper food handling is extremely important for guaranteeing quality and safety and is paramount for seafood because it’s often more perishable than other foods. Spoilage can happen quickly. Enzymes within seafood flesh kick start the decaying process, which is further helped by naturally occurring microorganisms. Knowing the best ways to safely store seafood can help to make it last longer, taste its best, and limit any risk of illness!

Ideally, fresh fish and shellfish should be kept between 1.5 to 2˚C. For fresh seafood, make sure you never go under 0˚C or over 4˚C! Check your fridge temperature. You might need to consider turning your fridge temperature down to maximize seafood freshness, but make sure it’s not too cold for other fresh products such as fruits and vegetables. The lucky folks among us will have a separate compartment with a colder setting, but regardless, the following information will let you know how long your catch will last and the best ways to store it:

 

Fresh and Frozen Fish

Most sources such as Health Canada recommend that you consume fresh fish within two days of purchase. However, this time varies depending on how fresh the fish really is. Fish could last for up to four or more days after purchase. When purchasing with from your local fishmonger, the best way to be sure is to just ask what they recommend! A good fishmonger will know when your fish was harvested and how long it’ll last under ideal conditions. Alternatively, when purchasing from grocery stores there is often a best before the date that should be followed.

If you can’t consume your fresh fish in time, freezing is a great option to prolong freshness. Your fish should be packaged so that there is little to no air left ꟷ vacuum packing works wonders ꟷ but if you don’t have one, squeezing as much air out as possible will do the trick. Another option is to fill a container with cold seawater or salted water and place the portions of fish in there to freeze. Take note that fish fattier fish like salmon and mackerel can’t be stored as long as those with little fat such as cod or hake. As a rule of thumb, fattier fish can remain in the freezer for up to 3 months, while low-fat fish can be stored for up to 6 months – in your home freezer. When fish has been stored in a commercial or industrial freezer, it is generally good up to 2 years from being packed!

 

Fresh and Frozen Shellfish

Fresh live shellfish should be stored in the refrigerator in a bowl with a damp cloth or paper towel over top. Any live product should never be stored while submerged in water or sealed in air-tight containers or bags because they’ll soon perish from lack of oxygen! Also, be sure to empty any water that accumulates at the bottom of the bowl ꟷ this is particularly common in mussels as they release a lot of water.

The freshness and quality of your shellfish will depend on how long it can be stored in the fridge. Health Canada suggests that all shellfish be consumed within three days, however, when bought fresh and local from fishmongers like us, we can recommend up to a week for mussels and clams, and up to three weeks for oysters! For fresh scallops and shrimp, we suggest no more than two days.

Whether you have leftovers or just want to save some of your shellfish for later, we recommend you cook your shellfish, or you can remove the meat and store in a freezer bag or container submerged in a brine solution or the cooled liquid that it was cooked in. For oysters specifically, it’s best to shuck the oysters and save the liquid to cover the oysters in. Below are some suggested freezer storing times:

  • Lobster – 3-4 months
  • Scallops – 6 months
  • Mussels – 3-4 months
  • Clams – 3-4 months
  • Oysters – 4-6 months
  • Shrimp – 4-6 months

 

As always, if you ever have any seafood related questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us through our website, or to come have a chat with us in person at the Warehouse at 2867 Isleville Street in Halifax’s North End on Thursdays and Fridays from 11 to 7, during the market day,ans Saturdays from 9-1.

Fresh vs. Frozen – Which is better?

The classic fresh versus frozen debate has taken the world of seafood by storm for decades. In the past, fresh seafood dominated mainly due to frozen seafood—often in the form of mushy fish sticks—having such a poor reputation in the public eye. We think it’s time to debunk the myth and celebrate frozen seafood for its many qualities.

