Seafoodies

 

 

“I’m On a Seafood Diet. I See Food, and I Eat It”

by Megan Callahan | Health | Leave a comment

Deciding to lose weight over the holidays sometimes seems like a losing game, so it’s important when entertaining guests to offer options to help keep your family and friends’ health goals afloat. Whether it’s you or your guests choosing a healthy lifestyle, you can offer options supporting healthy food choices, even through the holidays. Every decision – from creating a menu to choosing a location for socializing – can have an impact on the success of you and your loved ones. Here are some helpful dietitian hints to assist you through the holiday season without adding inches to your guests’ waistline:

  1. It seems like everyone has the munchies during the holidays. To lighten up your appetizer menu, try offering raw veggies and Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice shrimp cocktail instead of hot (often fried or cream cheese-filled) hors d’oeuvres. Veggie platters are always a big hit. To keep them low-fat, make a dip with fat-free sour cream or plain Greek yogurt instead of using mayonnaise and cream cheese. Include a bean dip with a whole-wheat cracker and fruit kabobs to incorporate some fiber-rich foods.
  2. Incorporating a salad to start your meal is a great way to let your guests fill up on some nutrient-dense foods that will help them with portion control later in the meal. Serve a large green leafy lettuce salad topped with fresh cranberries, orange wedges and raw walnuts to add some flair to your old-school boring salad. Serve your dressing options on the side so your guests can decide how much they would like to have.
  3. ‘Tis the season for seafood when it comes to your main course! The USDA’s MyPlate nutrition guidelines educate consumers to incorporate seafood as a protein a few times a week. Anything from Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice options – salmon, lobster and our famous Alaskan crab legs – can be a great way to impress your guests with a healthy alternative and a twist on the traditional holiday dinner.
  4. Cut your dessert options into half-size or even bite-size portions. This allows your company to feel like they can indulge in a dessert option but not in a large piece. Offer healthier dessert options like baked apples or poached pears. Both are a delicious choice without all the added sugar.
  5. Instead of having only high-calorie beverage options such as wine, eggnog, sodas and juices, include options such as sugar-free hot apple cider, hot herbal tea and fruit-infused waters. These contain fewer calories and sugar and are still refreshing.
  6. Allow your guests to serve themselves. This puts them in control of their portions and allows them to make decisions about what and how much they will eat.
  7. Don’t force your guests to socialize around the food the whole time. Instead offer small appetizer plates near the food and bring the fun to another room in your home. Put some distance between the food and your company to help decrease the temptation to overeat.

It’s human nature that the more choices we offer, the more our company will eat, so instead of overdoing it at your holiday party, plan your menu accordingly. By simply making a few substitutions and lightening up your favorite dishes, you can allow your loved ones to indulge in all of their favorite scrumptious goodies without sabotaging their waist line.

Heading To The Source Part Two: Island Fit For Kings

by John Rohrs | Our Seafood | Leave a comment

Jason and John

Last month I had the opportunity again to visit the mecca of sustainable seafood, this time on Akutan Island, Alaska, during the peak of the king crab season. This time I was accompanied by Jason Pride, Assistant Vice President of Meat/Seafood Operations at Hy-Vee.

Akutan Island is located in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands chain, approximately 750 miles southwest of Anchorage. This is one the most remote places in the world. On the map, it looks like a desolate island that lies in the middle of the Bering Sea and Pacific Ocean. However, this island houses one of the largest seafood processing facilities in North America, which is owned and operated by Hy-Vee’s seafood partner Trident Seafood. With more than 1,400 company-housed employees on site during peak seasons, this year-round, multi-species frozen seafood operation is capable of processing more than 3 million pounds of raw seafood each day. Wild Alaska pollock – which is the Bering Sea’s most abundant sustainable whitefish – is the main focus of this facility. This day the focus was not pollock, but instead Responsible Choice Alaska king crab.

