Hy-Vee Now Offers “Harmoniously Raised” Verlasso Salmon to Customers

salmon netting

Salmon, widely considered a “superfood” based on its abundant health benefits, is a popular item among customers. Hy-Vee now offers Verlasso salmon, an ocean-farmed, eco-friendly fish that is raised to promote balance between our nutritional needs and our obligation to the environment.

Raised in the Chilean ocean waters off the coast of Patagonia, Verlasso is considered a premium salmon, abundant in taste and nutrients. Salmon get omega-3s from their diets. In the wild, these omega-3s come from small oily fish like herring and anchovies. Verlasso’s sustainably farmed salmon are fed a diet in which omega-3s come from yeast, which reduces dependence on forage fish—and helps preserve their wild populations.

Verlasso Salmon

Verlasso Salmon

The company’s unique model of aquaculture, which includes fewer fish per pen, and thus a reduced impact on water quality and sediment, emphasizes balance with nature. In 2013, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program rated Verlasso salmon as a “Good Alternative,” which is the first and only time an ocean-farmed salmon has been named to this list. Because of this classification, this item qualifies as a Hy-Vee Responsible Choice item. Currently this is the only farm-raised salmon that we purchase that can receive this logo.

“Harmoniously raised” is Verlasso’s approach to sustainable salmon farming. The goal is to maintain harmony and balance with nature, which means keeping the demand for salmon in line with more environmentally conscious fish farming techniques. The intention is to reduce depletion of precious resources, protect local biodiversity and ensure the prime health of Verlasso farmed salmon.

Verlasso is a brand and trademark of AquaChile. AquaChile and DuPont formed a collaboration that combines the expertise of the companies to identify how to raise fish sustainably to provide nutritious protein for a growing population.

Supplier Spotlight: Belize Shrimp is the Perfect Combination of Responsible Choice and Delicious

As this blog can attest, we at Hy-Vee are serious about promoting healthy oceans and ensuring the long-term viability of the seafood supply—both in the United States and abroad. As a part of this commitment and our Responsible Choice initiative, we are excited to introduce Belize shrimp to our customers and into our seafood cases.

Produced by Belize Aquaculture Ltd. from one of the most environmentally advanced eco-aquaculture systems in the world, this white leg shrimp is farmed in ponds that contain water pumped daily from the Caribbean Sea—making it famously known as being “fresh out of the water.” The physical location and the production method provide the ideal environment for shrimp farming – perfect weather, rich coastlines and nutritious water.

Fisheries and farms around the globe are facing challenges in creating and implementing sustainable practices and environments. Belize and Belize Aquaculture Ltd. are ahead of the curve in properly managing their shrimp and their production environment. Belize Aquaculture is a “Best Aquaculture Practices” or “BAP” 3 star, which is one step from the highest rating. This has been achieved in part thanks to advanced education and training, and has helped to raise the industry standards in minimizing the impact on coastal waters and wildlife. Education also helps farmers to keep the shrimp robust and pure while producing less waste and contamination.

Now, let’s talk about the delicious, savory taste of these shrimp. Because these shrimp are raised on a special diet, they are uniquely sweet and succulent. They have a firm bite, giving many customers the shrimp flavor profile they desire. Due to Belize Aquaculture Ltd.’s practices, there are no additives or preservatives, no antibiotics, no hormones and no chemicals used in the production of this shrimp. In addition, the processing facility is a mere 10 minutes away from the farm—much closer than the industry standard of four to 12 hours. The combination of the production and processing standards means that you won’t find anything more natural or fresh than this shrimp.

And, it’s easy to prepare in a variety of ways. Boil it, sauté it or grill it and serve with classic cocktail sauce, or use Old Bay seasoning and butter for a little extra flavoring. Due to the freshness and quick processing time, this shrimp cooks in half the time as normal shrimp which helps on those busy summer nights when dinner needs to be made quickly. Be aware of the vibrant and dark red coloring the shrimp will possess when ready; it’s imperative to not overcook them. Our seafood counter experts or in-store chefs will be able to provide you with cooking suggestions and a recipe if you’d like, but no matter how you prepare them you can be confident that you are dining on one of the world’s best-tasting shrimp.