While fresh seafood straight off the boat is undoubtedly top quality, consumers rarely have the opportunity to eat such a luxury. The rise of globalization has led to a large amount of seafood imports here in Atlantic Canada, and fresh seafood may not be as fresh as you think, especially once it’s traveled thousands of miles just to get to your plate. Much of the seafood we consume has actually been imported, and freezing is critical to ensuring freshness. In fact, when seafood is immediately flash frozen—a type of freezing where seafood is frozen between -40˚C to -60˚C degrees extremely quickly—it stays much fresher for much longer. And frozen seafood can be more environmentally friendly, since fresh fish is often shipped by air, requiring more energy than frozen fish, which can travel by boat, rail, or truck.

When you purchase frozen product instead of fresh from small-scale operations you help to support the fishermen and relieve the pressure they face to deliver fresh product immediately after it was caught. Additionally, frozen portions allow consumers to take only what they need from their freezer, and reduce the amount of waste produced in households. Imagine trying to consume this whole Yellowfin Tuna before it goes bad!

Photo: Fishtube.tv

Afishionado sources sustainable handline-caught Yellowfin Tuna from Vietnam and Indonesia that come in convenient eight ounces portioned Saku blocks and steaks, loins, ground meat, or poke pieces. Click to check them out. Frozen seafood is often more affordable than its fresh counterpart and it can be consumed all year long!

Much of the debate between fresh and frozen has also been on the health and nutritional differences between the two. Many people believe that frozen seafood is a lot less nutritionally dense than fresh. The truth is that this difference is minimal. While the water released during thawing does contain some nutrients when thawing is done correctly and if the seafood has been frozen immediately after harvest there, is barely any loss at all. And frozen is often safer to eat because the freezing process kills harmful bacteria!

So yes, if you are living close to the shore and have access to fresh fish that is in season and locally caught, then fresh may be a good option for you, but in all other situations, we feel that frozen can often be a better option.

 

FROZEN PRODUCT 101

A couple tips for ensuring your frozen fish is as fresh and as tasty as possible:

  • Defrost fish in the refrigerator or in a cold-water bath – do not place in warm water as it will impact the texture of the fish.
  • Avoid refreezing fish once it has thawed. From a safety perspective, this is okay to do, but it will comprise the texture of the fish.
  • Know where your seafood is coming from to ensure it has been frozen correctly.

Brandin’ the Bugs

Article: Hana Nelson
Illustration: Scott K MacDonald

How do you make an arthropod world famous? Well, you could brand it. Nova Scotia is certainly committed to the cause.

Nova Scotia recently revealed a provincial seafood brand, and the federal government just granted $325 million to spur innovation in Atlantic Canadian fisheries. Stephen McNeil hinted that a portion of the funds could help create an Atlantic Canadian seafood brand.

Branding poses tremendous opportunities and challenges for our coastal communities. Could it promote price fairness and stability? How can the iconic lobster serve as an economic buoy for our coastal communities? Could a brand promote and protect the province’s owner-operator fishing fleet? How can we rally around lobster to make the world celebrate the quality of Nova Scotia’s seafood?

With landings and sales booming across the province, it’s no wonder there’s an effort to maximize the resource’s value. These are good times after all. In 2016, Canada exported almost a billion kilograms of live lobster and Nova Scotia’s lobster exports were worth just under a billion dollars. But let’s not get carried away. Lobster catches, quality and prices ebb and flow like the ecology of the ecosystems they live in. Only three years ago, the lobster industry was in a slump, with politicians and industry stakeholders meeting in Halifax for the Lobster Value Recovery Summit.

Graeme Gawn, president of the Maritime Fishermen’s Union (MFU) Local 9 in Southwest Nova Scotia, is interested in optimizing the value of the region’s lobster. “We’re interested in adding value to our product and working in partnership with the buying side of the industry to try to get premium prices for quality lobster,” says Gawn. “We’re all about quality.” Prices that reflect seasonality and quality could give an alternative to lobster fishers who often have to hold onto their product until market prices improve.

The brand could also spur cooperation amongst the mostly independent lobster fleet, and instill more pride in the product. “The pricing system should reflect lobster quality,” says Kevin Squires, president of Cape Breton’s MFU Local 6. “Getting an average price for anything we throw in the crate is hardly an incentive to deliver the best quality possible.”