How remote is this facility? There are only two ways in: by boat or by helicopter. First you must find a break in the weather to get a plane into the neighboring island of Akun. Other than the airport, the only thing on the island is a small herd of wild cattle that were originally brought in as a food source for locals. Once you arrive at the airport, you must then get on a boat and brave the open water or take a helicopter to Akutan Island. Your stay on Akutan may change at any time depending on Mother Nature, meaning you could be stuck there for a while.

The weather was in our favor, but only for six hours. After that point, we had to get off the island and in the air, otherwise we could have been temporarily stranded there. We did our best with the time we had to tour the massive seafood processing facility in full production of processing king crab from start to finish. It was truly a sight to see! Jason and I had the privilege to handle some of these deep cold water creatures as they were being offloaded into the facility.

Jason John and Sig

Part of the tour took place on Sig Hansen’s famous Northwestern crab boat, which was offloading its final catch of the year. I will never forget chatting and hearing stories from Sig and his crew. The crew was tired but in great spirits as their king crab season was coming to an end after only two weeks. The word on the docks from the fishermen was that king crab was bountiful and crab were everywhere. This was great news after preliminary management test catches came back poor, which resulted in large quota cuts on all Alaska crab.

Our tour of Akutan Island came to end as we received word that we needed to leave in order to beat the weather and move on to the next leg of our trip to Kodiak, Alaska. Here lies another community built on sustainable fishing. The shorelines were lined with seafood processing facilities. None stood out more than that of Trident’s trio of facilities: Star of Kodiak, Pillar Mountain and its newest expansion, the Near Island facility. This facility houses a new fully-automated production line for pollock and salmon. The facility features renewable energy produced by a combination of hydroelectric and wind generators. It was amazing to see the full-automation process in operation processing pollock. The only human interaction and handling was at the time of checking weights on cases before they head into the blast freezers to be frozen. This automation takes food safety to the next level.

Crab

Our journey gave new meaning to the phrase “Heading to the Source.” Seafood is truly a global industry that one cannot fully understand by reading an article or by surfing the Internet. To fully understand it, you must be there as the product is being offloaded, processed and packed. But most importantly, seeing the communities, families and fisherman firsthand and witnessing their passion gave us the will to support and sustain these fisheries!

Crew

It’s COOL To Be A Fishmonger

by Dennis Frauenholz | Our Efforts | Leave a comment

In 2005, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) began requiring supermarkets to add Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) to their packaging and signage for fish and shellfish. The intent of the law was to educate consumers on where their fish came from and whether or not it was wild or farmed. When you go to your fishmonger to buy cod, for example, the sign says “wild-caught, product of U.S.A.” The USDA felt that consumers wanted to know and had a right to know where their fish comes from. The law has since been expanded to certain meats and produce.

So what does this really mean for you when you stop into your Hy-Vee seafood department to get tonight’s dinner? As a consumer of seafood, you face a barrage of information regarding what fish to buy and what fish you shouldn’t buy. You may read a report about how a certain country has poor farming conditions or one that uses slave labor to catch seafood. You may tell yourself to avoid those countries and look for the country of origin on the label. But here is the catch: The law requires the supplier to list the country that the fish was last processed in, not the country where the fish was actually caught or farmed.

Why is this important? For example, most wild salmon is caught in Alaska, but some processors send it to China to be processed because it is cheaper to do that. Therefore they are required to put China as the country of origin even though it was caught in the U.S.A.! So the COOL can be misleading if you are looking for information on where that fish really came from. Companies are now providing more information on the label than ever before to try to clear up the confusion. You may see a label that says “salmon caught in Alaska and processed in China.” Keep in mind that Hy-Vee sells only the best seafood that is raised or caught in a responsible manner. This is the core of our Responsible Choice program and why you can shop for fish worry-free at Hy-Vee.

