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Sustainability and Seafood at Walden Local

We are pleased to announce that we are now offering seafood as our 5th core protein! 


All photos Katie Ring Photography


At Walden Local, we believe in creating a more local food ecosystem that promotes sustainability and keeps our communities healthy. With your support, we are making a positive environmental impact by providing high quality meat to families across the Northeast. Together, we are truly making local work! 


But why stop on land? While we have been providing fish in a limited capacity for the past few years, we're thrilled to offer seafood as a core protein option in your share starting May 22nd, 2023, joining beef, pork, chicken, and lamb. This means you can now enjoy a wider variety of proteins in every delivery.


But there’s more to it than just expanding our seafood selection. By making fish a core protein, we are stepping up our efforts to reinvigorate our aqua-cultural economy. Seafood has been a recurring addon and offered on the specials page since 2019, but with this change we are significantly expanding its availability and diversity, taking a large step to deepen our investment in the local seafood industry. Let’s dive into the details.


LOCAL FISHERIES FOR LOCAL ECONOMIES



The Northeastern United States has a deep history with fishing and the fishing industry. Small fishing operations – often passed down generation to generation – have caught cod, lobster, scallops, squid, and more from the North-Atlantic, to the Gulf of Maine, to the Mid-Atlantic Bight. Today, these fishermen provide seafood to their small fishing towns, regional supermarkets, and even high-end restaurants in the big cities. Unfortunately, as industrialized fishing has grown, it has become harder and harder for those small, family-owned businesses to survive, and these cultural traditions are fading.


By adding fish as a core protein to your Walden share, you are supporting a network of local fishing operators along the Northeast coast. We are proud of the positive impact this will have on our partner fishers, much like the share program has had with our partner farmers already. With the recurring nature of the share program, our fishing partners will be better able to plan for the future and hire long-term crew members at a living wage. The money earned by the fishing crews will then be reinvested in their hometowns, helping the local economies flourish.


THE HEALTHIER THE SEA, THE TASTIER THE PLATE


Working with a network of local fisheries brings additional benefits beyond supporting the economy – it’s also more environmentally sustainable, and far tastier. Unlike their industrial counterparts, the fishing crews that Walden works with use small day boats only and process the fish locally, leading to significantly less pollution. Some mega-fishing conglomerates catch fish, freeze them, ship them overseas, thaw them for processing, re-freeze, and then send them back to US markets, further subjecting them to freeze-thaw cycles up to four more times. This process not only requires massive amounts of fuel and energy, but also destroys the flavor of the fish. 


In contrast, all fish in the Walden share program are caught in season, then flash frozen (once) and vacuum sealed at peak freshness to maximize flavor. We record the name of the fisherman, the boat, the catch date, and the catch method on every package, showcasing our commitment to freshness and sustainability.


We believe that by providing as much information as we can, we can empower our members to choose what is best for you and your families. White there is ongoing debate among scientists about which fishing methods are healthiest for ocean habitats, we feel confident that our methods are among the best and most sustainable options. 


Our partners use day boats, meaning they return to shore every day, in contrast with industrial fishing operations, which can be out at sea for months at a time. Depending on species, our seafood may be caught using rod & reel, hand lines, trawling, or gill-nets. Our partners use the fishing methods responsibly and in accordance with federal catch-method regulations, which are the strictest in the world. It's important to note that when practiced on this smaller scale, these methods differ significantly from the practices of large-scale operations. These fishermen are stewards of their ecosystems, and will only use these catch methods when they are confident they can do so in a safe, responsible way.


A FISH FOR ALL SEASONS



Seasonality is another crucial part of Walden’s aquaculture goals. Fishing out of season can destroy fishing populations and natural food chains. At Walden, we offer a diverse range of seafood species, harvested in proportion to their natural abundances, which change seasonally based on migration patterns and mating fluctuations. Our goal is to maintain a balanced relationship with our local ecosystem and only consume what it can naturally provide. Fortunately, there are a lot of local fish species that are incredibly delicious, despite some being under-represented in grocery stores and restaurants. By expanding the market for lesser-known fish, we can preserve the more popular species from overfishing and ensure a sustainable future for fishing communities.


CHANGE WE CAN TASTE


By combining all of these efforts to support responsible fishing practices, we can contribute to the restoration of the aquaculture of the Northeast and foster flourishing local communities. We firmly believe that seafood caught in US fishing towns provides a more healthy, tasty, and environmentally friendly option for our members compared to seafood caught, processed, and shipped from overseas. By aligning our eating habits with the ocean’s dynamic ecosystem, we find balance with our natural world, which enriches our diets with healthier, tastier, and more diverse options.


Add fish to your share today to enjoy high quality local seafood in every share and support our local fishing communities! Together, we can make a positive change while also benefiting from everything our local ecosystems have to offer.