Editor’s note: We kicked off our first annual Food Loves Tech event last summer in Chelsea—here’s a recap. We’re bringing a taste of the food and farming future back this year, but just across the East River at Industry City. This story is part of an ongoing series about technology’s effects on our food supply.
While “eat local” and “know your farmer” have become mainstream mantras, seafood is palpably absent from many people’s conception of food systems and food communities. As Elizabeth Dunn reported in our most recent issue, rarely does a fisherman sell his fish directly to a consumer, which widens the gap between fisher and eater and obscures the idea of a cohesive system. More commonly, once a catch of fish lands, it travels between a series of mid-chain players who may be dealers, processors, trans-continental flights, traders, wholesalers and finally retailers of some sort. Only then does it make its way onto somebody’s plate.
But that is slowly changing. Community-supported fisheries (CSFs) and other direct-to-consumer models have been gaining traction as consumers seek alternatives to the murky supply chains that underlie most fish. These efforts are highlighted in a recent call to action and video by Local Catch, EcoTrust and the Community Fisheries Network encouraging consumers to “Know Your Fisherman.”
So how can you find your local fisherman? LocalCatch.org is a community-of-practice “committed to providing local, healthful, low-impact and economically sustainable seafood” directly to consumers in order to support healthy fisheries and fishing communities. Josh Stoll, who founded Local Catch in 2011, says the network “was created as a platform for fishermen, community organizers and technical assistance providers who are engaged in re-localizing the seafood system to exchange ideas and challenges and learn from each other.” The network began six years ago with a small handful of CSFs, and has grown to include over 75 seafood businesses with pick-up locations in 400+ neighborhoods.
Local Catch recently released a new Seafood Finder map where consumers can find where to buy fresh seafood in their neighborhoods. In New York, Mermaid’s Garden has locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan and runs both a fish market and CSF. Iliamna Fish Company brings wild sockeye salmon from Bristol Bay near the mouth of the Kvichak River to NYC consumers through its long-standing CSF. Dock to Dish, founded in Montauk New York, connects chefs and members of its cooperatives to fresh, wild, and traceable seafood caught by small-scale fishermen.
“If you want ultra-high quality seafood, there isn’t a better way to get it than directly from your local community supported fishery,” Stoll says. “The fact that people in this network are also fighting to sustain our fisheries and working tirelessly to ensure that our communities have access to healthy food is just an added bonus.”