There are several other facets to the COOL program that are worth mentioning. If seafood is altered in any way by cooking or adding seasoning, then there is no COOL requirement for that product. That’s why you will not see any COOL on battered or encrusted seafood. The other part of the COOL law is the method of production. What if you only want farm-raised or wild fish? The label will tell you how it was caught. The label may also tell you how it was farm raised or caught. For example, was it farm-raised in a closed system or in a net pen in the ocean? Was it caught by longline or in a pot? Those specifics are not required by law, but your fishmonger should have that information if you ask, and you will always find it on my signs in my shop.

When you come into your Hy-Vee fishmonger and read the product signage, you will have a better understanding of the information provided. Keep in mind it is always best to ask the fishmonger about specific concerns you may have. We are always the best source of information on where and how your fish was harvested.

Spicy Quinoa Crab Cakes

by Stacey Wertzberger | Recipes | Leave a comment

Thanksgiving is all about tradition, but sometimes it’s fun to mix it up with a little spice. Adding seafood will surprise your guest with a show-stopping starter. Spicy Quinoa Crab Cakes are delicious and wake up the palette.

All you need:

Seasoning:

  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp sugar

Crab Cakes:

  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ cup uncooked quinoa
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp Egg Beaters
  • 8 oz Responsible Choice crab meat
  • ½ cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup finely diced red pepper
  • ¼ cup finely diced celery
  • ¼ cup diced green onions

All you do:

  1. Line a plate with waxed paper; set aside.
  2. Combine salt, black pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper and sugar; set aside.
  3. Combine water and quinoa in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes. Drain to remove excess water. Cool.
  4. Combine yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard and Egg Beaters. Stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons of seasoning mix.
  5. Place crab, quinoa, breadcrumbs, garlic, red pepper, celery and green onion in bowl. Add yogurt mixture and stir gently. Form into 2-ounce patties and place on prepared plate. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
  6. Heat broiler to HIGH. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick canola oil cooking spray.
  7. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 teaspoon seasoning on the tops of the crab cakes. Spray the tops of the crab cakes with nonstick canola oil cooking spray.
  8. Bake for 3 to 5 minutes or until browned. Flip crab cakes over and cook another 3 to 5 minutes until browned and internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

The Perfect Oyster

by John Rohrs | Our Seafood | Leave a comment

Oysters have been a favorite delicacy for centuries. Today, oysters often are enjoyed in restaurants, but they also are available at your local Hy-Vee grocery store. The demand for these tasty mollusks has never been stronger. Because of increased demand, cultured or farmed oysters help support and take some of the pressure off of wild stocks.

Seafood lovers often look for a clean-tasting oyster, especially when eating them raw. This is what you’ll find in our Responsible Choice Gold Band Oysters from Motivatit Seafoods. The Motivatit company was founded in Houma, Louisiana, by Ernest Voisin in 1971. Today, the Voisin family continues to operate the business. The company has 16,000 acres of natural water bottom, spread throughout the Louisiana coastline. Its fleet consists of 20 to 30 boats ranging in size from 20 feet to 80 feet.

Gold Band Oysters are harvested, processed and shipped fresh and quicker than those of any other company in the industry. The award-winning pre-shucked Gold Band Oysters are made possible by their patented, USDA-approved High Pressure Processing technology. The process reduces harmful bacteria to non-detectable levels and uses no heat, therefore the process has little effect on the taste or texture of the oyster. Prior to the process, gold plastic bands are heat-shrunk around each oyster to assure that the oyster’s liquid remains within its shell. This process undergoes quarterly tests through private laboratories to assure the validity of its results.

Gold Band Oysters make it easy for any consumer to open and enjoy. There is no need to become an expert in shucking; simply cut the bands and grab a butter knife to pop open and enjoy. When looking for that perfect oyster this holiday season, stop in your local Hy-Vee seafood market and look for the oysters wrapped in gold!

http://www.theperfectoyster.com/

Cornbread Andouille and Oyster Stuffing

by Reynolds Aultman | Recipes | Leave a comment

I grew up in New Orleans where the winter is the perfect time to enjoy oysters, and Thanksgiving is the perfect time for oyster stuffing to go along with the turkey. This recipe is my favorite – and the best I have ever eaten.

