Aquaculture in Central Iowa

Barramundi FarmVeroBlue Farms is working to become North America’s largest land-based, indoor aquaculture company. Through its Iowa’s First Hub located in Webster City, Iowa, VeroBlue Farms is expanding its production of the barramundi fish species through a new urban farm with approximately 7.2 million pounds of production per year.

Barramundi is a freshwater fish species found in tropical and semi-tropical regions ranging from the Persian Gulf to China. It can be found as far south as Australia, and as far north as India. Barramundi scored extremely high on the NuVal scoring system (mid-80s or higher), and was rated as a Green “Best Choice” for sustainability by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program.

Barramundi is known for its firm, white and succulent flesh. It has a moist, fine-grained texture and mild flavor. This nutritious fish is low in fat and high in protein. One barramundi fillet provides the same omega-3 content as approximately 17 steaks, making this fish one of the best sources to improve heart health.Barramundi Fish

Iowa’s First Hub is a family-run operation working to provide a fresh, sustainable product from America’s heartland. Using a recirculating system from VeroBlue Farms, referred to as opposing flows technology, the system utilizes air to circulate the water in the culture tank. The system is designed to create two opposing flows of water that create compressed air being introduced on each side of the tank. Check out this YouTube video for a virtual walk-through of the farm. For anyone interested in sustainable aquaculture and seafood, it gives a great perspective of the operation.

At Hy-Vee, we are proud to support one of Iowa’s aquaculture leaders providing farm-to-table seafood. It is exciting that the operation is located in one of our very own Hy-Vee communities, right in the heart of our home state. The fish are grown in an environmentally friendly and sustainable setting which allows us to consistently offer our customers a high-quality and fresh product year-round.

Alaska Crab Experts Bring Excitement to Des Moines-Area and Kansas City-Area Stores

Kansas City- and Des Moines-area customers had a chance to receive meal tips and learn about Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice seafood from the professionals December 17-19, 2014. Four Alaska crab industry experts — including Jim Stone, who appeared on the Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch” show — toured local Hy-Vee stores and shared stories with customers.


Alaska Crab Experts

Hy-Vee hosted Alaska crab experts Jim Stone, Jake Jacobsen, Mark Gleason and Mark R. Jones. During the events, customers heard the fishermen’s stories and how they advocate for the responsible sourcing of seafood.

“I wanted to come to Hy-Vee because I’ve been watching what Hy-Vee has been doing. We’ve been really impressed with how much crab you’ve been selling and with your efforts toward sustainable seafood. And in Alaska, that’s what we’re all about,” Stone said. “The employees of Hy-Vee seem to care so much about the sustainability and about their jobs here, period. The quality of the crab displays is unbelievable.”

Hy-Vee’s chefs and seafood teams also shared techniques for seafood preparation and created enthusiasm in the stores.

“I was excited just to have them in our area and pick their brains because they’re full of knowledge,” said Tim Jones, seafood manager at Waukee Hy-Vee. “Their product is fantastic. Our regular customers made it a point to come over and talk to these gentlemen. It was a great thing for all of us.”

At Olathe (Kansas) Hy-Vee No. 1, an employee in a crab suit greeted customers, creating excitement as they arrived at the store. A large frozen case was transformed into “Hy-Vee Harbor Dockside” and featured selections of crab product as well as crab-related kitchen tools, seasonings and sauces.

Jim Stone's The Retriever

The Liberty, Missouri, store put together a large case display that recreated the “Retriever,” Stone’s boat featured in the “Deadliest Catch” episodes. Stone signed the boat while in the store and later posted a message of thanks to the Liberty store on its Facebook page.

“Jim Stone was extremely touched that the Liberty store took the time and effort to use his boat as the theme for the crab promotion,” said Nancy Pagel, Kansas City-area marketing director. “In addition to an impressive crab display in their seafood case, one of the store’s chefs also sampled various crab recipes, including crab Rangoon pizza.”

Hy-Vee is committed to selling high-quality seafood that not only is safe for consumption, but that also is harvested or raised in a manner that provides for its long-term viability while minimizing damage to the environment and other sea life.

Crab Display - Blue Springs

Stores visited:

  • Ankeny (Iowa) No. 2
  • Blue Springs (Missouri)
  • Kansas City (Missouri) No. 3
  • Liberty (Missouri)
  • Olathe (Kansas) No. 1
  • Waukee (Iowa)
  • West Des Moines (Iowa) No. 3

Biographies of the Alaska Crab Industry Experts:

    • Jim Stone began fishing Bering Sea crab in 1978. He became a crab boat captain in 1987 and started buying in as a crab boat owner that same year. Stone now owns three fishing boats. He is active in and on the boards of several Alaska fishing trade organizations, former and founding president of Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers and current president of the Alaska Scallop Association. He appeared on the first season of the Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch.”

