3 Ways Chefs are Advocating for Sustainable Seafood

And why these strong voices from the culinary community matter

Chefs know food—better stated, chefs know good food. And now, more and more chefs are helping lead the charge for sustainable food.

Restaurants support millions of jobs and billions of dollars in economic impact in communities across America. They are integral to connecting consumers with diverse and delicious food options—including seafood. As demand for environmentally conscious food grows across the nation, chefs from coast to coast are emerging as new and powerful advocates for sustainably caught and harvested seafood in the United States. So what are chefs up to? Check out just three examples below.

1. Minnesota chefs demonstrate you don’t have to live near the ocean to be an ocean champion

In honor of National Seafood Month last October, more than 140 restaurants and chefs from Minneapolis, St. Paul and the surrounding area featured sustainable seafood options on their menus to demonstrate that prioritizing sustainably harvested seafood doesn’t have to be so daunting. Led by star chef Tim McKee and with guidance and support from both Ocean Conservancy and the James Beard Foundation (JBF), these chefs sent a strong message that the culinary community (even those who live hundreds of miles from the nearest ocean) is well positioned to have a big impact on where our seafood comes from. Check out the video below to hear more from Minnesota chefs who participated.

2. Chefs across the country are calling on Congress to support strong federal fishery policy.

In Portland, Oregon, a collection of culinary professionals came together last November to enshrine their support for sustainably managed fisheries that support culinary businesses as well as the health of our oceans—and thus, the Portland Pact for Sustainable Seafood was born. The Pact highlights a commitment to strive for environmentally sustainable food and to incorporate this principle into sourcing practices whenever possible. It also voices the chefs’ support for the core conservation principles of the Magnuson Stevens Act, the primary law governing fishing in United States waters. Since the Pact’s inception, more than 170 chefs representing 37 states have added their names and the list continues to grow. You can read more about the pact and its signatories here.

3. The James Beard Foundation is helping train the next class of chef advocates with Smart Catch.

Founded by the “Dean of American cookery”, the James Beard Foundation has been at the center of United States culinary culture for more than 30 years. The organization’s mission is “to celebrate, nurture, and honor chefs and other leaders making America’s food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone”. Through its Impact programs and Chefs Boot Camps for Policy and Change, JBF is helping chefs become not just community staples, but community leaders for change. One such program is Smart Catch, an educational program created by chefs for chefs to spread knowledge and inform decisions about where restaurants get their seafood. Through Smart Catch, chefs are giving themselves a seat at the proverbial table and using their influence to expand the sustainable food movement beyond our shorelines to ensure delicious seafood is available to enjoy for generations to come.

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