Friday Faves No. 162

our favorite finds from the front lines of food

Watch as 10 Swedish children ages 3-9 taste test oysters to find out what they really think.

Swedish kids are no strangers to seafood. They even have fish paste in tubes! But how do you get kids to embrace the oyster? Brasserie Lipp thinks they have it figured out; you give it to them for free! (Seafood Source)

OK....now what? What will the Brexit mean for UK food? (Eater)

Questions over the sustainability of wild harvested seaweeds lead to cancellation of the Maine Seaweed Festival. Some of the organizers say a 'Gold Rush mentality' as the product gains popularity threatens the industry's future, but harvesters disagree. Thoughts? (Portland Press Herald)

Chewing Over Our New Idea Of 'Better' Food At The Fancy Food Show This past week we were at the Fancy Food Show in NYC and so was the iconic Clark Wolf. Here is a small taste of his take on the state of specialty foods: "It's a history lesson, a geopolitical reflection and a mouthwatering decent into a foo coma of bounty."  (Forbes) 

Normally eggshells can be disposed of in the garden, crushed up and scattered on flower beds or just thrown into the compost bin, but what do you do when you are a Scotch egg manufacturer facing the problem of how to get rid of 1.5m eggshells a week? You partner with your local university to create a sustainable and cost-effective way to use the shells. (Guardian)

At the first Refugee Food Festival in Paris, chefs in exile show off their skills: From Refugee Chefs, a Taste of Home “Immigrants here are seen in a negative light, as pulling the country down, as having nothing to offer, but in fact they offer a chance to exchange cultures, to bring something positive: The cuisine of a place gives pleasure.” (New York Times)

From noodles to poodles The tastes of China’s consumers are rapidly changing "Brands that promise healthy lifestyles are also thriving. In a recent survey, the top complaint by Chinese consumers was poor food safety and the next biggest grouse was shoddy health care. These attitudes have helped restaurants and supermarkets with names like 'Element Fresh' and 'Pure and Whole' spread like organic mushrooms across the land." (Economist)

As Chinese, Iranian and Indonesian As Apple Pie A great look at the diverse origins of our favorite foods, but this quote is too fun to not call out: "By the turn of the 20th century, pie had become 'the American synonym for prosperity,' as The New York Times proclaimed in a 1902 editorial. 'Pie is the food of the heroic. No pie-eating people can ever be permanently vanquished.'" (NPR, The Salt)

Even Vogue is talking about shrimp: Should We Really Be Eating Shrimp? A simple dinner-party question—should one eat shrimp?—sets off on an ethical and gastronomic journey. (Vogue)

Kellogg’s Is Opening Its First-Ever Permanent Café Dedicated Entirely to Cereal in Times Square Get in line for "cereal innovation and delicious experimentation," otherwise known as cereal from the box with fancified toppings like thyme, white chocolate and matcha (not all in the same bowl). (Laughing Squid)

Friday Faves No. 161

our favorite finds from the front lines of food

Would make a great fitness class: High Speed Mochi (link to video) (Laughing Sqiud)

Buy some vegetables already. For some growers, farmers markets just aren’t what they used to be. "The decline in sales is, arguably, one result of the contemporary farmers market, which has evolved to meet the needs of a new generation of shoppers who view these outdoor markets as more a lifestyle choice than an opportunity to support local agriculture." More sophisticating marketing can help: "But market managers say farmers must also help themselves if they want to survive and thrive in this new era. It’s not enough to simply show up at a market and expect consumers to buy all your gorgeous, freshly harvested stone fruits and greens. Farmers must be attuned to consumer demand and be better marketers and shopkeepers, even at their makeshift outdoor stands." (Washington Post)

There is always room for compassion, and another bakery: Syria’s Beloved Sweet Shops Follow Its Refugees Into Exile "Civil war has scattered Syria’s bakers, pastry chefs, and restaurateurs. For the foodies—and children—in their new communities, it’s a tasty turn of events." (National Geographic)

