By most standards, the United States is a young nation. But its food history is storied, diverse, and notoriously proud. Different regions lay claim to certain foods — some controversially — for their role in helping shape that area’s identity.
From the Hoosier State’s decadent sugar cream pie and San Francisco’s notoriously sour sourdough bread, to Louisiana crawfish boils and Maine lobster, to Chicago’s legendary deep dish pizza and Italian beef, these iconic foods each convey a strong sense of place. Luckily, you don’t have to buy five plane tickets to sample them. All you need is a hearty appetite and an address. (more…)
Recent price hikes in shrimp are largely due to the Early Mortality Syndrome disease in Thailand and Mexico. The sweet and firm crustaceans are the number one seafood import into the U.S., and they account for nearly a quarter of the nation’s seafood consumption. But these numbers do not bode well for the sustainable seafood movement because shrimp is a tough item to source responsibly in the quantities it is currently consumed. (more…)
Any Chicagoan can see that the closest body of water is not anywhere you’d want to go fishing. My sister and brother-in-law went kayaking down the Chicago River last year and probably saw more dead fish than live ones. All that aside, there are some spots in Chicago that take large measures to serve up solid seafood options year round. Here are my ten favorites. (more…)
Co-written with Betsy Suttle
We often don’t know where the food on our plate comes from. When it comes to seafood, this might be particularly true. While U.S. seafood is among the best managed in the world, we import 91 percent of what is consumed in this country. Much of this imported seafood comes from countries with minimal or no effective management in place to ensure healthy stocks, ecosystems, and communities. Aside from the country of origin, U.S. consumers often have no way of knowing how imported fish was caught or produced, or if future fish stocks, ecosystems, and communities are being protected. (more…)
Co-written with Betsy Suttle
With the recent $1.76 million sale of a single bluefin tuna in Tokyo, bluefin tuna – the poster child for sustainable seafood – is front page news again. These apex predators fetch such high prices because their populations are too low to support the demand, primarily fueled by the sushi market.
There are several species of bluefin tuna, and all of the world’s populations have declined dramatically in recent decades. Bluefin tuna are warm-blooded top predators that live for more than 20 years and are slow to mature. Due to their value, bluefin are taken at rates faster than they can repopulate. Many bluefin landed in today’s fleets are younger and smaller animals that haven’t had a chance to reproduce, further reducing their ability to bounce back from the immense fishing pressure. (more…)
With fall officially upon us and the cool weather creeping in, the chowders, cioppinos, and fisherman’s stews grow ever more appealing. The stars of these savory concoctions that warm the soul are usually shellfish known as bivalves — particularly mussels and clams.
What is a bivalve? Bivalves are shellfish consisting of two hinged shells and a soft body, such as oysters, mussels, clams, and scallops. These shellfish provide a slightly sweet taste and chewy texture that perfectly compliments the crunch of farm-fresh vegetables and savory broths from which we make our favorite seafood soups and stews. Bivalves are an excellent source of low-fat protein, vitamin B12, and potassium. They can also be a responsible seafood choice! (more…)
When most of us think of lobster, the image of the bright red crustacean with giant claws strewn out in front, glistening on a plate with a side of melted butter comes to mind. Over the course of the summer, coastal communities all over Southern California celebrate these clawed American or “Maine” lobsters from New England in a series of Lobster Fests. Meanwhile, the clawless, native California spiny lobster is nowhere to be found. (more…)
October 15 marks the start of Florida stone crab season, a special time for the southeastern United States. Perhaps the most sustainable crustacean, Florida stone crabs are unique because once they are wild-caught, only one claw is removed, the crabs are returned to the water, and the claw regenerates. The stone crab’s ability to easily lose its limbs is an evolutionary mechanism to escape from predators. Full regeneration takes about three years. (more…)
For those in the know regarding sustainable seafood, Chilean sea bass (Patagonian toothfish) has become a poster child for red-listed species. Rampant poaching and severe overfishing means Chilean sea bass is often illegally and irresponsibly caught. Known for its flavorful, velvety texture that melts in your mouth, chefs and consumers alike are in love with this fish — making it difficult for some to remove the species from their menus. There are specific stocks that have been certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), but this only adds a higher premium to an already pricy fish (both economically and environmentally). Good news — there is a healthy and sustainable substitute caught off the Pacific and Alaskan coasts year-round! (more…)
Summer is the season for fresh, heart-healthy wild Alaskan salmon. In July, the world’s largest annual sockeye salmon run takes place in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Known as the “salmon lover’s salmon” and celebrated for its brilliant red color and distinct, robust flavor, sockeye from Bristol Bay is naturally rich in heart-healthy Omega 3s. (more…)