As a dedicated pescovegetarian, I manage to find seafood wherever I go—even at a garden show!
Bell Aquaculture is an Indiana-based company that farms, fillets, and sells yellow perch. They use the leftovers from processing the fish to produce an organic liquid plant fertilizer, which they market as “Fish Rich Fertilizer” and sell nationally.
Since I like using fish-based fertilizer, I stopped to take a look at Fish Rich while trolling the aisles at New England Grows, the annual horticultural and green industry trade show, on February 7. New England Grows isn’t a consumer show, but I attended because Good Egg Marketing is promoting Plant Something MA on behalf of our new clients, the Massachusetts Flower Growers Association and the Massachusetts Nursery and Landscape Association.
Mike Hickerson, Bell Aquaculture Director of Sales, told me that yellow perch is a Great Lakes fish and that “80 percent of the wild yellow perch is sold within 50 miles of the Great Lakes.” Even though I grew up in the Chicago area, I don’t recall ever eating yellow perch. He described it as a white, flaky fish with a mild, sweet taste. Bell Aquaculture wholesales the fish to distributors, like Sysco, and restaurants. Their fish is primarily available in the Midwest, but they’re planning to scale up and increase distribution.
Although I generally prefer to buy wild-caught fish whenever I can, the wild fish supply is dwindling and we need to supplement it with responsibly farmed fish. In addition to making excellent use of fish waste to create fertilizer, Bell Aquaculture uses very little wild fish or fish meal in its feed, which reduces its impact on the fish population.
One of the challenges of fish farming is cleaning the fish poop out of the water. A lot of fish farming takes place in coastal areas, and the waste and leftover food particles end up polluting streams and oceans. Bell Aquaculture uses an indoor recirculating system to raise the fish, which minimizes its water usage and keeps the farmed fish population isolated from the wild supply.
Hickerson also told me that the company is starting to grow vegetables using the effluent water as a nutrient. I’ve always loved the concept of aquaponics. I can’t understand why more farms don’t raise fish.
Hmm, fish and vegetables growing together – sounds like pescovegetarian paradise to me.