We're not generally fond of "food as medicine" headlines, but we do love our seaweed. Seaweed Could Help Fight Food Allergies (Food & Wine)

The New York Times is barely dipping its toe in here, but the further we get from the "farmed = bad, wild = good" trap the better. Farming for Fish As leading chefs are turning away from the sea and toward sustainable hatcheries, it seems we’ve just begun to skim the surface of aquaculture (New York Times)

A great new food site for the breakfast obsessed — Extra Crispy with some really fine personal essays like: Soup is the Breakfast of Kings 

The future is in the works, with both rising interest in sustainable food and domestic production in China: International hotel chain starts serving 'low carbon' Chinese salmon (Seafood Source)

Friday Faves No. 160

our favorite finds from the front lines of food

Tribes Create Their Own Food Laws to Stop USDA From Killing Native Food Economies (photo above) From blue corn to bison, narrow federal food-safety codes impact tribal food systems. But advocates are writing their own food laws to preserve Native food sovereignty. (Yes Magazine)

Jamie Oliver Doesn’t Want to Be a Hipster Chef And he's getting an awful lot done. (Munchies)

Aside from fashion, a look at what food can mean to those who have nothing. PHOTOS: An Intimate Look At Las Patronas, The Mexican Women Who Feed Migrants Traveling On La Bestia (Remezcla)

From the vintage files: Care Packages: How The U.S. Won Hearts Through Stomachs After WWII (NPR)

How Small Grocers are Banding Together to Change Food Retail For the Good Cultivating an independent grocery space can be challenging, but a group of retailers are building a collaborative to change the conversation. "These days, there’s a lot of talk about tech incubators, but Mogannam believes that every good retailer can be an incubator too." (Civil Eats)

Why matching fish farming with crop irrigation is a win for parched Southwest Farmers in the Southwest are turning a harsh, dry climate to their advantage by raising fish. (Guardian)

Friday Faves No. 159

our favorite finds from the front lines of food

In the Polished Brands test kitchen and photo studio, we mess with everyone's traditions — like cooking sockeye salmon in a Korean ginger marmalade. And it was good too.

In the Polished Brands test kitchen and photo studio, we mess with everyone's traditions — like cooking sockeye salmon in a Korean ginger marmalade. And it was good too.

An excellent read to talk about trend, class and race issues in the food scene: Putting identity politics on the table "So who’s allowed to cook what? Who defines authenticity? What does it mean when ancient dishes are exploited as trendy, cooked badly, and fashioned by hipsters instead of grandmas? Geopolitical sensitivities flare." And some fine, fighting points: “'I’m a bit annoyed by the ‘at my grandmother’s knee’ stories. I get the significance of lineage, but nobody asks a lawyer if she was at her father’s knee practicing law,' says Tiffani Faison, whose Tiger Mama serves riffs on Southeast Asian food." (Boston Globe)

Denmark Considers Taxing Meat, Calling It An Ethical Responsibility: How can we stop eating our way to a warming planet? "Their initial recommendation is to tax beef. Globally, food productions accounts for up to 29% of emissions. Cattle are responsible for a huge 10%. Taxing beef, they say, could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from food by 20% to 35%." (Fast Company)

Not all food and politics mash-ups are designed to encourage virtue. Largest US food producers ask Congress to shield lobbying activities: United Egg Producers, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and National Pork Producers Council are proposing a change to the Freedom of Information Act. (Guardian)

We don't include items about individual restaurants much, but seriously, it's Alinea, and too cool to resists: A New Alinea Plans to Serve Emotions as Well as Entrees "How do we season with sound? With light? With elements of emotions? For us, that makes the experience more complex and nuanced.” (New York Times)

Food and emotion are no strangers of course. Love might tear us apart, but chickpeas can bring us together: How Hummus Brought a Palestinian and an Israeli Together to Help Refugees in Berlin "I wanted to be a bridge between different cultures. Every time in nature when you combine two things together, you make a new thing that is stronger. The dish you just ate, “hamshuka,” is a mix of the traditional hummus that Jalil’s family has been making for more than 400 years and the shakshuka of my grandmother, with the egg and everything. It’s the bestseller here. Everybody loves it." (Munchies)

And for when you don't want to talk to anyone at all, not even to place an order, Amazon is getting into the restaurant delivery business, at least as a pilot project in some zip codes of San Francisco. 

