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JBF Impact News: November Updates

Katherine Miller

November 21, 2016

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The latest dispatch from JBF’s senior director of food policy advocacy, Katherine Miller, includes news and updates on the policy landscape post-election, as well as developments in the fight for sustainable seafood.

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Food Policy: Looking Forward

For many in the good food community, the results of the recent elections left some questions about what the new Congress and Presidential administration's priorities will be in 2017 and for the next four years. As we learn more, we’ll keep you posted by posting articles and breaking news information via @ChefAction on social media channels and in regular email updates from the James Beard Foundation.

In the meantime, we encourage you to follow coverage exclusive to food politics (including the next Farm Bill, immigration, traceability, food waste, nutrition incentives, and school lunch) at both Civil Eats and Politico.

Helping Chefs Identify Sustainable Seafood Options

According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program, 85 percent of fisheries around the world are already being fished to capacity or are in the process of decline. Species like bluefin tuna, once prolific and popular, are rapidly reaching extinction. The grouper, orange roughy, some Chilean sea bass, and various abalones have been overfished as well.

There are some rays of hope, however: the market for sustainable seafood is growing. Whether wild-caught or farmed, seafood certified as sustainably sourced by groups such as the Marine Stewardship Council, Friends of the Sea, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council, or Best Aquaculture Practices now accounts for 14 percent of worldwide seafood production.

Sustainable seafood is an issue of top concern for chefs around the country. We’ve seen chefs including Michael Cimarusti, Mary Sue Milliken, Kerry Heffernan, Barton Seaver, Renee Erickson, Keith Rhodes, and more working with nonprofit organizations and suppliers to make sure that more sustainable seafood is available in restaurants nationwide.  

To help accelerate awareness of the challenges facing chefs and restaurants in accessing more sustainable choices, Paul Allen and his team at Vulcan Inc. created a program, Smart Catch, to increase the amount of sustainable seafood served in restaurants. For the initial pilot in Seattle, nearly 100 restaurants completed menu assessments and modified their purchasing so that more than 80 percent of their seafood offerings are sourced sustainably. As of today, more than 95 percent of the pilot’s participating restaurants have completed the second round of assessments and continue to improve their menu choices. 

Here at the James Beard Foundation, we are excited about how this program will help chefs around the country adapt their menus, embrace additional sustainable seafood options, and raise awareness amongst consumers.  For more information about the program, visit smartcatch.fish. If you’re interested in participating in a national pilot of Smart Catch, please complete this short survey.

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Learn more about the JBF Impact Programs.

Katherine Miller is JBF’s senior director of food policy advocacy. Find her on Twitter.