Fish are in a tight spot. Between changing ecosystems and fluctuating health, their populations are endangered — and along with these concerns go others related to the industrial seafood system. Coastal erosion, privatization, bad pricing practices, and other obstacles further complicate fish life and human life alike. It might sound strange, but the livelihoods of fish and the people who eat them are linked. To mitigate these problems and to build good, clean, and fair seafood values, Slow Fish 2016 will welcome forward-thinking fishermen, chefs, and diners to New Orleans this week.
This “revol-ocean” is supported by Slow Fish International and will be the fish-focused feature of this week’s Slow Food New Orleans gathering. Attendees will include food lovers, student activists, Slow Food USA chapters, nonprofit organizations, musicians, and local businesses from around the country and the world. Some of these attendees will share stories about how they’ve overcome obstacles in their watersheds to bring their communities closer to their seafood. Slow Food New Orleans is part of the national Slow Food USA, and international, Slow Food International, movements dedicated to honoring food producers, protecting the land and waters we love, increasing food access, and celebrating our cultural diversity.
Slow food may be a familiar concept — or, if you’re just hearing of it for the first time, an agreeable new one — but what exactly is Slow Fish? Against the tide of fast food and the globalized industrialization of our seafood system, it strives to preserve traditional and regional cuisine. It strengthens relationships between fishermen, the public, and those along the seafood value chain. In a world where over 90% of the seafood consumed in the United States is imported and often mislabeled, Slow Fish aims to restore connections and trust between community-based fishermen, chefs, and the public.
Slow Fish communities identify common challenges, such as cheap imported fish and shellfish or coastal erosion, and develop effective solutions. The goal is to help coastal communities re-frame the story of our oceans and realize our vision of a healthy seafood system that makes local sustainable seafood available at a fair price while supporting local fishermen.
The movement has already been successful. Two years ago, organizers got the University of New Hampshire, which is among the largest food purchasers in the state, to sign onto a set of Slow Fish Seafood Principles, committing the institution to shift millions of dollars in seafood purchases. Like-minded organizations all over are pushing for local food guarantees and building the systems that can support institutional purchasing from local suppliers. It seems the time is right for Slow Fish.
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