5 seafood stars at the Fancy Food Show
1. Aquaponics - hydroponics from aquaculture
Butter lettuce with your caviar? An unlikely combination, but one that is being embraced by Tsar Nicoulai Caviar, which, in partnership with the University of California, Davis, has created a closed loop farming system called “The Aquaponics Closed Loop Cycle.”
The concept is simple: Farmed sturgeon swim, eat, and excrete nutrient rich waste and ammonia throughout their life cycle. Macrobes in the water break down the waste to create nitrates as well as macro- and micro-nutrients, which are used to feed hydroponic plants that have their roots dangling in the water. The plants absorb the nutrients and in turn filter the water, which is pumped back to the fish.
Sturgeon is the largest whitefish in the U.S., growing more than seven feet long, and laying thousands of eggs at a time. When supplies became endangered in the Caspian Sea due to overfishing and caviar sourcing, UC Davis established a sturgeon farm just outside of Sacramento, California.
The program's abundant supply of eggs were quickly sourced by Tsar Nicoulai, which became involved in the project not only to sell the beluga caviar, but to smoke the sturgeon, too. The company is the only sturgeon farm in the world to have this controlled sustainable ecosystem. It claims the process has reduced water waste by 70 to 80 percent
Right now, butter lettuce is the plant being cultivated for market, thriving in this fish effluent. There are, in fact, 24,000 plants growing and being fed by the “nutrient stream.”