Friday Faves No. 158

our favorite finds from the front lines of food

The most emotional ad about a strawberry you will every watch. OK, it's really about the epidemic of food waste and how "some 40 percent of all food purchased in the U.S. each year goes uneaten, wasting money, water and energy to the tune of $162 billion." (AdWeek)

The Future of Food Is Lab-Grown, according to some new start-ups. How appetizing they sound runs the gamut, from "fake meat" shrimp made with algae to stem cell meatballs. Sounds like a revolution that's going to be won on messaging and taste.  (Fortune)

Other than seaweed, the new food trend we're seeing everywhere is...weed.  In the Weed: Meet the bakers, chefs and soda makers who are taking the edibles world higher This new wave of products features "weed-infused spicy cheddar crackers, a buzzy iced coffee drink and even steak tartare with truffle oil that's got a little something special." (Tasting Table)

Kickstarter-Funded Chocolate Bar Company Wants to Pay Africans a Decent Wage For Once “There are no Ghanaian workers involved in the traditional or fair-trade production of chocolate (outside cocoa farms) because the production happens outside the continent....Our goal is to bring these jobs to Africa.” (Modern Farmer)

For fruit and veg, suffering might not make them beautiful, but it might make them more nutritious. Beneath An Ugly Outside, Marred Fruit May Pack More Nutrition (NPR)

The slow life of a Cow Cam: Waitrose live-streaming boring videos from the farm. "The strategy is simple: Shoppers want proof of quality food, so why not use modern technology to give them a live look at it? Waitrose does have a good sourcing story to tell, too, having recently become the only supermarket able to guarantee that all the cows that provide its milk and cream have access to grazing." (AdWeek)

Sing Along Snack: Starfish and Coffee

It's never too early or too late for a snack, so crank up that volume on your computer.

Back in the CocoaVino kitchen days, a whole lotta chocolate got made to the sound of Prince. We even named a bonbon Raspberry Beret. 

The loss of Prince is a hard one to bear. Sometimes the only thing you can do is dance it out... with Muppets... and songs about food. 

Starfish and Coffee is a classic. We'll miss you, Prince.

 

Sing Along Snack: America Hipster Food Song

It's never too early or too late for a snack, so crank up that volume on your computer.

 

Oh my....We ran across this very Pet Shop Boys-esque homage to all those out there who seem more interested in taking pictures of their food than actually eating it! Listen closely to the lyrics for a few great gems such as...

I’m just a kid in a candy shop

with culinary dreams that can’t be stopped

On the search for the perfect ingredients

To post on my social medias…

.............

It's unthinkable to dine out and not record it

I want the world to know I can fucking afford it

 

 

 

Friday Faves No. 157

our favorite finds from the front lines of food

Seaweed is good eating, as these wooly beast know. Saving seaside Scottish sheep: The future of a rare, seaweed-eating sheep in Orkney looks more secure, thanks to the work of a new charity. (Country Life)

Figuring out how to get humans to do what's good for them can be a bit more muddled. "It’s nice to see Mark Rylance’s bottom. But our oceans deserve better" Getting celebs to take their kit off won’t change attitudes to overfishing. The public are intelligent beings, not morons who have to be bribed to pay attention. (Guardian)

Traceability in Seafood Chain About Money, Not Just Ethics Not much of a surprise. "But traceability also comes at a cost. Providing the story of the catch means disentangling the seafood supply chain, which involves communicating with harvesters, shippers, wholesalers and retailers on the chain of custody. Buyers might also require some kind of independent third-party certification program." (New York Times)