How will branding impact coastal communities? One thing is clear: the brand will certainly benefit from the romantic imagery of small boats and coastal communities. The independent owner-operator fleet still makes up most of Nova Scotia’s lobster fishing effort. The lobster fishery is integral to many other fisheries in Nova Scotia, including haddock, tuna, halibut, scallops and herring. Small-scale fishers work year-round.

Squires believes in cooperation because “it allows current players to be successful, while avoiding the need for industry consolidation.” If a unified brand will represent our lobster, then we need protective regulations along with it. This should mean enforcing Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s owner-operator policy, a policy created to protect the independence of the inshore fishery and which, if enforced, could make it more affordable for the next generation to enter the fishery.

Lobstering is a different game now. Kevin Squires bought a lobster licence for 25 cents in the 1970s. There is limited entry to the fishery now, and licences can cost more than a house. Evan Baker, a 27-year-old owner-operator from East Jeddore, is an exception. Thirty years younger than the industry average, he knows the recent boom might not last. “I don’t see it going up forever. It’s got to level out or go down at some point.” He fishes halibut and herring outside his short lobster season to stay resilient.

Our lobster is world class. A well-structured lobster brand offers an opportunity to promote the independent fleet that so many of our coastal communities and fisheries rely on. There’s no better time to work co-operatively, focus on quality and create fair prices for fishermen and processors alike.

Originally posted in Local Connections, June 10, 2017

http://localconnections.ca/home/nova-scotia-lobster

The Importance of Our Ocean

Our oceans are full of wonder, beauty, diversity, and mystery making them arguably one of the most intriguing ecosystems on Earth. However, if you do not live in proximity to the ocean or have spent time exploring it, its importance may be overlooked. Out of sight, out of mind right?

On Thursday, June 8th, 2017 the world will be celebrating World Oceans Day! Here in Halifax, Nova Scotia we will be also celebrating Oceans Week from June 2-11th. There will be plenty of exciting ocean themed events being carried out in the city and the province. To check out a full list of events click here. Afishionado will also be at the Maritime Museum for the Ocean + You event on June 2nd from 10am-3pm offering a fun, traditional Japanese fish printing activity called Gyotaku!

To kick off this ocean themed week we have provided a list of the 3 reasons the ocean is so important and why everyone should work to conserve and protect it!

1. The ocean is interconnected with the climate and weather

The ocean conveyor belt! Photo: USGS

The oceans play a crucial role in distributing heat throughout the globe, so life does not freeze at the poles or overheat at the equator. As the sun warms the waters, particularly near the equator, the ocean currents work like a conveyor belt to bring warm water from the south to the north and colder water from the north to the south. Additionally, the ocean absorbs approximately a third of the carbon dioxide we release into the air and is an important reservoir of carbon because it holds 54 times more the atmosphere can. Carbon absorption helps to reduce warming on earth because once in the atmosphere it has a greenhouse gas effect and increases as well as varies global temperatures. However, with the amounts of carbon we are releasing the ocean has become very acidic and leads to the death of many species particularly species with calcium carbonate shells like mussels, scallops, and corals. This is why reducing out carbon footprint is important in protecting the oceans.

2. The ocean provides life

Ocean supports a wide variety of species. Photo: VegNews Magazine

Earth is mostly water, around 70 percent to be more exact! When the ocean is heated the water molecules evaporate form clouds that move inland. This causes the clouds to condense and form rain that falls, providing water and life to everything on earth! Without this cycle there would be no life of Earth. Furthermore, the ocean also provides habitat to approximately 2.2 million different species (or so scientists have estimated) in the ocean. Everything from tiny microscopic organisms like plankton swimming in the water column to the largest mammal on earth the Blue Whale. Ensuring our oceans stay healthy and biologically rich will help to ensure the overall ecosystem maintains its productivity and life continues to flourish.

So many seafood choices, but remember to choose sustainably! Photo: FoxNews

3. The ocean provides us with food

Just as the oceans provide a habitat and water for all species on earth, it also provides food for other species and humans alike. Seafood is an important source of protein for many people around the world. Seafood is filled with great sources of protein, unsaturated fatty acids and a variety of necessary vitamins and minerals. To ensure that we have a good source of seafood in the future, choosing to purchase a variety of seafood that is transparent, local, and harvested or produced with low impact on the environment is critical.