 

    • Mark Gleason began fishing in Alaska in 1995 and continued to fish from Alaska to Southern California until 2008. Gleason holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees focused primarily on fisheries and ocean policy. He worked in the U.S. Senate as a staffer on the Commerce Committee handling all ocean-related legislation, then as the government affairs representative for a Seattle-based fishing company. For the last three years, Gleason has been the executive director of the Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers, a trade association that represents about 70 percent of the harvesters fishing for crab in the Bering Sea.

 

    • Jake Jacobsen has worked in Alaska and West Coast fisheries since 1968 and has operated many vessels. He was the engineer on a Bering Sea crab boat at age 18 and captain at age 26. Jacobsen was executive director of the Alaska Marketing Association from 1994 to 2005, representing crab harvesters in price negotiations with processors. He is currently executive director of Inter-Cooperative Exchange, a crab harvesting cooperative that typically harvests about 70 percent of the Bering Sea crab quota.

 

  • Mark R. Jones is the retail marketing representative for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI). He partners with retailers and distributors across the United States to merchandise and promote Alaska seafood products and the execution of tie-in opportunities for the Alaska seafood industry, such as co-op or themed promotions.

Responsible Choice Copper River Wild Sockeye Salmon

It’s a new year, and many people are making resolutions committing to healthier lifestyles. At Hy-Vee, we make it easy to find delicious, quality wild salmon. We have a large amount of Copper River sockeye salmon for our frozen supply this year, allowing us to offer it to you all year long. These amazing fish have extremely high fat content, high heart-healthy omega-3 content, a rich flavor and a deep ruby-red color. Copper River sockeye have a higher than average oil content due to the swift, cold waters where they live and thrive.

These fish originate from the world-famous Copper River, known for the best salmon available anywhere. Copper River sockeye salmon is Responsible Choice and a testament to our commitment to responsibly source all fresh and Hy-Vee brand seafood. It can be argued that Alaska’s Copper River sockeye are the finest sockeye salmon in the world.

The Copper River or Ahtna River is a 300-mile river in south-central Alaska in the United States. 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 10th largest river in the United States, as ranked by average discharge volume at its mouth.

In Alaska, sustainability of the seafood industry is so important that it’s written into the state Constitution. Not only does Copper River wild sockeye salmon meet Hy-Vee’s high standards for freshness, but it’s also fish you can feel good about eating. With the Responsible Choice label comes the confidence in knowing the fishery or farm uses sustainable catch methods.

Responsible Choice Oysters Will Please Your Holiday Guests

Hy-Vee customers who love oysters can feel confident that they are making a Responsible Choice when buying wild oysters from the fisheries of U.S. Gulf of Mexico states. The Gulf of Mexico is a well-managed area, and because oysters are often eaten raw, the beds are constantly monitored to make sure their oysters are safe to harvest and consume. All Hy-Vee’s shucked oysters are considered a Responsible Choice, so rest assured that you are purchasing a fresh product that was harvested in a manner that is also safe for the ecosystem.

Hy-Vee’s fresh shucked oysters vary in size and weight depending on season and harvest area. Our shucked oysters are sorted into three categories: standard, select and count. Our standard oysters are normal-sized oysters perfect for stews and stuffing. Select oysters are larger than normal and are great for stews and frying. Count oysters are the very largest of the harvest and are ideal for large fried oysters.

Each shipment of shucked oysters is inspected by our onsite U.S. Department of Commerce (USDC) inspector at our warehouse in Ankeny, guaranteeing the highest quality and freshness throughout Hy-Vee’s eight-state region.

If you’re entertaining guests and serving oysters, consider offering beers that complement the oysters’ flavor. Brain Hoppe, a certified cicerone at our Hy-Vee South store in Iowa City, says stouts — Old-World Guinness may be a good one — have a rich caramel quality that accentuates the creamy aspect of seafood, making them the perfect match.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and have fun entertaining!

Adding Responsible Choice Seafood to Your Traditional Christmas Dinner

Responsible Choice seafood is a delicious and easy way to improve your health year-round, and it is a great way to bring a lighter dish to your holiday table.

