Fish story

The numbers tell the tale: Americans are eating more seafood.

The most recent stats total 16.6 pounds per capita, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service. And about 60 percent of that eating is taking place in restaurants. Although the seafood supply has held steady, the industry is struggling to keep up with demand, especially if that supply is mismanaged.

"Sustainability and safety of the supply are the top two challenges," says Henry Lovejoy, president of Eco-Fish, a seafood wholesaler. Price is the third.

"Seafood is the last hunter-gatherer food system," he adds. "Since harvesting is closely tied to the lifestyle of the fisherman, the product is more prone to price fluctuations." Right now, fuel prices have jacked up the cost of doing business and fishing fleets have to pass on those increases. With customer expectations and prices both running high, restaurateurs have to juggle several variables to make smart buying decisions.

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Ideas and Innovation
vote buttons pins

On every other Thursday of our four-week cycle menu, we allow K-8 students to pick the entree choices. The media center specialist for each of the participating schools sets up the list of entree items on a computer for voting, and the winning entrees are given to cafeteria managers two weeks before the upcoming month to put into production. Students really like this, as it promotes ownership of the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
chalkboard

We highlight our North Carolina products on a large chalkboard in our dining halls, and also list any produce we bring in from our own agroecology farm. It helps tell our story—positive and local.

Ideas and Innovation
raised garden beds

We have raised garden beds that residents can reserve and use to grow their own plants. Whenever a resident brings me fresh produce from their own garden, I try and incorporate it into a dish. If I do end up using it, I will display the resident’s name and what the produce was next to the dish on the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
chartwells teaching kids

Curriculum for the mobile teaching kitchen centers around a single kid-friendly recipe, using ingredients that can provide talking points for nutrition, sustainability and food origins. “The recipe is the lesson,” Saidel says. “Every ingredient is an opportunity to talk.”

Earlier this year, Saidel, Perkins and Harvey did a student demo featuring roasted chicken and white bean tacos with greens and citrus salsa. “We can say, ‘Why are we using chicken instead of beef? Why are there some beans in here?’ You can talk about plant proteins and the sustainability and health message around...

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