How Global Trends Are Influencing Our Food Habits

Current market assessments strongly suggest that seafood consumption will rise year over year. According to Foodable Labs, food influencers have increased their references to seafood by 24.7 percent—a surge larger than any other protein.  Consumers under the age of 40 now constitute almost 40 percent of the United States, and they are searching for new types of protein that are nutritious, responsibly sourced, and carefully prepared.

At the last Foodable.io event in Seattle, Paul Barron hosted a panel discussing the latest seafood trends with three rising chefs in the industry: Keith Brunell, corporate chef at retail and food and beverage giant Nordstrom, Derek Simcik, the executive chef at rooftop bar Scout and The Nest (part of the boutique hotel Thompson Seattle), and Lionel Uddipa, the chef de cuisine for new American restaurant Salt in Juneau, Alaska.

Sustainability is no longer a trend: for many restaurants, it is becoming a necessity and an integral part of day-to-day operations. More and more customers want to know where products come from and how they are sourced and handled—and they want to keep the flavor compositions simple and truly taste the fish itself. Customization and accommodation options also popular to ensure that every consumer receives a dish that meets the needs of their preferred diet.

“As far as the cooking technique, we don’t do a lot. We try to serve the dish in its most purest form,” says Uddipa. “We’ve learned that if you have a story associated with the dish, the customer tends to pinpoint that. They understand and are amazed by the vision and the creation that went into the dish.”

To learn more about the latest trends and educating both consumers and cooks regarding seafood preparation, listen to the full episode of the podcast above.

How Seafood Can Improve Mental Wellness

In the U.S., one in five Americans suffer from mental health issues each day, which is over 40 million Americans. Almost half of adults (46.4 percent) will experience a mental illness during their lifetime. Unfortunately, the mental health crisis has been on a steady incline.

Your diet not only makes an impact on your physical health but also on your mental health.

With that in mind, at the last Foodable.io event in Seattle, there was a panel solely focused on mental health and the role a healthy diet plays.

We gathered three nutrition experts including Linda Cornish, president of the Seafood Nutrition Partnership, Dr. Tom Brenna, director at Seafood Nutrition Partnership, and Lionel Uddippa, chef de cuisine at Salt in Alaska to see how a rich seafood diet, in particular, has been proven to help improve mental health.

Seafood has been shown to reduce symptoms of schizophrenia, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and other mental disorders. Specifically, people who regularly eat fish are 20 percent less likely than their peers to experience depression. The American Psychiatric Association has even endorsed the fatty acids in fish as an effective part of depression treatment.

"The brain is fundamentally an omega-3 organ, it's richer in omega-3 than any other organ in the body...the effects of omega-3 EPA in depression specifically have been very consistent where those diagnosed with major depression using omega-3 rich oils have seen a consistent alleviation of symptoms," says Dr. Brenna.

Listen to the full podcast episode above to learn more about how seafood can make a positive impact on mental health and how the chef community can support itself and its customers through the food it serves.

Sustainability-Focused Brands Share Best Practices

Thanks to today's technology and data analytics, we are well aware of the impact we have on our environment. But knowledge is power.

Brands across the country now have teams dedicated to improving sustainable practices, all committed to a larger mission to reduce their carbon footprint.

At the Foodable.io Seattle event, we sat down with three sustainability experts– Jessica Myer, environmental specialist for Ste Michelle Wine Estates, Julia Person, sustainability and manager for Kona Brewing, and Nelly Hand, founder & and fisherman to learn about each of their roles and how their brands are providing eco-friendly solutions.

But to make sure that sustainable practices are being universally used within a business isn't always easy.

"As we grow as a company and our sustainable practices are actually coming into fruition, our biggest challenge is that our locations in eastern Washington and Oregon are very rural, so we don't have access to the recycling seen in Seattle or Portland. The city of Walla Walla (in Washington) doesn't have any glass recycling, which seems insane. But we have to find innovative ways to get our products recycled," says Myer. "Another thing is the plastic challenge. We are having to sometimes paid to recycle our plastic now, which is not necessarily sustainable for a business but we want to make sure we're doing the right thing."