The American Heart Association recommends consuming fish two times per week with servings of 3.5 ounces or about 3/4 cup of flaked fish. Seafood is naturally high in essential vitamins like A, E, D and C and minerals like zinc, iron, calcium and selenium. Seafood is also low in calories, and cholesterol in shellfish is equal to the amount of cholesterol in lean beef.

Yet traditional holiday dinners often include other main courses such as turkey, ham, roasts or prime rib. For a flavorful and nutritious dinner option, consider adding Responsible Choice seafood to your spread using fatty fish such as wild Alaska salmon, Hy-Vee Select canned pole and troll albacore tuna or U.S.-farmed rainbow trout. Fatty fish tend to be higher in omega-3 fatty acids which have several health benefits that may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, reduce inflammation and assist with brain function. Most seafood has no saturated fat content, which will provide a great option for your guests watching their fat intake.

Don’t know how to add Responsible Choice seafood to your Christmas dinner? Here are a variety of delicious, healthy ideas:

  • Marinate and grill in aluminum foil
  • Use in casseroles instead of beef or chicken
  • Use in sandwiches and salads for a lean protein
  • Pan-fry in a small amount of olive oil with your favorite herbs and seasonings
  • Use in a stir-fry with your favorite vegetables
  • Incorporate into a light pasta dish
  • Use in your favorite soup and stew recipes

Hy-Vee makes it easy for you to make these healthy choices for the holidays. Hy-Vee Responsible Choice seafood comes from the best, top-quality suppliers in the industry. Hy-Vee employs a full-time, in-house U.S. Department of Commerce federal inspector, and the seafood program is U.S. Federal Drug Administration and Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Point-approved. Our warehouse has fresh seafood arriving daily by plane or truck and it’s lot-inspected for quality and wholesomeness.

Look for Responsible Choice seafood at your local Hy-Vee today.

Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice Website Updates

In efforts to better inform customers about our progress toward meeting our 2015 Responsible Sourcing Commitment this past year, we have added additional information and resources to the Responsible Choice section of our website.

One highlight: as of September 2014, 69 percent of Hy-Vee’s fresh and private-label frozen seafood met the goal of being responsibly sourced and traceable or involved in a time-bound improvement process for completion by year-end 2015. This is a seven percent improvement from an analysis made in March 2014.

FishWise

We have also included information about the sourcing of our private-label Hy-Vee Select solid light tuna and Hy-Vee Select solid white albacore tuna. Canned tuna is one of the top three most-consumed seafood products in the United States and is in high demand. However, its popularity has also led to the decline of many tuna stocks in the world’s oceans and the use of poor fishing methods. Given these concerns, Hy-Vee recently unveiled these two new canned tuna products offering a Responsible Choice option for a popular product.

To promote healthy oceans and ensure long-term seafood supplies, Hy-Vee is actively encouraging many of its seafood suppliers to participate in fishery improvement project (FIPs). These are an important component of Hy-Vee’s Seafood Procurement Policy as they provide a direct pathway for Hy-Vee to encourage supplier sustainability. Hy-Vee and its suppliers are involved in improvement projects for the following species: swordfish, wild shrimp, snapper, grouper and blue swimming crab.

We also added information on what customers can do to help save the oceans. Examples include purchasing Hy-Vee seafood with the Responsible Choice label and becoming educated about ocean sustainability research from other sources such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch website.

We invite you to visit Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice website to review our progress, changes and additional information.

Responsible Choice Belize Shrimp Stands Out in Your Holiday Recipes

At Hy-Vee, we are determined to promote healthy oceans and ensure the long-term sustainability of the seafood supply, both in the United States and abroad. As a part of this commitment and our Responsible Choice initiative, we are proud to offer Belize shrimp to our customers.

responsible-choice-logoResponsible Choice Belize shrimp are from farms in an area of the world with the ideal conditions for shrimp farming including perfect weather, clean water and farmers who care for the product. These shrimp are truly fresh out of the water. The shrimp’s processing contains no additives or preservatives, including no added 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.

With the holidays upon us, taste is especially important while entertaining. The shrimp have a unique taste, considered sweet by many customers’ palates. Belize shrimp will cook in half the time as typical shrimp, usually only about one to two minutes, due to their freshly harvested properties. When cooked, they turn a vibrant red color, darker than others you may have seen, which will make your shrimp dishes even more striking. To enjoy some of the best-tasting shrimp in the world, just use Belize shrimp in your favorite holiday shrimp recipes. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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.