You’ve Been Waiting for It: Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice Wild Alaskan Salmon at a Price that will Make you Smile

Authored by John Rohrs & Dennis Frauenholz

Hy-Vee customers have been starving for wild Alaskan salmon all winter and spring, and now it’s available at a price point that appeals to a budget. Hy-Vee is featuring sockeye salmon for a very competitive price at $12.99 a pound through July 12, 2014, and our customers are buying it up as quickly as it comes in the stores.

Everything is hitting at the right time. We’re in the height of the grilling season, and this fish grills up perfectly. It also works well in the smoker, and retains its moisture.

Sockeye salmon is a great tasting fish that’s prized for its deep, red flesh – an indicator that it’s high in protein and beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids. That distinctive, rich flavor starts with pristine waters of Alaska, where there aren’t a lot of industrial and commercial influences creating pollution problems.

High winds and rough weather can affect the season, but it’s going well this year, with a steady supply of fish coming in weekly. It’s fresher than some of the farm-raised fish we get and right now it’s priced competitively, which is causing some of the farm-raised varieties to decline in price to below $11, from $13 or $14 a pound, where they were before the wild salmons season began.

The hot $12.99 price we’re selling sockeye at now will expire in a couple of weeks, but we’ll still have sockeye coming in through the end of July. It will rise some, but not to unaffordable levels.

If budgets allow, Hy-Vee has limited availability of king salmon, which is the best out there. King salmon grow larger than other species of salmon, so the steaks are thicker and are great for the grill, and they’re very high in the essential fatty acids. But the supply is limited so the price is higher, around $25 a pound.

On the lower end of the spectrum, we’ll start getting Keta salmon in the stores in mid-July. It’s not as high in the Omega-3s, but it’s still a good fish, especially if you want to dress it some with sauces and herbs, like dill.

Once the Sockeye salmon season ends, we’ll start getting more Coho. They’re smaller fish, but still very nutritious and tasty. Then look for another two-to-three-week run of Sockeye salmon in August.

Hy-Vee’s Meteoric Rise to No. 5 on Greenpeace Sustainability Survey: ‘This is the New Beginning; This is our Social Responsibility’

At Hy-Vee, we’ve just received some important validation in our efforts to become the industry leader in offering customers seafood only from responsibly managed fisheries:

In the Carting Away the Oceans: 2014 Rankings of Seafood Sustainability in U.S. Supermarkets report issued by Greenpeace USA, Hy-Vee ranked fifth among the country’s top 26 retailers for sustainability efforts.

We were ranked in four key areas: policy, initiatives, labeling and transparency, and Red List inventory.

That’s a huge accomplishment that got the attention of James Mitchell, Greenpeace’s senior seafood campaigner: “We were surprised at how well Hy-Vee performed, by essentially rocketing to fifth place, which is a particularly impressive showing for a new entrant to the evaluations,” he said.

FishWise, Hy-Vee’s nonprofit partner in sustainability has been critical in helping us achieve a high score on Greenpeace’s survey. FishWise has very high standards and has been awesome to work with. Working with FishWise has encouraged us to look at issues scientifically and to be mindful of the environmental and social impacts of our practices. Sometimes NGOs can get a bad rap as anti-business, but this isn’t the case with FishWise.

They’ve helped us learn.

Hy-Vee’s CEO, Randy Edeker, also has been a driver in our success. He has basically circled the wagons, challenged us to ask critical questions about every aspect of our operations, and empowered us to make changes to become more sustainable. As a result, our procurement, distribution and operations divisions locked arms and said, in effect:

“This is the new beginning; this is our social responsibility.”

We’re extremely pleased and honored with this recognition. It represents both a commitment from our stores and Hy-Vee customers, who have sent a clear message they want seafood that is responsibly harvested and minimizes damage to the environment. Through our new efforts, we are providing our customers high quality seafood in accordance with the most stringent environmental standards in the food industry.

We wanted to score high on the Greenpeace survey, and hoped that we would. No. 5 is a great position for our first entry in the seafood survey, but we’re not satisfied. We want to be No. 1, whether that’s on the Greenpeace survey or any other measure of sustainability.

