Fighting Fraud in Seafood
In the past couple days we've had some inquiries and have been asked to speak out in relation to the recent Associated Press investigative report that alleges that a well known seafood distributor - Sea to Table - was found to be selling fraudulent fish to consumers.
While we would like to say this happens rarely in the seafood industry - the reality is that it happens every day, and it's heartbreaking. It's even more heartbreaking when it comes from a company that built itself on a foundation of sustainability and traceability.
The United States has some of the loosest laws and regulations requiring proper labeling and traceability in seafood products - we need to do more.
Stories like these are what motivated us to dive right into the seafood world and to work passionately and diligently to connect directly with our hard working fishermen and women. Stories like this renew our conviction as to how and why we do things the way we do - even if the work is greater and the margins are lower. We chose this path because we believe the mission we are on will impact us not just locally, but across the globe.
We had the opportunity to collaborate with Sea To Table earlier this year in an effort to expand our offerings to East Coast fish; however, the deal seemed too good to be true and we declined to continue the relationship after they were reluctant to share traceability information - something that is very easy to do if you are actually working with commercial fishing boats.
We will not extrapolate on the issues discussed in the article as they are varied and troubling, please refer the the original article by AP here if you would like to learn more.
What we will speak to is the importance of knowing the source of your food and the conditions under which it was raised and harvested.
HOW DO I FIGHT FRAUD AT HOME?
The best way to know the source of your food is to ask questions - even if you aren't buying your seafood from us!
Ask your grocer or fish monger where do they source their seafood (do they know?)
Ask them about the seasonality of the fish that you are buying - is it in season, do they know when it was caught (this is a big tip off!) if someone is selling local king salmon when it is not in season and they aren't upfront about it being refreshed (aka frozen then thawed) then be suspicious!
Ask if there are local alternatives to fish that has been imported - grocery stores only supply what sells - if their consumers demand local sustainable seafood that is what they will begin to offer!
A knowledgable consumer is an empowered consumer, by engaging with your purveyors and asking questions you control the market.
Become involved in your local seafood community, join our events, reach out and ask questions about the seafood you are eating and about local environmental projects to get involved in.
Meet your fishermen!
Here at FreshCatch we have a 100% transparent supply chain which means that you can always call us directly and ask us questions about any of our products and in addition to that we will always provide you the opportunity to meet and talk with our partner boats and farmers to answer any further questions that you may have. We have several partner boats in San Francisco and Half Moon Bay that are easily accessible!
The most important work we do here at FreshCatch is in sharing stories of our hard working sustainable harvesters and building a community of like-minded seafood loving advocates that care enough about these issues to reach out, ask questions, and share.
By sharing your good seafood buying habits with your friends, family, and neighbors you set the stage for what we can accomplish as a community.
We thank you for your support and hope these tips offer some helpful guides when navigating the murky waters of the seafood world.
On a parting note - some wise words shared from our friend Anna Larsen from Boat Direct Consulting which struck close to home for us -
"Sometimes the best fish on the menu is no fish at all."
Remember: Whenever in doubt - reach out!