All you need:

  • 6 to 8 cups diced cornbread (one 8-inch-square pan)
  • 1 pound andouille sausage, cut into quarters lengthwise then into slices 1/2 inch or smaller
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups chopped onion (roughly 2 medium)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped celery (4 ribs)
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 bunches green onions, chopped, divided
  • 1 1/4 pounds Responsible Choice oysters
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken stock, divided
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

All you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13-by-9-inch baking dish; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, crumble the cornbread.
  3. In a large skillet, brown sausage. Add to bowl with cornbread.
  4. Using the same skillet, melt butter over medium to medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, bell peppers and half of the green onions cook until wilted, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in oysters, garlic, thyme and sage; cook for 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl with cornbread.
  5. Bring chicken stock to a boil. Carefully pour about 3 cups over the cornbread mixture. Stir well until cornbread is moistened; the consistency should be moist not soggy. Add additional broth if the stuffing is dry.
  6. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the parsley and rest of the green onions. Transfer to prepared dish; pat down to form an even layer. Cover with foil.
  7. Bake 15 minutes, remove foil and bake another 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Heading To The Source

by John Rohrs | Our Seafood | Leave a comment

To see how a product truly comes together from boat to dinner plate, one must see the process firsthand by being present when the fish comes in.

Last month, I made the journey north to one of the most famous fisheries in the world: the Copper River in Cordova, Alaska. Its population is under 2,000 people and is only accessible by plane or boat. Cordova is the mecca of sustainable wild salmon.

img_2596The shorelines of the community were not filled with million-dollar homes or 5-star resorts, but instead multimillion-dollar fish processing facilities, one of which processes and packs Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice fresh salmon. I was lucky to witness a fresh run of wild Alaska coho salmon being processed, much of which later made the journey to our distribution center in Ankeny, Iowa, and then out to Hy-Vee customers in our eight states.

Watching the process from start to finish – and realizing the amount of time and effort that goes into handling product – is truly a sight to see. I’m a seafood buyer, and seeing the pride that these workers take in what they do gives me a great feeling about doing business with them.

Part of my days were spent at the docks with fisherman, listening to some of their wild stories as they maintained their nets and boats. Even after just a short amount of time on the docks, you can sense the camaraderie that the fishermen share. All are competitors when it comes to catching fish, but are friends who would help out each other in a time of need. One fisherman was familiar with Hy-Vee; he is a Minnesota native who lives in Cordova six months out of the year just to fish salmon.

img_2601The life of an Alaska salmon fisherman is not something anyone can just walk in and do. There are only about 540 commercial fishing permits available. Many of these permits have been passed on to younger generations from their grandparents and parents. It is not unusual to see a fisherman’s young son or daughter take over the reins of the family’s quota and boat. Permits do occasionally go up for sale, and can cost $200,000 or more. That is a huge investment for a business where the returns are unknown, as so many variables stand in the way – including weather to reduced quotas. Salmon fishing isn’t an easy job. Most of the vessels are operated by a single person. The operator’s job experience and good fortune undoubtedly affect the amount of money he brings home.

My evenings were spent around a dinner table at the homes of several local fishermen, which is an experience I will not soon forget. I was able to get a peek inside their lives and their reasons for doing what they do. Listening to their stories gave me a whole new perspective on what life is like outside of the Midwest. Wild salmon fisherman have a strong work ethic and spend endless hours managing, harvesting and maintaining their “harvest” – in this case wild salmon. It’s really somewhat similar to that of a cattle or agriculture farmer here in the Midwest. The only difference is that they are out pursuing “the last of the hunted proteins,” and if the fish aren’t there or the weather is too bad to fish then they come home empty-handed. The unknown never stops them from going back out, as they know that one good trip could result in a bountiful payoff.

