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Eating More Sustainably in 2017, Part 2


Thursday, January 05, 2017

Minimizing Seafood Waste at the Consumer Level

Fish on a plate

In Part 1, we introduced the need to increase food production. The world population is expected to reach nearly 10 billion by 2050. However, due to limited resources, it is not enough to increase our net production simply by producing more land-based food. Thus, we highlighted the potential efficacy of increasing net calorie production for the growing world population by switching to less land-intensive resources, such as seafood. Another viable way to increase food production is to decrease the gaps in food production and supply chain through which food is lost.

Approximately 40 percent of the food in the American food supply is wasted. The gaps through which we lose food can be located anywhere along the supply chain, from crop harvesting to underutilizing edible food parts, to leftover dinners tossed in the garbage. Research suggests that the amount of seafood waste is even higher, at up to 47 percent. More than half of the seafood wasted is at the consumer level, suggesting that if we consumers make small changes in the way we buy and prepare seafood, we can decrease the amount of seafood lost.

Here are some simple steps to ensure that you get the health benefits from seafood, while saving the planet and your wallet:

  • Be cautious of spoilage: One of the most challenging issues with keeping seafood is that it spoils easily. You can prevent seafood loss due to spoilage by being aware of the shelf life of seafood.
  • Freeze your food: If your seafood is about to spoil, or needs to be kept for a long time, freezing your seafood can increase its longevity. While there are different ways to freeze different seafood, in general, mollusks should be shucked before freezing and fish should be descaled, gutted, and deboned.
  • Make stock: Use uncommonly used parts of the seafood to make seafood stock. For example, this recipe calls for shrimp shells.
  • Make compost: Seafood waste is still rich with nutrients that can be used in your garden, so use the remains for nutrient-dense compost.

Of course, there are many other stages of the supply chain through which we lose seafood. One way to reduce these losses is to buy seafood directly from the fishermen and fish farmers, which allows us to:

  • Reduce the length of the supply chain to minimize the losses through various steps of the supply chain.
  • Get cheaper fish: Buying whole seafood directly from the fisher is generally cheaper than buying fish that has gone through additional steps to be processed and prepared.
  • Reduce the risk of fish fraud: Fish fraud is a global problem in which fish are intentionally or unintentionally mislabeled. This means that illegally caught fish can enter the supply chain and that consumers can be cheated by deceiving them and making them think they are paying for a more expensive fish.

Check out these local fisherman’s markets where you can buy seafood directly from fishermen:

The Dory Fleet - Newport Beach
Ventura Harbor Fisherman’s Market
West Caught Fish Company – Newport Beach
Tuna Harbor
Santa Barbara Fisherman’s Market
Community Seafood - Santa Barbara

Our conscious efforts at the individual level to get the most out of our seafood not only saves our wallets, but also reduces seafood waste, ensuring that we can continue to sustainably eat seafood in the future.


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