Rise of the Grocerant with more and more prepared foods sold at retail. And putting restaurant seating in and around retail isn't just for Eataly anymore. “Providing on-trend menus is only the beginning. More retailers are creating in-store areas with seating and table service like a traditional restaurant, if not operating full restaurants in, or adjacent to, their stores. Non-food retailers have proven the success of this model, Johnson notes: in-store foodservice at Nordstrom’s can rake in nearly $1 million in sales a year per unit, and Ikea’s casual dining operations do well over $2 million per store.” (Specialty Food)

Food and fashion cross-pollinate again: Nike Is Releasing a Chicken-and-Waffles-Themed Shoe (Munchies)

Friday Faves No. 156

our favorite finds from the front lines of food

Coffee beans getting ready for your morning at Oakland, CA's own Mr. Espresso.

Coffee beans getting ready for your morning at Oakland, CA's own Mr. Espresso.

First, the good news: Drinking more coffee may undo liver damage from booze (Reuters)

Car and snacks are for everyone as Nascar starts using food sites as an a ad base: "'We wanted to start to talk about Daytona as a day that families get together," said Robert Gottlieb, Fox Sports' evp of marketing. 'It was important for us in framing that conversation to reach into food and lifestyle.'" (AdWeek)

Coupons for millennials: Whole Foods introduces digital coupons to lure more shoppers (Guardian)

From local patriots to beer: Eleven Signs a City Will Succeed "11. They have craft breweries. One final marker, perhaps the most reliable: A city on the way back will have one or more craft breweries, and probably some small distilleries too....A town that has craft breweries also has a certain kind of entrepreneur, and a critical mass of mainly young (except for me) customers. You may think I’m joking, but just try to find an exception." (Atlantic)

Mike Velings: The case for fish farming A great TED talk about a subject that's near and dear to our hearts — the need for developing aquaculture to feed a growing world population.
 

Sing Along Snack: Hoy Es Domingo

It's never too early or too late for a snack, so crank up that volume on your computer.

On a recent trip to Mexico I ran across this very singable and delicious song. I must say that at first I thought it was an ad...but then I just settled in and watched, wishing I could be at any (or all!) of these fabulous Sunday tables.  Not to mention that I'll take any Sunday, or any other day for that matter, with Diego Torres & Ruben Blades!

Destapo un vino en la cocina,
y un buen asado espera en el carbón.
Aunque tengamos mil problemas, hoy descansamos de las penas,
alimentando al corazón.

Hoy, hoy es domingo,
no hay compromisos con el reloj.
Porque hoy, hoy es domingo,

no hay nada mejor.

Friday Faves No. 155

our favorite finds from the front lines of food

For Rockfish, A Tale Of Recovery, Hidden On Menus The slipperiest part of fish is sometimes the name. We have to agree with John Rorapaugh: "And a little tableside education could quickly help consumers get over the unfamiliarity factor, adds John Rorapaugh, owner of a seafood wholesaler and distributor in Washington, D.C., called ProFish. "I think it's more interesting to use the real names," Rorapaugh says. "If you have thornyhead rockfish on the menu, it will start a conversation." (NPR)

Note to seafood producers — time to start upgrading your communication and storytelling “The biggest factors driving the use of farmed seafood in restaurants are pricing, consistency and availability...But chefs still need to be convinced that farming seafood is an ecologically sound practice.” says the report's author. "That data becomes even more interesting when combined with another finding from the survey: 44 percent of participating chefs said they preferred researching seafood sustainability online, versus 33 percent of chefs who preferred getting information from suppliers, vendors and visits to sources." (Seafood Source) 

Oaxaca’s Native Maize Embraced by Top Chefs in U.S. and Europe "In New York, Los Angeles and beyond, a taste for high-quality Mexican food and its earthy centerpiece, the handmade tortilla, has created a small but growing market for the native, or landrace, corn that is central to life in these plains and to Mexican identity." (New York Times)

Nestlé admits slavery in Thailand while fighting child labour lawsuit in Ivory Coast The company has won plaudits for its admission of forced labour in the Thai seafood industry but much of the supply chain remains hidden. (Guardian)