It’s hard to fully grasp all that goes into a wild fishery. My goal for this trip was to obtain a better understanding about what makes this fishery one of the finest. The amount of knowledge and understanding that one gains in a trip like this is truly priceless.

Introducing Fair Trade Certified™ Tuna: Q&A with Fair Trade USA

by Hy-Vee | Our Seafood | Leave a comment

By Ashley Apel

Hy-Vee is transitioning 100% of its private-label fresh and frozen tuna to Fair Trade Certified™. To help celebrate this monumental commitment, we asked Ashley Apel, Seafood Program Senior Manager at Fair Trade USA, to share her thoughts on the importance of responsibly sourced seafood.

Fair Trade Certified Tuna

  1. What is Fair Trade?

    Fair Trade is all about taking care of people and our planet. When you purchase products with the Fair Trade Certified™ logo, you’re not only getting a high-quality product, you’re supporting a system in which farmers, workers and fishermen are fairly compensated, fragile ecosystems are protected, and communities are empowered to build sustainable businesses. It’s a win-win.

    There are two important mechanisms that bring Fair Trade to life. The first is the Fair Trade Standard. To earn certification, each fishery must meet a set of rigorous, independently audited criteria that work to protect fundamental human rights of fishermen, enable transparent supply chains and protect the environment. The second important thing to remember is the Community Development Premium. For every pound of tuna sold, fishermen earn an additional amount of money that is earmarked for critical community projects, as identified by the fishermen themselves. This allows fishing communities to invest in the causes that matter the most to them, like education and health care.

  2. What products does Fair Trade USA certify?

    Fair Trade USA certifies more than 30 different categories, from tea, coconut and spices to grain, sugar, produce and even apparel and home goods. You can now find Fair Trade Certified™ products in nearly every aisle of the grocery store.

  3. Why does Fair Trade matter so much in seafood?

    Recent investigations have exposed a number of environmental and social abuses in the seafood industry. Roughly 30% of the world’s fisheries are overfished, according to FAO. If unchecked, many varieties of seafood we’ve come to know and love may go extinct. Human trafficking and forced labor are also major issues in parts of the industry. An increasing number of reports show that individuals, particularly in Southeast Asia, are lured onto fishing vessels with promises of steady jobs and higher pay, only to find themselves working around the clock in dangerous conditions, often without pay. Some have even lost their lives.

    fttuna1Fair Trade USA’s seafood program is really the first of its kind to address both social and environmental challenges in the seafood sector. Standards for marine resources ensure that fisheries are managed legally and responsibly, preventing further overfishing. At the same time, social and human rights standards prohibit forced labor and empower fishermen with better working conditions, improved terms of trade, and add additional income to invest in their businesses and communities.

    Fair Trade Community Development Premiums can also help foster collaboration among previously isolated groups of fisherman. Premiums encourage fishermen to work together to identify and execute projects like health clinics or schoolhouses. This cultivates a sense of community that in turn makes fishermen less vulnerable to exploitation by outside parties.

    The tuna Hy-Vee buys comes from small villages in Indonesia. Fishermen and community members have used Fair Trade Premiums for safety improvements at fishing docks, education scholarships, uniforms, and school supplies for local children, planting trees, turtle conservation projects, renovations to village mosques, community waste systems and funds to support grieving or ill families.

  4. What does Fair Trade aim to do in fishing communities?

    The goal of the Fair Trade seafood program is to build more resilient livelihoods in fishing communities. It’s about improved working conditions and wages for fishermen, so they can better care for themselves and their families. It’s also about helping fishermen gain greater access to capital in the form of Community Development Premiums, as investments made with this extra income can improve community welfare.

    Finally, Fair Trade focuses on environmental stewardship in fishing communities. Our NGO partners and field staff on the ground work with fishermen to improve their fishing practices and preserve marine ecosystems, ensuring that fishing remains a viable profession for generations to come.

