Sodexo’s top 3 sustainable sourcing tips

Published on
March 14, 2016

There are too many “rules” about seafood sustainability and the various certification programs contradict each other, Richard Garcia, Sodexo’s national culinary director for sports and leisure of North America, told attendees of the New England Food Show on Monday, 14 March.

The trade show, which runs 13 to 15 March in Boston, Mass., is attended by restaurant operators, chefs, suppliers and others.

“This is a good opportunity to talk to restaurateurs and chefs, breaking down the barriers and focusing on three specific areas that will help them run a more sustainable seafood kitchen without having to really dig into all the scientific research,” Garcia told SeafoodSource before the show.

Here are the top three sustainable seafood sourcing tips, according to Garcia:

1.) Buy U.S. seafood. “A lot of the current recommendations are to buy seafood from other countries; I think that’s crazy,” Garcia said. “The rules say that, if you want to use pollock, then pollock from the North Atlantic is probably the most sustainable to use. But fishermen from Maryland up through Maine are catching pollock as well. If you are on the West Coast, you are probably using Alaskan pollock. We have so much American fish, that we don’t need to be going overseas to buy our product.”

By 2020, Sodexo plans to source 100 percent Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested whitefish for its Maine clients. Today, between 40 percent and 50 percent is purchased from the Gulf of Maine, Garcia said.

Garcia also urged restaurants to buy U.S. seafood because it is often better quality than imported product. “When I’m sourcing an American product, from a scientific perspective, we understand the quotas and what is happening with the fish better than other countries.”

2.) Buy more farmed seafood. “A lot of people tell us that farmed fish is definitely not healthy and sustainable in many cases. We need to start looking at aquaculture in a different light; we are making some big strides,” Garcia said. Restaurant operators and chefs should support farmed mussels and oyster suppliers, for example, because of what the fisheries can do for the ocean, he said. “One oyster can filter up to 20 gallons a day of water – they can clean the water. Plus, you are supporting the local economy,” Garcia said.

3.) Buy more underutilized species. “Forget about the ‘big three’. In the U.S, we are still so focused on eating shrimp, salmon and tuna….we need to focus on creating a demand for other types of fish,” Garcia said.

For example, New England-area restaurants can utilize bluefish, pollock, herring and mackerel, Garcia said. “They are in such abundance, that we should be looking at that. Understand which species are underutilized in your area [and buy them]. It is cheaper to purchase them and there is a story behind them that you can tell your guest – a sustainability story,” he said.

Contributing Editor



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