I just got back from southern Mexico — Oaxaca to be specific. What an amazing place. Friendly people, loads of culture and history, and amazing cuisine. I haven’t had time to cook much over the past few years, but I got into cooking Oaxacan cuisine after my first visit in 1996. I got recipes from one of my favorite American chefs, Rick Bayless of Topolobampbo and Frontera Grill in Chicago. So before my return to Oaxaca, I visited his website for recommendations and found something even better. He has a great section on sustainability in the restaurant industry, including sustainable seafood. This is the philosophy all chefs should follow:
Seafood products that are caught or raised in an environmentally sensitive manner not only benefit the health of the oceans, but also provide many opportunities to improve the growth and sustainability of seafood businesses and restaurants such as ours.
To determine whether a fishery is environmentally sustainable, we can look into the following factors: how abundant a species of fish is, how many fish are being caught, what other types of marine life are caught with the fish, whether endangered species are harmed, and what effects the fishing gear has on ocean habitats. For farmed seafood, we can look into the type of system used to farm the fish, whether the farms release pollution in the water, what types of chemicals are used, the amount of wild fish used as feed, and whether the farmed species is native to where it is raised.
Seafood harvested or raised in a sustainable way, often has superior taste, freshness and quality. Seafood products that are abundant and well managed are worth the time and money we spend at Frontera Grill to retain these products in order provide them to our guests. We can all do our part and play a critical role in protecting the marine environment now and for future generations.
I’m hoping to visit Chicago soon – when I do, I’m sure I’ll be found at Fronter Grill at some point. I can already taste the margarita and the mango guacamole.