Hana’s Year-End (Beginning of the Year!) Update

In my usual fashion, I’m all but three weeks late getting to my year-end update! What a wild year of changes and adaptations it’s been, and it only seems appropriate that it’s taken me well into January just to settle down and do some reflecting.

Last year‘s highlight was a complete pivot at Afishionado. January 1st, 2016 marked the end of our six day a week retail seafood stand venture at Local Source Market. They were great hosts to test out our business model. We knew that local customers wanted access to local, sustainably-harvested and grown seafood. The success of our little bustling seafood stand was proof. I met so many wonderful people, and have forged friendships that will last a lifetime! The support that we received at our humble fish stall helped us launch the next evolution of Afishionado.

While operating the retail stand we realized something very important. While we had many incredibly loyal local customers, it was still difficult to source high quality products when limited to only purchasing from our suppliers twice a week and in small volumes. We were seeing so many stories to tell of the fisheries that we wanted support, but just couldn’t buy in volumes large enough to make it worthwhile for them to go out fishing, or to ask processing plants to keep some products from the express transport trucks heading to Boston for export.

Meanwhile, we were researching and learning a lot from Community Supported Fisheries, like Halifax’s Off the Hook, who worked to overcome these exact same challenges. We kept wondering: how do you shift larger volumes from small-scale, sustainable fisheries to as many local consumers as possible within a short time frame?

We were fortunate to be able to learn from some of Off the Hook’s successes and shortcomings, giving us the confidence to embark on a weekly subscription business of our own. Our first delivery was in March, and I was immediately in awe. Right off the bat we had over 50 people sign up! I couldn’t believe it. It was working! We had enough volume, just once a week, to order in quantities that it mattered. We also had more time. Time to tell people the stories of where their fish was coming from. And more time to go out and search for new supply.

Many of those original 50 subscribers are still with us today, and we’re up to 150 customers. I still can’t believe that we have so many amazing customers who follow us online, and trust in us to bring them high quality, sustainable seafood every week. We couldn’t do it without the community we’re building.

We’ve been able to expand outside of the HRM into the Valley and now to Antigonish. We’re hoping to add Truro, Moncton, and Sackville, NB this year.

A natural evolution of the challenges that we’ve faced was the realization that we needed a processing plant to continue growing and support more small-scale sustainable fisheries. While we knew there were products out there that we wanted to bring in and tell the story of, seafood in this part of the world is at the whim of a complicated supply chain and burdensome regulations, all of which requires that product goes through a CFIA-registered plant even for sales within Nova Scotia.

Many of Nova Scotia’s small-scale fisheries and sustainable aquaculture operations haven’t achieved scale to attract the attention of existing processing plants. They operate at small volumes that existing processing plants can’t or simply don’t want to accommodate. With upwards of 90% of Nova Scotia’s seafood leaving the province, and much of it unable to connect to market, we found that in order to source product, we needed to be able to handle it all by physically intervening in the marketplace.

So this month, we began to operate a CFIA-certified processing facility in Millbrook, NS. It’s exciting to begin to overcome some of the challenges that we see facing the Nova Scotia fishing industry, and to move more towards a high-value, storied, transparent, and fair seafood exchange right here in Nova Scotia. Our ongoing growth is proof that there are people who want this type of seafood, and that we don’t have to only rely on the traditional Nova Scotia paradigm of high volume, low value exports. We can and will promote more small-scale fisheries and aquaculture operations in this province. It will be the biggest challenged we’ve faced, but we’re ready with our amazing five-person team to get more Nova Scotian seafood cross Canada.

We’re also excited that this year we’ve been chosen as a Top 25 company in Canada for SheEO, a venture capital fund for female-led and run businesses. Only 4% of venture capital funding currently goes to female-led businesses! Yet over two thirds of new businesses are started by women.