  5. What do you want shoppers to know when they see tuna with the Fair Trade Certified™ label?

    Every dollar we spend is a vote for the kind of world we want to live in. When you purchase Fair Trade Certified™ tuna, you’re voting for sustainable livelihoods, thriving fishing communities, and healthy marine populations. You’re voting for safe working conditions, equal rights for women, and prohibitions of both slavery and child labor. Most people want to make a positive difference in the world, and with Fair Trade it’s easy. Fair Trade Certified™ tuna empowers shoppers to turn the tides for fishermen, one purchase at a time.

Alaska Cod: Wild, Natural & Sustainable

by Jason Pride | Our Seafood | Leave a comment

In the month of October, Hy-Vee is celebrating CodFest with customers. One of the most popular North Pacific ground fish, Alaska Cod is the highest-quality cod available. Harvested throughout the Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands, Alaska Cod is available fresh in the fall and winter, and frozen year-round.

Alaska has pioneered the standard for sustainable, eco-friendly fisheries. Alaska’s cod fisheries are Green rated by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program, indicating that Alaska cod is a “Best Choice” for consumers to purchase because it’s from fisheries that are well managed and caught using methods that cause little harm to habitats and other wildlife. By proactively ensuring a healthy, wild and sustainable harvest, Alaska is protecting its superior seafood for future generations.

With a slightly sweet flavor and a moist, firm texture, Alaska Cod adapts easily to most cooking methods. It can be roasted, poached, steamed, sautéed or deep-fried for fish and chips. Alaska Cod is also perfectly complemented by a wide array of sauces, herbs, spices and coatings. It’s available in fillets and in portions. Alaska Cod can star on its own in the center of the plate, but it’s also excellent as an ingredient in salads, appetizers and chowders.

Visit your Hy-Vee seafood counter today and ask about wild Alaska Cod.

October: Fair Trade Month + National Seafood Month

by Jason Pride | Our Efforts | Leave a comment

At Hy-Vee, we take seafood and sustainability seriously. For nearly a year, 100 percent of Hy-Vee’s fresh and private label frozen seafood has met our goal of being responsibly sourced.

But October is an especially important month to focus on seafood, especially Fair Trade seafood.

Being an industry leader in sustainable seafood means extending our work beyond our direct procurement and engaging with other major retailers, environmental and social NGOs and industry to address the issue of traceability and illegal fishing in global seafood supply chains.

Hy-Vee is working toward offering 100 percent Fair Trade tuna by partnering with Anova to supply our fresh seafood cases, sushi shops and Market Grille restaurants.

Fair Trade Certified products are acquired with respect for people and our planet. When customers purchase a product with the Fair Trade Certified label, they can be sure that the fishermen and workers who produced it received a fair deal for their hard work. This means better prices and wages, safer working conditions, environmental protection, and additional funds to invest in community projects like education, health care and clean water.

Fair Trade USA informed us that Hy-Vee is the only retailer that is pursuing an effort of this scale.

Why do we work to offer only the best?

“We feel we have an obligation to be a leader in seafood. Our customers are socially aware and we have to earn their trust every day,” said Nate Stewart, former vice president of perishables and current senior vice president of Hy-Vee’s northern region. “We owe it to our customers to uphold our standards and provide them with what they deserve, which is safe and sustainable seafood.”

Hy-Vee’s intention is to provide the best sources and procedures in procurement and handling. Fair Trade is one more step in that direction.

“We hope to be an example and continue to be socially responsible, quality focused and transparent when it comes to buying and selling seafood,” Stewart said. “Our customers put their trust in us and we have to earn it by delivering the best product we can find, source it responsibly, and sell it at a fair price.”

In the future, Hy-Vee will continue to work with our suppliers to ensure our standards are being upheld in all levels of seafood procurement. Hy-Vee wants to promote safe and good working conditions, environmental responsibility and true partnerships with all of our suppliers.

“This is a never-ending task, so we take each piece of our business and try to make it the best it can be.”

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