Responsible Choice Mahi Mahi from Ecuador

Mahi mahi has become a staple on restaurant menus and in grocery stores throughout the United States. Hy-Vee is excited to share this delicious fish with our customers by offering wild-caught Responsible Choice mahi mahi in our seafood cases daily. By selecting mahi mahi from Southstream Seafoods, Hy-Vee honors our Responsible Choice seafood initiative to provide a fresh and tasty product while also showing concern for food safety and the environment.

Hy-Vee’s mahi mahi is sourced from the coast of Ecuador using responsible catch methods essential to promoting environmental welfare. A special type of hook called a circle hook is used to catch the fish. Circle hooks, because of their shape, reduce the chance of catching non-target species like seabirds, sharks and sea turtles.

Over the past five years, management of the Ecuadorean mahi mahi fishery has improved significantly, adding measures such as size limits to prevent overfishing. Mahi mahi from Ecuador was recently upgraded from a Red “Avoid” to a Yellow “Good Alternative” according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program.

Once caught, the mahi mahi is frozen within hours to ensure quality texture and flavor. Each fillet is then hand-cut for portion and quality control. From there, the product is shipped to and packaged in Everett, Massachusetts, and Hy-Vee trucks transport the product to Des Moines, Iowa. The mahi mahi is carefully reviewed by our full-time U.S. Department of Commerce inspector to ensure all quality, wholesomeness and weight requirements are met.

Each delicious serving of mahi mahi is low in calories and saturated fat, with the majority of the calories coming from protein. Six ounces of the fish offers more than 30 grams of protein. As an added benefit, it is a good source of vitamins B-12 and B-6, phosphorus, potassium, niacin and selenium. Mahi mahi is known for its lean and large flakes, mild flavor and usage in fish tacos.

Responsible Choice Copper River Wild Sockeye Salmon

If you enjoy delicious, quality wild salmon—Hy-Vee has great news to share. We have a large amount of Copper River sockeye salmon for our frozen supply this year, allowing us to offer it to you year-round. These fish originate from the world-famous Copper River, famous for the best salmon available anywhere. It’s all Responsible Choice and a testament to our commitment to responsibly source all fresh and Hy-Vee brand fish and seafood.

The Copper River or Ahtna River is a 300-mile river in south-central Alaska in the United States. It drains a large region of the Wrangell Mountains and Chugach Mountains into the Gulf of Alaska. It is known for its extensive delta ecosystem, as well as for its prolific runs of wild salmon, which are among the most highly prized stocks in the world. It is the tenth-largest river in the United States, as ranked by average discharge volume at its mouth. The longer the river, the richer the salmon!

Hailing from the swift, icy waters of Alaska’s Copper River are world-renowned king and sockeye salmon. It can be argued that Alaska’s Copper River sockeye are the finest sockeye salmon in the world. These amazing fish have an extremely high fat content, a high heart-healthy omega-3 content, and a rich flavor and deep ruby-red color. Copper River sockeye have a higher-than-average oil content due to the swift, cold waters of this mighty river.

Because this salmon is from Alaska, where sustainability of the seafood industry – the state’s largest employer – is so important it’s written into the state Constitution, our customers also have the satisfaction of knowing that the salmon comes from the best-managed fisheries in the world.

Hy-Vee: No Chilean Sea Bass from the Ross Sea

The Ross Sea in Antarctica is the least altered marine ecosystem on Earth, supporting exceptional abundances of organisms such as krill, penguins, fishes and marine mammals. It’s often referred to as the “Last Ocean” by scientists because of its remoteness and rich diversity of marine life.

This prolific ecosystem was essentially untouched by humans until 1996, when commercial fishing began for Antarctic toothfish, more commonly known as “Chilean sea bass.” The name “Chilean sea bass” is an acceptable market name for two different species: Patagonian toothfish and Antarctic toothfish. However, the only fishery for Antarctic toothfish is in the Ross Sea. Chilean sea bass are an important prey species for killer whales, sperm whales and Weddell seals.

Around 8% of the catch by weight in the Ross Sea Chilean sea bass fishery is “bycatch,” or non-target species accidentally caught during fishing operations. The bycatch often includes threatened or endangered species of grenadiers, skates and rays.

In support of the creation of a marine protected area in one of the world’s most isolated and pristine marine ecosystems, Hy-Vee pledged not to purchase Chilean sea bass from the Ross Sea. By signing the pledge, Hy-Vee supports creation of a Marine Protected Area to protect the area against commercial fishing and pollution. This initiative is broadly supported by governments, scientists, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the fishing industry.

Hy-Vee is proud to give our word that we won’t be part of that developing problem and are, in fact, part of the solution.

For customers looking for an alternative to Chilean sea bass, Hy-Vee offers an excellent sustainable substitute with Alaska sablefish.

Responsible Choice Walleye Available Seasonally at Hy-Vee

Walleye is a versatile, premium-quality, upscale delicacy and a Responsible Choice item for Hy-Vee customers. The fish has a lean, snowy white flesh, which flakes when cooked properly, and provides a sweet taste. We offer the fish in several different forms—fresh or frozen as a fillet or as a whole fish.

We source our walleye from La Nassa Foods, located in the heart of the Lake Erie fishing community in Kingsville, Ontario, Canada. La Nassa first opened nearly 30 years ago as a seafood retail store in downtown Windsor, Ontario. Today, La Nassa Foods is a leader in the processing and distribution of freshwater fish, processing the finest Lake Erie fish landed daily by its fishing fleet.

La Nassa delivers its products to True World Cold Storage, where Hy-Vee then picks up the products and brings the fish back to PDI in Ankeny, Iowa, for U.S. Department of Commerce (USDC) inspection and distribution. From the time it leaves La Nassa all the way to PDI and on to Hy-Vee stores, the walleye is temperature-controlled to provide the best possible quality.

Walleye is a seasonal item. The fish first becomes available in late May, but as the summer heat warms the lakes, the fish are driven down deeper to the cooler waters below. Walleye become available again in late September, October or even November, depending on temperatures and weather.

Responsible Choice walleye assures our customers that this choice is of the highest quality and that Hy-Vee and the companies we work with are committed to the global environment.

Belize Shrimp is Not Your Ordinary Farmed Shrimp

Responsible Choice Belize shrimp are produced from one of the most environmentally advanced eco-aquaculture systems in the world. As the name suggests, the farms are located in Belize and the physical location and the production method provide the ideal environment for shrimp farming – perfect weather, nutritious water and farmers who care for the product.

The ponds in which these shrimp are raised contain ocean seawater which is pumped directly from the Caribbean Sea. Belize Aquaculture has a “Best Aquaculture Practices” or “BAP” 3 star rating, 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 industry standards in minimizing the impact on coastal waters and wildlife.

The shrimp have a sweet and succulent taste unique to only them, a characteristic resulting from their diet. They have are no additives or preservatives, including no added water. These shrimp are just how they should be—“fresh out of the water.” In addition, the processing facility is only 10 minutes away from the farm, which is 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.

Belize shrimp cook in half the time as typical shrimp (only one to two minutes) due to the nature of their freshly harvested properties. When cooked, they turn a vibrant red color, darker than others you may have seen. Simply use your favorite recipe and enjoy some of the best-tasting shrimp in the world, easily purchased at your local Hy-Vee store. As a part of Hy-Vee’s commitment to sustainable seafood and our Responsible Choice initiative, we are excited to introduce Belize shrimp to our customers and into our seafood cases.

I have tried several different kinds of shrimp of the years. This is truly the best shrimp I have ever had. It is like eating candy, only better!

Belize Shrimp

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.