‘Forked’ Rates Restaurants On How They Treat Their Workers "One in 12 working Americans work in this industry, [and] 1 in 2 Americans have worked in [a restaurant] in their lifetime. But it has continued to be one of the absolute lowest paying employers in the U.S. For every year that the Department of Labor lists the 10 worst paid jobs, seven are, every year, restaurant jobs." (KQED)

Friday Faves No. 154

our favorite finds from the front lines of food

The art of the perfect bit goes super-artsy with teeny, tiny food installations, like the one above. (Eater)

Refugees solve farm worker shortage: From Bhutan to New York’s Dairy Heartland "The men were once farmers, and then spent 20 years in refugee camps in Nepal, unable to hold legal jobs. Now they worked wordlessly alongside two other milkers, both Mexican immigrants, in practiced repetition. The raw product would soon supply a cross-cultural dairy case: Siggi’s, an Icelandic-style yogurt; Norman’s kosher Greek yogurt; and eggnog for Pittsford Farms Dairy." (New York Times)

Activists Demand a Bill of Rights for California Farmworkers "Many of the bill’s items – which are grouped into wage theft, safety and health, and overwork – simply demand that existing laws be enforced, like respecting required rest breaks and penalizing employers who steal wages. It also calls for educating farmworkers on their rights and establishing a complaint hotline." (KQED)

A New York food institution that was accessible to all of us fades into the history of a quirkier, more fabulous, and less chain-store dominated Manhattan as Broadway Panhandler prepares to close. “'My first question is, ‘What do you like to cook?’...We can help tailor a purchase to suit a customer’s needs instead of just selling sets. We’re more traditional, with just one store. As independent stores disappear, people are going to remember them fondly.'” (New York Times)

The surprising truth about the ‘food movement’ (which probably isn't that surprising): people like to give the right answers more than they like to do the right thing. (Washington Post)

Shrimp oasis: Sahara desert opens biofloc shrimp farm  "The shrimp farm uses underground salty water beneath the oases of the world’s largest desert. Algeria's portion of the Sahara Desert has an extensive underground water source beneath its sand layers, with a salt concentration of 4~5 percent, suitable for the shrimp farm, ministry officials said." (Yon Hap News via Undercurrent)

Friday Faves No. 153

our favorite finds from the front lines of food

Wishing a good Burns Night to all our Scottish friends! Scotland's beloved poet (above) looking quite delicious. Artist Prudence Staite creates edible portrait of Robert Burns using Scottish Breakfast items for a promo by Toby Carvery restaurants. (Scotsman)

What were all those chickens for if we weren't eating them? Chickens Weren’t Always Dinner for Humans (New York Times)

The sonic meal — how sound influences your food experience. Take a listen and run your own little experiment. (Science Friday)

Seaweed, seaweed everywhere — or at least it seems so to us. We approve. Move Over, Kale: Dulse is the Superfood of the Future (Fast Company)

Why we’ve been hugely underestimating the overfishing of the oceans. "A study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications suggests that the national data many countries have submitted to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has not always accurately reflected the amount of fish actually caught over the past six decades. And the paper indicates that global fishing practices may have been even less sustainable over the past few decades than scientists previously thought." (Washington Post)

From Candy To Juleps, Persians Left Imprint On Many Edible Delights "Iran was the first home of many commonly used herbs, from basil to cilantro, and to scores of familiar preparations, including sweet and sour sauces and almond pastries. We know that quinces, pomegranates, almonds, fenugreek (despite its name), cumin, coriander and mustard seeds went from Iran to the West." (NPR)

Food and Drink Trend lists abound, but this UK-focused list is particularly delightful with quite a few things we hope catch on, from immersive dining to Alpine cuisine and a mead revival. (Drinks Business)