SheEO is trying to overcome that, representing “a new model of wealth creation that uses the power of relationships to upend these challenges and turn them into new possibilities. Through the $1000 contributions of thousands of radically generous women, SheEO invests in a small number of women-led, socially positive ventures, and actively supports them with zero percent interest loans, a guided development program, and access to a global network of female investors, advisors, and customers. Through this approach, women entrepreneurs not only access needed capital, they are also guided in the business strategy and leadership development so necessary for sustained success – and they have access to the mentorship, expertise, and networks of thousands of She-EO members.”

Thank you again for all support and interest and we’re excited to share with you everything 2017 brings!

Hana

Realizing the Value of Our Local Fisheries

Article: Hana Nelson
Illustration: Scott MacDonald

When it comes to seafood in Nova Scotia, many of us think that a fish is a fish is a fish. But an increasing focus on export and commodity markets in Nova Scotia is stripping the identity and value away from our seafood. So how do we maximize the value of our small-scale, community-based fisheries and aquaculture operations?

Here in Nova Scotia, we have some of the best ocean access in the world. We have over 13 thousand kilometers of coastline where small-scale, community-based fishers use age-old and low-impact fishing methods. We have emerging world-class aquaculture producers, too, from land-based recirculating aquaculture systems to low-impact, community-based shellfish farms.

With over $1.6 billion in seafood exports, Nova Scotia is Canada’s number one seafood exporter. But it’s becoming increasingly difficult to retain the value of our seafood in Nova Scotia when the majority of our premium fish are exported in a faceless, global commodity market. According to One Nova Scotia’s 2015 report, Now or Never: An Urgent Call to Nova Scotians, over 90 per cent of Nova Scotia’s seafood is exported to foreign markets, often with little domestic processing before it goes abroad.

Consider one of Nova Scotia’s seafood poster children: haddock. Haddock exports represent the most significant loss of value in any groundfish species in our province. Less than 6 per cent of the exported weight of haddock is as fillets. Instead, fish is shipped out whole to be processed somewhere else. By not processing it here in Nova Scotia, we lost over $7 million in direct export revenue in 2011 alone, and that doesn’t take into account the loss of associated economic activity from employment in the processing sector.

Small retailers can’t step in and change this because our provincial government maintains antiquated fish processing regulations that are a direct consequence of this commodity market export focus. New and innovative businesses like ours (Afishionado) can’t access some types of fish we want, let alone fillet it. There is a moratorium on groundfish processing licences, so we have to rely on the increasingly scarce supply of community-based processors who can cut haddock for us and who are also under duress.

Let’s be clear: exporting isn’t bad. We’ve relied on it for centuries and will continue to do so. The tricky thing is, however, when we focus exclusively on the bulk commodity market without telling the story of our seafood — and celebrating it — we lose value, we lose identity and we lose the opportunity for local access. The haddock you eat in fish and chip shops throughout the province was probably caught here but sent on a worldwide odyssey where it was cut abroad, most likely China, and frozen twice before returning to the province.

This message really hit home recently when, sadly, one of our shellfish suppliers drowned while on the water. There are inherent dangers to life on the sea. But if our producers are competing on a convoluted and faceless commodity market, then is it really worth it to brave the perils of the sea? Cheap prices devalue the reality of their livelihoods.

We need to process our own seafood so that we can tell its story and celebrate the communities where it came from. If we want to benefit from place-based marketing, then we need to be able to access that product here in Nova Scotia. Consumers abroad need to be able to distinguish our products in the convoluted global commodity market. We have a robust, independent inshore fleet that could be back out on the water fishing.

Nova Scotia has the story. We have coastal communities that would benefit from branding and storytelling. We can embrace and celebrate a culture that has sustained our province’s growth for centuries. If we don’t have the ability to distinguish a fish by how or where it was caught or grown, or on what scale it was caught or grown and by whom, then we’ll just be another producer of commodities stripping value from our beautiful seafood resource.

Originally published in Local Connections Halifax, January 3, 2017.

http://localconnections.ca/home/local-fisheries

 

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