How the New Pacific to Plate Bill is Bringing Good, Clean and Fair Fish to San Diegans

Pacific to Plate Bill San Diego

By Kathryn Rogers and Sarah Shoffler, Slow Food Urban San Diego Board Members

Slow Food Urban San Diego (SFUSD) joined the San Diego Food System Alliance (SDFSA), local fishermen, scientists, government leaders and community partners this week in celebration of local fisheries.

On December 7, 2015, more than 100 fish-loving friends gathered together at the waterfront Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego for inspiring speeches, a lively panel discussion and delicious local seafood served in honor of the recent passage of the “Pacific to Plate” bill AB226. The new bill, sponsored by Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and signed into law in October by Governor Jerry Brown, allows fishermen’s markets to operate as food facilities, vendors to clean their fish for direct sale, and multiple fishermen to organize a market under a single permit. Put simply, the bill makes it easier for fishermen to sell directly to the public, much like farmers can.

Chef Graham Kent, of SoCal Fish, and his staff prep uni shooters for attendees to try

Chef Graham Kent, of SoCal Fish, and his staff prep uni shooters for attendees to try

The process to develop the bill sprung from the early success of Tuna Harbor Dockside Market (THDM), which opened to the public in August 2014 and averaged more than 350 customers and 1.1 tons of seafood sold each week in its first months of operation. Recognizing the potential of a longer-term, direct-to-consumer market (the original operated under a temporary permit), County Supervisor Greg Cox, the County’s Department of Environmental Health, Port Commissioner Bob Nelson, the Unified Port of San Diego, California Sea Grant, NOAA, California Restaurant Association, The Maritime Alliance, California Coastal Conservancy, the local media, fishermen, researchers and supporters collaborated to draft a bill that met the desires of local fishermen and consumers. It received unanimous support in the California Assembly and Senate.

How does the new bill align with Slow Food’s mission of Good, Clean and Fair Food for All?

Good: The bill makes it easier for local fishermen to sell directly to consumers, and eliminates added transit time and processing/freezing compared to seafood imported from other countries or regions. The fish sold at THDM is caught by San Diego fishermen in local waters, most of it coming out of our oceans no more than a couple of days before it ends up in consumers’ kitchens. If you’ve ever tasted fresh caught sea urchin (a San Diego local favorite), you can tell the difference – big time. If you haven’t, get yourself down to THDM for an uni scramble or shooter. Your taste buds may never be the same.

Clean: Local sourcing means a smaller carbon footprint – no added fuel costs for fish flown or trucked to our markets from other states and countries. And US fisheries are among the most stringently regulated the world, meaning that if there’s a problem – either we’re fishing them too fast, there are too few or we’re catching protected species, we are mandated to do something about it. Our fishermen are required to stop fishing, slow fishing, or change fishing practices in some way to ensure we’re fishing sustainably.

Fair: One of the greatest benefits of a true fishermen’s market is that it promotes collaboration among local fishermen. Take it from fisherman Pete Halmay, a member of the Fishermen’s Market Working Group and longtime sea urchin diver:

“One of the best things I’ve seen with this direct market is that every Saturday 10 to 12 fishermen sit down together, work together, to maximize the benefits to the population. They are bringing in a wider variety of fish so each fisherman can generate more sales and bring more diverse options to consumers.”

San Diego’s seafood is wide-ranging indeed. We don’t have just tuna and shrimp (two of the most commonly eaten seafood products in the US) in our waters. Our harbors and oceans are full of rockfish (dozens of species!), crab, lobster and snails, among other smaller fish like sardines, sand dabs, and mackerel.

Manchester Grand Hyatt Executive Chef Sutti Sripolpa and Scripps Mercy Chef Cindy Quinonez admire the wide variety of rockfish available at Tuna Harbor Dockside Market

Manchester Grand Hyatt Executive Chef Sutti Sripolpa and Scripps Mercy Chef Cindy Quinonez admire the wide variety of rockfish available at Tuna Harbor Dockside Market

For All: The direct-to-consumer market allows fishermen to run specials when they catch a big run of fish, passing the abundance onto consumers in the form of lower prices.