Friday Faves No. 152

our favorite finds from the front lines of food

image via Civil Eats

image via Civil Eats

Oyster farmers and lobstermen are turning to probiotics to fight bacteria that has been wreaking havoc for more than a decade. "The problem of bacterial infections in hatcheries has been worsening over the past decade as the waters of the Northeast warm. Rheault, who is now the president of the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association, says that thanks to climate change, bacterial infections now kill off 10 to 20 percent of the Northeast’s shellfish larvae each year. And because the bacteria, Vibrio, gets into the tanks via seawater, it affects not only shellfish but also lobsters, by turning their shells black and making them impossible to sell." (Civil Eats)

More Hospitals Are Ditching Antibiotics In The Meat They Serve "Hospitals understand antibiotic resistance, and they're being asked to steward their own use of antibiotics. So it's very easy for them to say, 'Livestock producers need to be doing their part, too.' " (NPR)

Nation's first vegan butcher shop to open in Minneapolis "The pair have attracted quite a following since they first started serving up their signature maple glazed bacon, Sriracha brats and other meatless wonders at farmers markets around the Twin Cities in 2014. They spent three years perfecting the recipes, using ingredients such as yeast, soy, juices and a blend of seasonings. The opening of a vegan butcher shop is yet another sign of the rise of fake meat in American diets. Since 2012, sales of plant-based meat alternatives have grown 8 percent, to $553 million annually, according to the market research firm, Mintel." (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

NOAA expands opportunities for U.S. aquaculture: Groundbreaking rule opens the door for seafood farming in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Hopefully the Gulf of Mexico is just a start: "The groundbreaking rule creates a coordinated permitting system for the Gulf of Mexico, opening the door for the region to expand seafood production and create new jobs in an environmentally sustainable manner." (NOAA)

Slow fish: Preventing waste via packaging: BluWrap technology extending product shelf life, reducing carbon footprint of seafood. "He’s making it his mission to get fresh fish off airplanes and onto ocean-bound cargo ships where it may take weeks to reach its destination. And he says he can do it without ice or environmentally unfriendly Styrofoam — lingering symbols of just how antiquated the seafood supply system is in comparison to today’s high-tech world. 'There’s a myth that time is the biggest enemy to fresh proteins,” he said. “But the truth is that oxygen and temperature, not time, threaten freshness.'” (GAA Advocate)

Everything you ever wanted to know about salmon propagation, but were afraid to ask: To Save Its Salmon, California Calls in the Fish Matchmaker. At a hatchery on the Klamath River, biologists are using genetic techniques to reduce inbreeding, though some argue natural methods are more effective. (New York Times)

 

 

A Great Looking New Site in Seafood (if we do say so ourselves)

Seafood importing company Wheeler Seafood came to Polished Brands for a new web site that would speak to the elegant and exclusive book of offerings they were bringing to the North American market.

We helped them by messaging, styling and photographing their exceptional products to create their new site. Catch a peak below, and the full Wheeler Seafood web site here

Friday Faves No. 151

our favorite finds from the front lines of food

How Alabama is Farming its Way to an Oyster Revolution A group of farmers and scientists are stabilizing the Alabama oyster industry by creating their own aquaculture infrastructure. (Civil Eats)

Bring on the beans: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, which declared 2013 the International Year of Quinoa, has declared 2016 to be the International Year of the Pulses (IYP). The ambitious goal: feed, and simultaneously save, the planet. (Restaurant Hospitality)

Is the only way to fight sexism in the kitchen to set up an all-woman shop? One sushi restaurant in Japan has tried it. (Jezebel)

Is cooking school a rip-off? Le Cordon Bleu shuttering North American schools. Heightened federal scrutiny of for-profit programs cited in the decision. (Restaurant Hospitality)

 

See you all in 2016!

 

Sing Along Snacks: Sauerkraut

It's never too early or too late for a snack, so crank up that volume on your computer.

'Tis the season for folksy kitchen fun. Riley Puckett sings about Sauerkraut from way back in 1926.

