Keep San Diego Seafood Local

On August 24th, stakeholders of San Diego fisheries began meeting with Protea Waterfront Redevelopment about their plans to redevelop the Downtown waterfront. This meeting was important. That the fishing community is meeting at all with the likely developer may affect whether our local and sustainable seafood industry will persist, diminish or flourish in the redevelopment.

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Fukushima and son, San Diego commercial fishing family.

Learn more about good, clean & fair seafood in San Diego.

The Port of San Diego envisions redeveloping the “Central Embarcadero” an area that includes Tuna Harbor, where the majority of San Diego’s active commercial fishermen dock their boats. “Tuna Harbor is central to San Diego’s cultural history as a fishing community,” says Pete Halmay, San Diego sea urchin fisherman. “It was the hub of San Diego fishing for a 100 years and is central to our local industry today.”

Today, San Diegans have little access to locally-caught seafood, even though we are a waterfront city. The U.S. imports over 90% of its seafood and San Diego fishermen are hard pressed to sell their catch locally. The redevelopment represents an opportunity to invest in our local fisheries and reconnect with our local seafood system. It’s up to the San Diego to commit to this.

Want to help? Write a letter to the Port of San Diego in support of local commercial fisheries and sustainable seafood. Go here.  

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Jordyn, holding 2 San Diego species, red sea urchin and red crab, is from a San Diego fishing family.

While it is still early in the planning process, it is important that we let the Port (and City and County) know now that San Diego wants to support a thriving commercial fishing industry by keeping Tuna Harbor solely as a working fishing harbor. One of the early draft alternatives presented by Protea for Tuna Harbor shows a mixed use harbor, combining fishing with another yacht club. This would reduce the number of slips and total space allocated to fishermen, and create unsafe conditions with little room to maneuver boats and allow for daily boat traffic. Plus, “Creating a mixed-use marina conflicts with the Port Master Plan which delineated this area, among others to commercial fisheries,” says Halmay. The preliminary plan also reduces the size of the on-site processor and sets it back from the water behind retail stores and a taco shop. “Santa Monica Seafood provides vital services to the fishermen: ice, loading dock, crane, etc. We need these things to operate and keep our seafood fresh.” While this plan is only one of several draft alternatives, it reveals the extent to which commercial fishing could again be reduced in San Diego. Setting commercial fishing as a priority in San Diego needs to happen now.
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Local red sea urchin, or uni, a delicacy harvested in local waters.

At the 2nd meeting in September, facilitated by Dr. Theresa Talley of SeaGrant California, stakeholders chose Mike Conroy, of the American Albacore Fishing Association, to Chair future meetings. They also presented their vision of Tuna Harbor, which is a single use harbor for commercial fishing vessels only, including necessary infrastructure like cranes, squid pump, freezer and net mending space plus, signage illustrating San Diego’s fishing history and present, and an open-air fishermen’s market. The vision maintains Santa Monica Seafood and their infrastructure, as well. All intended to support the current and likely future local fishery.

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Sketch of fishermen’s vision for redeveloped Tuna Harbor

Click here for larger version of fishermen’s sketch.

San Diego needs fishermen to harvest our seafood. It’s not much further for us to get to importing 100% of our seafood. The redevelopment of the Central Embarcadero represents an opportunity for San Diego to invest in its fisheries, in its local seafood system, in community. We can make room for more yachts and chain restaurants or we can invest in Good, Clean & Fair Seafood for All. The success of Tuna Harbor Dockside Market, the popularity of restaurants serving local seafood, and the move to eat locally, all point to the potential of our local fisheries.

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More than 40 species of rockfish live off our coast.

Maintaining and improving the fishing infrastructure at Tuna Harbor will keep locally-caught sustainable seafood in San Diego. Keep San Diego Local. Support your local fishermen, and fresh, tasty local seafood.

Watch this video to learn more about the value of San Diego commercial fisheries.

Want to help? Write a letter to the Port of San Diego in support of local commercial fisheries and sustainable seafood. Go here.  

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This man wants you to eat local crab.

Snooze: Celebrate Bacon Day and Support Slow Food

Did you know Saturday September 3rd is International Bacon Day?  Slow Food USA is celebrating the holiday this year with Snooze an A.M. Eatery.  Snooze is throwing a Bacon Day event and donating 10% of their sales Saturday from all of their locations to Slow Food!