The passage of the Pacific to Plate bill is a major milestone in bringing good, clean and fair seafood to all San Diegans. So what’s next?

During Monday’s event, Dr. Theresa Sinicrope Talley, Coastal Specialist for the California Sea Grant Extension at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego moderated an expert panel that raised some important questions about where we can go from here to create an even more sustainable seafood system. Barriers to getting seafood from dock to dish still remain, including:

  1. Lack of infrastructure for San Diego fishermen to offload their catch at local docks.
  2. Logistical constraints including limited market hours (currently Tuna Harbor Dockside Market is only open Saturdays from 8 a.m. until around 1 p.m.) that make it hard from some consumers and chefs to get there.
  3. Limited awareness among locals and visitors that the market exists, where else they can buy local seafood, and how they can prepare the less well known seafood produced locally.

Stay tuned for local efforts to address these issues. In the meantime, SFUSD is seeking local chefs and community partners interested in collaborating on these efforts. Contact us to learn more.

And, be sure to pay a visit to THDM to see these fish tales come to life. While you’re there, make sure to ask your local fishermen for their favorite seafood preparations!

Tuna Harbor Dockside Market

Sharing the Slow Food Spirit with Those in Need This Holiday Season

By Kathryn Rogers, SFUSD Board of Directors

430_5003118The holiday season is a time to celebrate with family and friends. A time to select that perfect gift from a local vendor for someone special. A time to indulge in holiday libations and decadent feasts. A time to give thanks and share a little extra cheer with those in need.

With 1 in 7 San Diego County residents experiencing food insecurity, food distribution programs and meal donations can go a long way in helping families get their basic needs met. Aligned with Slow Food’s vision of Good, Clean and Fair Food for All, here we share our top tips for how to give back to our local community this holiday season.

  • Participating in the San Diego Food Bank’s 2015 Holiday Food Drive by purchasing a pre-filled bag of food at a local Vons, donating online, or hosting a food drive at your workplace or community center.
  • Joining Feeding America San Diego in its goal to raise one million meals for local families in need this holiday season. Learn more about how you can donate your time or dollars on their website.
  • Supporting our local military and veteran community by adopting a military family for the holiday season. When you purchase commissary or grocery cards for your adopted family, you are helping to nourish both their bodies and joyful spirits.
  • Donating a Farm Fresh to You box to a local family in need, bringing the gift of healthy produce to their doorstep.
  • Honoring your friends and family by donating to a local, sustainable food organization or ordering an organic CSA box in their name. This wonderful gift will keep on giving – supporting a healthier, more delicious and just world for them and their neighbors to live in. Check out Suzie’s Farm or San Diego Roots Sustainable Food Project for inspiration.

Here’s to a happy, healthy and nourishing holiday season for all San Diegans!

Kale, Sausage, and Sweet Potato Soup

By Lisa Churchville, SFUSD Member

kale-soupI love a good bowl of soup. I like it steaming hot and full of goodies. I want the soup to delight my taste buds and fill my belly. This hearty soup has a smoky background, with a touch of heat and a touch of sweet.

What you’ll need to serve six people:

  • 1 onion, halved then sliced thin
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 14 oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups peeled, diced sweet potatoes (2-3 small potatoes)
  • 1 bunch green kale, torn off stem into pieces
  • 2 or 3 hot Italian sausages, cooked (It’s important to use fully cooked sausage. You want the sausage to be spicy. If it isn’t fully cooked, the spiciness will drain into the broth and the sausage will taste just like the ground meat.)

Directions:

Drizzle some oil into a big soup pot. Drop in the onion and sauté until soft. Add the ground meat and garlic, and sprinkle in some salt and pepper. Break up the meat while it’s browning. Once the meat is cooked through, add the diced tomatoes with juice, chicken broth, sweet potato, oregano, paprika, and salt. Bring to a boil. Add the kale.

I know this looks like A LOT

raw-kale

 

but it cooks down to this.

cooked-kale

Cover the pot and lower to a simmer for 15-20 minutes until a fork can go through the sweet potato. Add sliced hot Italian sausage and simmer another 5-10 minutes until it’s heated through.

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