What’s the Catch? Key Issues Affecting Seafood Sustainability

Four primary issues affect the sustainability of seafood, and Hy-Vee is paying close attention as part of the company’s efforts to responsibly source its fresh and private label frozen seafood products by the end of 2015.

One is no more important than another. If one of the issues gets out of balance, it can affect another.

1. Impacts on target stock – is the species being overfished? One example of a species that is being overfished is Bluefin tuna, which is called “toro” in fancy sushi restaurants. Hy-Vee doesn’t carry Bluefin tuna because of the many environmental issues associated with this fishery.

These days, the United States does a good job managing its fisheries and products from domestic fisheries usually meet Hy-Vee’s definition of responsible sourcing. But there have been problems in the past – with Atlantic cod, for example – and when fisheries are depleted, recovery takes a very long time because the fish are long-lived and don’t reproduce quickly. That means a long period where certain species are unavailable from the time the overfishing stops and the population rebounds.

One issue we’re seeing now is that as domestic stocks are recovering, international fisheries are being depleted.

2. Impacts on other species (bycatch) – how much bycatch is occurring and what non-target species are being caught accidentally? Some gear types like huge longlines indiscriminately catch endangered species like sea birds, sharks, and sea turtles, while some gear types are more selective and only catch one fish at a time.

In the conservation world, the incidental catch of large marine mammals like dolphins helped inspire people and catalyze a movement toward more awareness of the serious issues with fishing. That problem is less severe now, but bycatch is still a problem and we’re seeing issues with other species.

3. Habitat and ecosystem impacts – is the fishing gear affecting the surrounding habitat? Is the fishery removing all the top predators from the ecosystem and changing the dynamics of the marine community? Some gear types like trawl nets that drag along the seafloor can have a significant impact on ancient coral communities – some of them 1,000 years old or more – while some gear types like pole-and-line never come into contact with the bottom.

We have to be mindful that when we take away too many predators, the ecosystem can get out of balance and that can affect the habitat sea life needs to survive.

An example of this is found in kelp forests, where sea otters were hunted for their furs. With the predators gone, that allowed the sea urchins to invade and eat the kelp. The effects were felt throughout the ecosystem, as the kelp is important habitat not only for marine mammals like sea otters, sea lions, seals and grey whales, but also for many types of rockfish.

4. Management – are the rules regulating the fishery working? Most fisheries in the US are very well managed but some international fisheries have lax regulations, or no regulations at all. Illegal fishing can be a major problem in fisheries with poor management. Illegal fishing harms honest fishermen, weakens coastal communities, is associated with crime such as narcotraffic and human rights abuses, and undermines companies like Hy-Vee that are trying to do the right thing.

Assessing these four criteria gives FishWise an understanding of the wild fisheries supplying Hy-Vee’s seafood products, and whether those products qualify for one of Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice labels. When Hy-Vee’s customers see the Responsible Choice label, they can be confident that the seafood they’re buying is not contributing to unhealthy oceans.

Recipe Spotlight: Surf and Turf with Responsible Choice Seafood and Angus Reserve Beef

A meal that pairs Responsible Choice seafood and Hy-Vee’s Angus Reserve Beef offers both satisfying taste and the confidence of knowing that the seafood is responsibly harvested and the beef is 100 percent natural and comes from Midwest-raised, grain-fed cattle.

Surf and turf is a favorite American cuisine. Angus Reserve Beef is naturally aged, so it’s also naturally tender. I like the contrast of somewhat sweet scallops with the char of the grill.

A word of caution: Don’t overcook the scallops or they will become rubbery. A minute to a minute and a half on each side is sufficient. Before cooking, be sure to pat them dry to remove excess moisture; otherwise, they will steam rather than sear.

The Angus Reserve Beef offers is priced at three tiers to meet different budgets: Prime Reserve, Choice Reserve and Angus Reserve.