"When sauerkraut commence to smell, when ye can smell no better,
We put him in that little barrel, way down in the cellar"

We found this gem in the background of a great New York Times video about fermentation guru Sandor Katz: Sandorkraut, A Pickle Maker

 

Friday Faves No. 150

our favorite finds from the front lines of food

Is this the face of the new Scottish "super food" above: What Is This Weird Weed, and Why Are Farmers and Health Nuts So Into It? It's chock full of omega 3's. "The EU this month awarded corn gromwell the status of “Novel Food,” a designation to let consumers know that this might be a new thing, but it’s safe and approved for consumption." (Modern Farmer)

Does story trump product? How Millennials Are Changing Wine "Yet with conventional wisdom holding that millennials don’t care about luxury and aren’t loyal to brands, it’s little wonder that wine producers all over the world—like every other business—are scrambling to figure out what they want." (Wall Street Journal)

Because the young ladies who lunch want artisan pizza, Urban Outfitters adds food to hipster empire with Vetri restaurant group acquisition.  (Restaurant Hospitality)

Entrepreneurs Pitch Sustainable Seafood Ideas; Investors Take The Bait at Fish 2.0  "Entrepreneurs presented ideas that ran the sustainability gamut: Licensing schemes designed to keep local family fishermen on the water; developing consumer-friendly, ready-to-cook sustainable seafood products; collecting old nylon fishing nets to recycle into skateboards and sunglasses; cutting-edge technology to monitor everything from a fishing fleet's location to the storage temperature for its catch; land-based aquaculture solutions; and programs designed to create both jobs and sustenance for tiny remote fishing communities in the Pacific." (NPR)

And in sucky news, the FDA approves GM salmon for sale in the US.  (Wall Street Journal and just about everywhere else)

FIACUI 2015: Aquaculture Forum in Guadalajara, Mexico

from Polly Legendre

I had the pleasure of attending the 10th annual Foro Internaciaonal de Acuicultura (FIACUI) earlier this month in Guadalajara, Mexico. This conference is organized every year by Panaorama Aquicuicola Magazine and provides a lively forum for discussion around issues related to aquaculture across Latin America, and more specifically Mexico.

This year the topic was principally focused on issues of sustainability — in production, practices and the marketplace.

The event kicked off with a live band at the opening reception, so right off the bat I knew that this conference would be special. Throughout the event, I was incredibly impressed with how the organizers could keep so many people engaged from early morning meetings through evening activities. They did this by alternating the important conference topics with dedicated “expo” sessions with the vendors. There was even a sponsored Mexican seafood lunch in the vendor area so that attendees could browse equipment, feeds, etc. without having to forage for food outside the conference. I mean, who would really be interested in leaving the expo area while grilled shrimp brochettes were on hand! To my amazement, on Thursday evening, when the panel discussion went over a full hour with sanding-room-only attendance, everyone stayed to the very end. After the long anticipated last question, the audience was finally rewarded with a full live mariachi band, dancers, margaritas and a seafood buffet, all in celebration of the 10th year anniversary of the FIACUI.

After the two full days of discussions, presentations and vendor expo, FAICUI goers had several options for field trips into the surrounding areas. Of course I chose the aquaculture tour. So, early Saturday morning a group of around 30 of us piled into a private charter bus, then headed southeast about two hours out of Guadalajara towards the small town of Tototlan. Throughout the day we visited catfish and tilapia farms, but what I didn’t expect was a visit to a frog farm!  

We stopped for lunch at a cool little roadside spot at La Barca called “Restaurant El Cortijo.” Here we feasted on whole fried fish, rice and beans and since it is the heart of Jalisco, a lunch time tequila. The family running the restaurant also operated the tilapia and frog farm. They were so proud of their product that they sent me back to the city with a couple of “ranas a la plancha”…yes grill frogs for dinner. This is REAL Mexican farm to table dining!

It was a wonderful trip and an informative conference — from the dynamic guys at SAGAPRA who found time to introduce me to a quick meal at Karne Garibaldi (self-proclaimed the fastest restaurant in the world), to innovative young farmers who want to learn more about branded seafood in Mexico and beyond. I look forward to keeping in touch with new friends and colleagues. There is a lot of potential here and I, for one, look forward to seeing the Mexican aquaculture community come into its own.