At the intersection of marine conservation and social, economic, environmental and food justice

Monday, September 16, 2013

Slow Fish on Campus!

This post comes to us from Spencer Montgomery from Slow Food USA and the University of New Hampshire. It originally ran on the Slow Food Youth Network blog.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead
Here in my twenties, I am beginning to realize our true potential for reclaiming our food sovereignty and I am so excited!
People are beginning to think differently. It’s becoming apparent that the fumbling hands of agribusiness should not be the ones sowing our seeds. Growing food is the most intimate connection we share with Earth.

From early grassroots efforts, Carlo Petrini has inspired a Slow Food movement. Principles born out of this Slow Food movement are now being embraced by academia. The EcoGastronomy program at University of New Hampshire is a working example of this. And now, Carlo’s Slow Food movement is being warmly inherited by young adults all over the world. A Slow Food Youth Network is being aroused.
As more and more young people are being turned on to the holistic capacity of good, clean, fair food, the Slow Food Youth Network continues to grow. While maintaining the core principles of Slow Food, SFYN steps past bureaucratic limitations and embraces freedom of expression. It’s a celebration, meant to inspire. The instantaneous nature of social media allows us to share ideas faster. By documenting experiences and sharing videos, suddenly we have more leverage in our fight for food sovereignty. I urge you to check out Amsterdam’s Disco Soupe video ! Empowering stuff!
Youth involvement in Slow Fish
A few months ago, I distributed surveys to 44 members of our local campus Slow Food chapter. The purpose was to gauge interests in order to better guide our efforts as a group. Surprisingly, more than 60% of the students from our group expressed a strong interest in ‘seafood sustainability’. With very little knowledge of the ‘bait to plate’ situation, I felt obligated to learn more so that I could offer inspired-learning experiences to members.
I began exploring what it meant to be a sustainable eater in the realm of seafood. As part of my exploration, I reached out to gain perspective from local fishermen, chefs, professors, and community organizations. As you may guess, I was quickly introduced to the untenable practices of industrial fishing, buoyed by lopsided policy. 
Just as crop monoculture exploits our land and soil, our discriminating taste for only a few species of fish has allowed industrial boats to ravage our seas. But thankfully, people are beginning to think differently! Community Supported Fisheries (CSFs) are popping up all over the world, potent in their ability to increase access to fresh, seasonal ‘under-loved’ species of fish. Chefs are working with locally-caught seafood – framing the unique & tasty merroir of coastal communities. Great things are happening! We are witnessing the start of a revol-ocean!
I just kicked off a two-week, Youth-led Slow Fish campaign at my university. The program will take place from September 14- October 1. The entire experience will be documented with the hope of inspiring other young adults to step up and host Slow Fish activities in their own communities. Slow Fish has already rooted itself in countries such as Italy, Brazil, Canada and Argentina. I would love to see the Slow Fish model proliferate across the USA, possibly gaining strength from preexisting Slow Food networks. 
I’m excited to announce that we hosted the first ever Youth-led Seafood Throwdown at Fishtival on Saturday, September 14. Fishtival is a community seafood festival that draws thousands of people each year, presenting a perfect opportunity for a Slow Fish launch in New England!
See images from the event here. And here are some top take-aways and next steps for Slow Fish: 
  • ‘Underloved’ species of fish include fish that your community fishermen are pulling up in their nets but struggle to find any local market value for. They are either discarded or sold to foreign buyers halfway around the world. You may be more familiar with the term ‘trash fish’, but ‘underloved’ sounds entirely more poetic. Many years ago, here in New England, lobster was once considered to be a ‘trash fish’ – a filthy bottom-feeding sea bug. But now, lobster is regarded as a delicacy, sold at top dollar in restaurants. There are so many perfectly nutritious, ‘underloved’ species of fish to discover. Be open-minded. Eating locally and seasonally should not be limited to apples and pumpkins; begin creating dialog with your local fishermen about the ‘catch of the day’!
What are the other components of a Slow Fish campaign?  

Host a Slow Fish filet & cooking workshop!
Once you’ve identified the various species of ‘underloved’ fish available to you, showcase them! Host a workshop at your school or in your community, highlighting how to filet and cook with these types of fish. Invite a local fisherman and chef from your community to share their expertise. Document the experience and share recipes. People will truly begin to embrace these ‘underloved’ species of fish once they know how to make them taste good. With a little culinary creativity, any fin is possible!
Host a Merroir Manifesto!
Terroir (pronounced tare-whar) is a term used to describe the unique set of flavor characteristics gifted to an agricultural product from the land which it is grown. Geography, climate and soil composition can all influence terroir – offering a “sense of place”. In the same respect, merroir (pronounced mare-whar) is a novel term that can be used to describe “the taste of local fishing waters”.
Host a potluck-style ‘Merroir Manifesto’ to help frame the unique & tasty merroir of your coastal community. This type of event could be a smart follow up to your ‘Slow Fish filet and cooking’ workshop. Try inviting fishermen, chefs & professors and turn it into a discussion-based potluck. A Merroir Manifesto showcasing fresh, local seafood and productive conversation is a win-win!
Host a movie showing!
Gather a bunch of friends and host a movie showing! It could be held in a friend’s dorm room or you could even rent out a theater! There are a handful of great flicks out there offering information on the topic of ‘seafood sustainability’. Check out the ones listed below. Don’t forget the popcorn!
- In the Same Boat
- Fish Belong to the People
- End of the Line
- Who Fishes Matters (YouTube channel)
- Red Gold
- A Sea Change
- The Cod Academy
- List of International Films from the Slow Fish International Website
With a little creativity, any fin is possible!

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