Read the full report: Carting Away the Oceans: 2014 Rankings of Seafood Sustainability in U.S. Supermarkets

Responsible Choice Seafood: What’s the Difference?

Allow me to preface this post by stating that all of Hy-Vee’s seafood – labeled with a Responsible Choice logo or not – is safe to eat and of the highest quality.

Think back to the last time you were standing in front of the seafood counter in your local Hy-Vee store. You may have noticed that, while many of Hy-Vee’s seafood products have the new ‘Responsible Choice’ label, there are some that do not. What is the difference between products with a Responsible Choice label and those without a label?

The Responsible Choice label identifies seafood products that come from well-managed sources that minimize the environmental impacts of harvesting or farming. Specifically, these products are rated either Green (Best Choice) or Yellow (Good Alternative) by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, or are certified to an equivalent environmental standard (for example, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification).

Products that do not have a Responsible Choice label are either Unrated or Red rated by the Seafood Watch Program or are not yet certified to an environmental standard equivalent to Green or Yellow ratings. Some seafood is not yet produced at an environmental standard that meets Hy-Vee’s conditions for a label. Hy-Vee is actively working to improve these seafood items by engaging with fisheries and farms to enhance their environmental performance, or switching products to more sustainable alternatives if improvements cannot be made. As Hy-Vee progresses towards the 2015 goal, you will see more and more products with the Responsible Choice label.

Hy-Vee’s staff is going through extensive training as a part of the new seafood program, so you can feel comfortable asking any questions about the source, quality, and type of seafood at your local Hy-Vee store. Support the health of your family and healthy oceans by purchasing items with the Responsible Choice label.

Recipe Spotlight: Alaska King Crab Legs with Dipping Sauces

I enjoy being part of a company that features fish and shellfish caught in a sustainable way, so it can be enjoyed by people for generations to come.

That’s the case with our Alaska king crab legs, which can be prepared with a variety of dipping sauces. Crab legs are a good choice for entertaining, but also for everyday eating.

Don’t be intimidated. They’re very easy to prepare. All you need is a nice, big stock pot and some kitchen shears. Just bring 2 to 3 inches of water to a rapid simmer, throw the crab legs in and cover. It’s OK if some of the legs are sticking out of the pot.

When they’re done, tear the crab legs at the joint. Flip them to the smoother side and snip them open with the kitchen shears. Break the crab legs into pieces and open them to retrieve the meat.


Alaska King Crab Legs with Dipping SaucesAlaska King Crab Legs with Dipping Sauces

All you need:

3 to 4 pounds of Alaska king crab legs (snow or Dungeness also work), thawed or frozen

All you do:

1. To prepare the crab, fill a 16- to 20-ounce stock pot with water. Bring to a boil and add crab legs. Reduce the heat; cover and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes for frozen crab or 3 to 4 minutes for thawed crab, until heated through. Drain and serve with the dipping sauces, see recipes below.

Rouille Sauce

All you need:

  • 1/3 cup bottled roasted red peppers
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2/3 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

All you do:

1. Combine the peppers and garlic in a food processor and process until well minced. Pulse in the remaining ingredients until well combined.

Basil-Mint Pesto Sauce

All you need:

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp toasted walnuts
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

All you do:

1. Combine basil, mint, oil, walnuts, garlic and lemon juice in a food processor; puree until smooth. Add Parmesan and pulse until well combined. For a creamier sauce, combine 1/4 cup of the Basil-Mint Pesto sauce with 1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise.

Mediterranean Dip

All you need:

  • 1 (6.5 oz) jar artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 1 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup chopped drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 (4 oz) can sliced olives, drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives OR 2 tbsp. sliced green onions

All you do:

1. Blend the artichoke hearts, Parmesan cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and chives in a bowl. Place in ovenproof baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly, if desired.

Butter Sauce

All you need:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted melted butter
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill weed
  • dash white pepper

All you do:

1. Blend ingredients together in a bowl.

The dips may be prepared up to two days in advance. Reheat the butter sauce as needed.