A Closer Look at Organic Foods - Part 3

Halibut from The Salmon Shop

The whole premise surrounding organic food makes it really tough for consumers and nutrition expects because there is no clear consensus for what to do. Even as I’m writing this I’m telling you two different things because I’m also conflicted. I don’t want to tell you not to eat organic food because some of it is better for the environment or promotes fair trade between the farmer and consumer. But on the other hand some organic products are a huge marketing ploy, for example Dole bananas. Here’s my advice – eat more fruits and vegetables whether it be organic or not. Try to buy local or sustainable products and just be more conscious regarding where your food is coming from. One step at a time - right?

The best example I can give you is a personal choice I made not to buy fish from grocery stores or more specifically grocery stores that cannot tell me where that piece of fish came from. I want to promote local fishermen while also purchasing quality fish without sacrificing the environment due to overfishing. After speaking to two fishmongers in North Vancouver, here is what I discovered:

Kosta, who runs the Salmon Shop at Lonsdale Quay, personally drives to Port Hardy or Prince Rupert, where the fishermen unload their freshly caught halibut. He individually selects the specific halibut he wants to sell in his shop. What is left at the port is sent to one of the processors and then on to a distributor, who will finally deliver the halibut to nearby grocery stores or supermarkets. Because of this the halibut sold at specialty fish stores will always be fresher since the fishmongers personally buy the best from the fishermen themselves (an example of direct trade). Marcel, owner and operator of The Crab Shop, will also personally catch local crabs during the crab season to be sold directly at The Crab Shop.

Specialty fish stores are also sustainable compared to grocery stores or supermarkets. According to Kosta he wastes nothing. Any leftover fish is turned into scrumptious delicacies for customers at his other store Screaming Mimi’s, or made into dog treats. Kosta also speaks passionately about the waste that comes from supermarkets. He stated that because everyone wants to sell fish the waste is more than ever before, as most retailers will not be able to sell their stock. Marcel also has similar values and transforms his unsold products into prepared seafood, such as fish stock, sausages, sockeye candy or ground pet food - yielding little waste. Marcel also fuels his boat and vehicles with recycled canola oil utilized from the kitchen at The Crab Shop.

Kosta and Marcel both claim that their labels are accurate and will indicate if the seafood is fresh or frozen. Despite the fact that the Save-On-Foods store manager knew very little about fish production he was able to point out that Save-On-Foods has a policy regarding labeling their seafood with SeaChoice labels. At the seafood counter, customers can pick up a brochure that contains a list of sustainable seafood ranked by a colour code. Save-On-Foods uses this same colour code to rank the fish being sold at the store. Not all fish had a SeaChoice label but this is a great start! According to SeaChoice’s website, Safeway has taken similar action but not all grocery stores have made this move towards sustainability.

Ok, so this concludes our organic talk. Thank you for listening. I have a feeling you’ll be hearing more about local/sustainable products in the upcoming years and at least now you’ll be a head of the game!