Tasting a Bite of Barcelona



La Boqueria Market

Garden of delights at La Boqueria Market in Barcelona

Barcelona is known as a foodie paradise. I expected to love the food there, but my eating experiences on a recent vacation were decidedly mixed. Continue reading

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New Crop of Food Entrepreneurs Are Hungry For Funds

Greater Boston Slow Money Entrepreneurs ShowcaseSlow Money Boston logoSlow Money Boston showcased another exciting crop of food-related entrepreneurs in Cambridge on April 29, 2014.  As always, the entrepreneurs seeking funds were an eclectic bunch, including two farmers, a fermented beverages coop, a grass-fed beef jerky producer, a compost company, and a group building a meat processing facility. Continue reading

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Not Whooping for Wegmans Yet

wegmanslogowtag_largeColorEast coast supermarket chain Wegmans opened its first Boston-area store this morning in Chestnut Hill, Mass., to the ecstatic delight of many shoppers. While I’m intrigued by what they offer,  I’m not ready to sign up for the Wegmans cult just yet. Continue reading

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Wrap-up: Traceability is the New Black

I promise, I won't leave a trace.

I promise, I won’t leave a trace.

As I wandered through the aisles of this year’s Seafood Expo North America, I was surprised but encouraged to see the word “traceable” displayed alongside the word “sustainable” on many booths. Continue reading

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Doing Aquaculture Better

Regal Springs TalipiaAs a pescovegetarian, fish is a huge part of my diet. While I try to eat locally caught fresh fish whenever I can, I know that the oceans cannot sustainably produce enough seafood to supply the escalating demand for protein around the world.  Fortunately, a growing number of farmed fish producers are developing more environmentally and socially approaches to aquaculture. Continue reading

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Candied Salmon Strips, Salted Herring, and Seafood Pasta

Intercambio Smoked Salted HerringAs a seafood-eating vegetarian, I usually have to be very careful about asking if foods contain any meat. So one of the many things I love about coming to the Seafood Expo is being able to eat almost anything displayed! (I do have to watch out for bacon-wrapped scallops and the odd bit of alligator here and there.) Continue reading

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Scenes from Day 2: Seafood Expo North America 2014

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Patrick McMurray Teaches Me about Oysters

Patrick McMurray demos oyster shuckingI’m a relatively recent oyster lover. Growing up in a Kosher home in the Chicago area, oysters weren’t common fare.  My first taste of a raw bivalve was a quahog someone slipped me when I worked as a camp counselor in Massachusetts; I found its slithery texture disgusting. I didn’t indulge in raw fish again until I discovered sushi.  From there, all it took was a single slurp to graduate to oysters. Soon, I was even enjoying my mother-in-law Doris’ delicious oyster dressing. Continue reading

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Verlasso Salmon Continues to Impress

Verlasso SalmonTwo years ago, I wrote about Verlasso Salmon during the International Boston Seafood Show, as it was known then. I went back to talk to the Verlasso folks today and was impressed again by both the clean, fresh flavor of their salmon and by their sustainable practices. Continue reading

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10 Things I Didn’t Know About Aquaculture

Is aquaculture sustainable? Depends on what’s being raised, how and where it’s being produced, and whom you ask.  With over 500 species being farmed all over the world, it’s difficult to generalize. But here are some of the many things I learned from listening to experts Craig Tucker (Research Leader, Agriculture Research Service, USDA), Jesse Trushenski (Assistant Professor, Center for Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences), and Carole Engle (Aquaculture Economist, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff), speak on a March 16 panel at the 2014 Seafood Expo North America.

  1. Aquaculture is rapidly evolving.  Over the last 10-15 years, aquaculture has become more efficient. There’s also been a 50 percent reduction in waste production in the last 10 years, thanks to better solids capture, better waste treatment, and more efficient feeds.
  2. About 75% of the energy used in aquaculture goes into producing and transporting the feed. But the amount of energy use varies by species, from very low use to raise carp to very high use (equivalent to raising cattle in feedlots) to produce shrimp in ponds.
  3. Most of the fish raised around the world are relatively low in energy use.  Aquaculture uses less energy than capture fishery, but raising cattle, wine and poultry requires much more energy than either.
  4. Aquaculture uses less land to produce food than other forms of agriculture, but it varies by species.  For example, raising salmon and trout requires relatively little land, because they consume more fish products (and less grain) in their feed.
  5. The amount of water used for aquaculture also varies. Water use at the facility, as well as water used to produce the feed, can be pretty high. Pond aquaculture uses the most water of any type of agriculture—even more than raising cattle.
  6. Although many people are concerned about the high feed conversion ratio—how much food an animal must consume in order to produce food—the ratio to produce fish averages 1 to 1.5 to 1, compared to 2:1 for poultry, 3:1 for swine, and 8:1 for beef.
  7. Aquaculture consumes about 74% of the fish oil supply and the price of fish meal and fish oil are increasing.   Eventually, it may be hard to get enough supply at any price.
  8. US farmed fish is NOT full of antibiotics.  FDA drug approval for aquaculture is more rigorous than for other animals. Antibiotics are not used as growth promoters in US aquaculture.
  9. Over 94 percent of US aquaculture is run by small farms or small businesses.
  10. Much of US aquaculture occurs in impoverished rural areas. 1 fish farm job equals 4.3 additional jobs in the US economy.
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