This movement encompasses much more than recycling. There's water conservation, alternative power sources, fishing techniques, and harvesting practices– that all make an impact on our planet and its resources.

Listen to the full episode above to learn more about how these brands are looking for new ways to be more eco-friendly, while also closing the loop on consumers demands around full sustainability and responsibility from all sides.

What is the Real Cost of Protein?

With headlines published in the media like "Two-Thirds of the World's Seafood is Over-fished" and "Science Study Predicts the Collapse of All Seafood Fisheries by 2050," what is really the state of the ecosystems in the Earth's oceans?

Will we deplete the ocean's resources in the near future? or do we have time to make adaptions to ensure the vitality of fisheries?

At the Foodable.io event in Seattle, Foodable Host Yareli Quintana sat down with Dr. Ray Hilborn, professor of Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington who has been researching the topic of conservation and quantitative population dynamics of seafood for the last eight years.

Hilborn starts out by pointing out that there a two environmental challenges when it comes to seafood supply.

First, it's the substantial fuel used to catch the fish, which generates carbon foot and then, the impact on biodiversity. As specific fish populations continue to be caught, this is changing the ecosystem of the ocean.

The seafood conservation expert also clears up a common misconception that our ocean is being depleted.

"Within the last 20 years the abundance of stock has really turned around in many places, there are certainly exceptions where that's not true though," says Hilborn.

But that doesn't mean that chefs shouldn't be concerned about what fish product that they are serving.

Each type of seafood makes a different impact on the environment. For example, Maine lobster generates a lot of energy to catch, while sardines, oysters, and mussels, on the other hand, make a really low impact.

Oyster and mussels feed themselves and most of the environmental cost comes from feed production.

Then there's the problem of food waste, which is a challenge for restaurants, but more so, for consumers eating at home.

"One of the big issues of fish and food, in general, is waste. Globally, about 30 percent of food is wasted. In rich countries like the U.S., that's mostly at home...So it's important to be more careful about making sure you buy what you need and use it," says Hilborn.

Watch the Seafood Talk Session above to learn more about the sustainability, research and management practices that are being worked on and adjusted every day in order to do right by nature and to feed the masses.

Ensuring the Vitality of our Fish Supply for Years to Come is a Group Effort

It has become more important for restaurants to be socially responsible when it comes to serving seafood.

To ensure the vitality of our fish supply, we need to evolve our relationship with the ocean’s resources.

But how can suppliers and operators work together to achieve this common goal?

At our recent Foodable.io event in Seattle which was focused on the topic of seafood sustainability, we sat down with Jennifer Bushman, director of sustainability at Pacific Catch, Kami Couch, a filmmaker/fisherman from Alaska, and David Nichols, executive chef at Rider to discuss how each in different roles of the seafood supply process are making a sustainable impact.

Nowadays, consumers want to know where their protein is coming from. But to deliver this information, it is a group effort between supplier, distributor, and operator.

"For us, it's about making sure we know what's coming, holding our suppliers' accountable, watching it every day, training our staff because staff training is so exceptionally important, and then what the James Beard Foundation and others are calling 'storied fish,' which is when we close the loop with the marketing and engagement we have with the consumer so that we can tell those stories on the ground," says Bushman.

Then it's up to the operator to collect as much accurate information about the fish as possible and to pass it on to the team.

"This is still a very new movement, it's been making huge strides in the last few years and it's only going to continue to get better. On my end, it's about training my staff," says Nichols above.

By operators and chefs making an effort to better educate their customers and partners, this will only continue to give life to the sustainable movement.

Watch the full episode above to learn more about how we can improve our relationship with this vital ocean resource and some of the helpful apps out there revealing seafood sourcing information for chefs and consumers.