Friday, August 8, 2014

Where to Shop for Sustainable Seafood


          One of the reasons I often hear people cite for not shopping sustainably hat they don't have time or it's not convenient. They're busy and want to get all of their grocery shopping done at once, in one place and not have to think about things like farming or sourcing methods. After doing some research (mainly on the websites of major retail stores), I found it's not as difficult as you might think. While I would always suggest supporting your local fisherman and markets whenever possible, there are plenty of major chains (both regional and national) that make it easy to shop responsibly. 


Whole Foods
Whole Foods:  is committed to sustainability and only sells seafood that meets their high standards. In short, you could shop for just about anything at Whole Foods and not have to think or worry about  where it comes from.

Whole Foods collaborates with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), an organization that promotes sustainable fisheries and responsible fishing practices worldwide to help preserve fish stocks. Certified fisheries are able to use the MSC eco-label to signify to consumers that the product was caught using environmentally sound fishing methods and responsible practices.

All of the wild-caught seafood at Whole Foods comes from fisheries that are certified sustainable by the MSC or rated Green or Yellow by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch® program . Whole Foods does not carry Red rated seafood, which indicate the fish is overfished or caught in methods that are harmful to the environment.

All of the farm raised fish at Whole Foods come from farms that meet rigorous standards including no antibiotics, no GMOs or added growth hormones, and minimal impacts on the environment. Whole Foods hires third parties to conduct regular audits of the fish farms they source from to ensure these standards are being met. You can see a complete list of the standards here.

Trader Joe's
In 2010, Trader Joe'spromised that all seafood in stores would be sourced using sustainable methods by 2012. The latest update I could find online was about a year ago (July 2013) with product specific updates for the steps they've taken to improve. These steps include no longer sourcing swordfish from southeast Asia, switching from long line to pole and line caught tuna, and developing standards for farmed shrimp. While it wasn't clear if they met the 2012 goal, they are definitely taking steps in the right direction. I would recommend Trader Joe's as an option for shopping for seafood sustainably, but maybe armed with a bit more information about what to look for and potential red flags.


Wegman's: qualifies for the MSC certification referenced above, and has high standards for both wild caught and farm raised seafood suppliers. In 2009 they began working with Trace Register, a company that recognizes the importance of understanding exactly where food comes from and how it has been raised, caught, harvested, shipped, etc. As of October of 2013, 100% of Wegman's  aquaculture products were completely traceable.

Best practices for wild caught include: meeting all regulatory and licensing quotas recording catches accordingly, all product fully traceable back to the original source, no bisulfites or sodium tripolyphosphates used in processing, etc.

Best practices for farm raised include:  < 3% escapement with improvement goals, < 1.3 lbs of wild fish used in feed to grow 1 lb. of farmed fish, areas under pens are checked for effects from feed/fish waste after each harvest. etc.

All Wegman's suppliers are subject to third party audits to ensure compliance with food safety regulations and Wegmans Best Practices

All seafood products sold in Hannaford stores are fully traceable to the wild fishery or farm, and Hannaford ensures that seafood products sold throughout their stores are harvested in a sustainable manner and only source from fisheries and farms that adhere to policy requirements and minimum standards such as traceability, Wetland Conservation And Biodiversity Protection, Fishmeal and Fish Oil Conservation, and more. 

Hannaford has partnered with third parties like the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and the Global Aquaculture Alliance to ensure that all suppliers are adhering to these minimum standards.
 Greater Boston

Roche Bros
Roche Bros is a local grocery chain based in Wellesley, MA with about twenty stores in Eastern MA. Roche Bros has a program in partnership with local seafood supplier Foley Fish called the Sea Trace Program, which gives consumers more insight into where their seafood comes from. Shoppers can scan the QR (Quick Response) codes for select species to see a photo of the fishing boat, the location fished, and a description of the fishing gear used. Roche Bros also offers plenty of information in-store, including a sustainability video and consumer brochures to help customers learn how their selections are sustainably fished and naturally processed.

This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but rather a starting point. There are countless local shops and suppliers where you can buy local and from the fisherman directly.

Up Next Week: Aquaculture Overview: Sustainable and Responsible Farming Methods

What do you want to read about seafood and / or sustainability? Leave your topic suggestions in the comments section!

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