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Snooze is a Denver based breakfast restaurant with locations in Colorado, Arizona and California with two locations in San Diego County – one in Hillcrest and one in Del Mar. Snooze operates under values very similar to Slow Food’s Good, Clean and Fair Food For All that they express through their menu, their sourcing practices and their involvement in their communities.

The Snooze menu includes breakfast classics with a twist (e.g., Breakfast Pot Pie, Caprese Benedict, Sweet Potato Pancakes) and they go out of their way to find and create foods that are the intersection of tasty and responsible.  We spoke with their sourcing lead, Spencer Lomax about their approach to souring their food to be Good Clean and Fair.  He says that the bottom line is that they want to serve their guests responsibly sourced and tasty food fulfilling their responsibility to the land, to their customers, to their communities and to Snooze.  They live up to that responsibility by providing real, tasty food that was produced sustainably and locally when it makes sense and by engaging with their local communities.  In San Diego they source from several local companies including Bread & Cie and Jackie’s Jams.  They support several local non-profits ARTS (A Reason to Survive)Bike To WorkMama’s KitchenDining out for LifeHelen Woodward Animal ShelterDel Mar Education School Foundation and the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy.

In honor of Bacon Day Lomax talked specifically about his search for bacon that was both delicious and lived up to the Snooze standards.  Snooze sources their pork from Tender Belly.  Tender Belly is devoted to the well being of the animal through both the environment in which they live and the all natural, vegetarian diets they are fed. As a part of their Bacon Day celebration you can not only enjoy a full special menu full of Tender Belly bacon items you can register to win bacon for a year from Tender Belly.

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Come by one of the Snooze San Diego locations on Saturday to enjoy the awesome bacon menu, visit with our Slow Food Urban San Diego team, and support Slow Food!

Vinavanti Urban Winery Brings Locally Sourced, Craft Wine to San Diego

Vinavanti Urban Winery, San Diego

In a San Diego market overflowing with craft breweries, craft wine could be considered the black sheep (or bottle) of the bunch. Until you try it, that is. Then you just might become a dedicated convert like we are at Slow Food Urban San Diego.

What is craft wine anyway?

According to Eric Van Drunen, winemaker and owner of Vinavanti Urban Winery, “Craft wine is the punk music of the wine world.”

Most makers today have their wines down to a science, adding yeast, sulfites and other flavors to fit a specific “classical” or “pop” flavor profile. Van Drunen, however, takes a truly minimalist approach to winemaking where he adds nothing more than San Diego County grown grapes (they have a great map in the tasting room that shows all the local farms they source from!) and lets nature do its thing. Unique and surprising wines with subtle flavors representative of the grapes and farms where they are grown are the result.

Vinavanti Urban Winery, San Diego

Van Drunen’s Vinavanti label and tasting room evolved out of many hours drinking wine and eating good food with friends. He started buying and blending wines in 2007 to develop flavors that paired well with food and that he could sell at an accessible price. In 2010 he made his own wine for the first time using conventional methods. It turned out so-so. Bored of the limited flavor profiles of traditional wines, in 2011 he made his first natural wine and hasn’t looked back. From there, he continued to refine his process, focusing on doing as little as possible (or nothing at all) beyond sourcing local, organically grown grapes and letting nature and wild yeast do the work in the fermentation process. He bottles his wines unfiltered, highlighting the terroir through distinct colors, textures, and tastes.

Now, five years later, Vinavanti has more than 11 wines on their always evolving tasting menu, ranging from a sparkling Ladona Muscat grown in Pauma Valley that tastes something like a cross between a sour beer and kombucha to their most popular GSM, a rich and smoky blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre grown in Temecula Valley.

So what can you expect when stopping by the only certified organic winery in San Diego?

“We aim to create an environment where you can enjoy a unique tasting experience in an inviting space,” say Van Drunen.

Van Drunen himself is often pouring glasses at the bar and loves to chat about natural winemaking, his background in physics and many topics in between. Community tables make for great social gathering spaces, and romantic two-tops are perfect for quieter date nights. 

Vinavanti is located at 1477 University Ave in Hillcrest, and as Slow Food Urban San Diego’s newest Member Benefits Partner, they offer a 10% discount on wines to card-carrying Slow Food members. Be sure to check them out for weekly specials and events including cellar tours (they ferment most of their wines right in the urban winery) and movie nights, and ask them about their membership program and wines on tap.

Vinavanti Urban Winery, San Diego