Following are some surf and turf recipes to consider:

Crabmeat-Stuffed Lobster Tail

All you need:

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon zest
  • 4 (8 oz. each) lobster tails, thawed
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 4 tbsp salted butter
  • 5 tbsp minced onion
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 cup crushed round butter crackers
  • 1 1/2 cups jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 5 tbsp dry sherry
  • 2 tsp olive oil

All you do:

  1. To make lemon butter: combine 1/2 cup melted butter, lemon juice and lemon zest. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Split lobster tails in half. Remove tail meat, then replace in shells. Place lobster on baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then brush with melted lemon butter. Bake for 5 to 6 minutes.
  3. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan or sauté pan. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent. Do not brown. Fold in crushed crackers, crabmeat, salt, white pepper, lemon zest, sherry and olive oil.
  4. Remove lobster tails from the oven after 5 to 6 minutes. Brush again with melted lemon butter, then pack stuffing tightly on top. Bake for 12-1/2 to 13 minutes, until lobster meat reaches 145 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Brush one final time with melted lemon butter before serving.

Grilled Filet with Herb Butter

All you need:

  • 1 tbsp whipped or regular butter, slightly softened
  • 3 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh chives
  • 3 tsp minced fresh oregano, divided
  • 1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest, divided
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 pound filet mignon, about 1 1/2 inches thick, trimmed and cut into 4 portions

All you do:

  1. Preheat grill to high.
  2. Mash butter in a small bowl with the back of a spoon until soft and creamy. Stir in 2 teaspoons oil until combined. Add chives, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and place in the freezer.
  3. Combine the remaining 1 teaspoon oil, 2 teaspoons oregano, 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, rosemary, minced garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub on both sides of steak. Grill the steak 3 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Spread the herb butter on top of the steaks and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Grilled Sea Scallops with Lemon

All you need:

  • 3 scallops per person
  • extra virgin olive oil, as needed
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • herbed sea salt, as needed
  • cracked black pepper, as needed

All you do:

  1. Prepare grill for medium-high heat cooking and make sure the grates are clean.
  2. Toss scallops with olive oil, lemon zest, salt and pepper, just enough to coat. Place on grill for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes per side or just until cooked through.

Recipe Spotlight: Ahi Tuna with Mango Salsa Sizzles with Summer

Finally, it’s grilling season. Ahi tuna, also called yellowfin, is a great fish for the grill because it’s firm, moist and takes very little time to cook – meaning you can get back to enjoying summer.

When choosing Ahi tuna, one of our great Responsible Choice species, look for firm flesh and a bright red color with little to no blood line.

I like this recipe because it is a versatile dish that can be used as an appetizer or it can be paired with a couple of summery side dishes to make a complete meal. It is a great choice whether your goal is to impress your guests with a bright flavor sensation or take care of a weeknight meal in short order.

The mango salsa can be prepared ahead of time and the tuna takes only 4 minutes on the grill, so you won’t be spending a lot of time cooking while your guests wait, which can be a hassle.

This is a great light dish that will leave your guests feeling full and satisfied, without adding a lot of calories.


Grilled Ahi Tuna with Mango Salsa

Serves 4

All you need:

  • 1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, deseeded and minced
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 4 (5 oz each) ahi tuna fillets
  • 1 tsp lemon pepper
  • salad or grilled asparagus, for serving

All you do:

  1. In a medium-size bowl, combine the mango, red onion, red pepper, jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated. Refrigerate for 1 hour to bring out the flavors.
  2. Preheat the grill. Season tuna with lemon pepper and grill on high heat for 90 seconds to 2 minutes per side for a rare to medium-rare steak. Set aside.
  3. Top each steak with a generous portion of mango salsa. Serve with a side of fresh salad or grilled asparagus for a complete meal.

The Ross Sea Pledge isn’t Just Words on Paper for Hy-Vee

As part of our efforts to responsibly source Hy-Vee seafood and fish, we’re involved in some behind-the-scenes environmental efforts intended to prevent some problems before they occur.

One of those efforts is the Ross Sea Pledge. The Ross Sea teems with species of large predatory fish and small krill, tiny crustaceans that are a giant link in the aquatic food chain and help sustain the whales, seals, penguins and other aquatic mammals that live in this pristine, unaltered ecosystem. It’s a magnificent “living laboratory” for scientists to study marine life and is known as “the last ocean” because of its relatively untouched state.

Unfortunately, the Ross Sea is vulnerable. By signing the Ross Sea Pledge, Hy-Vee has given its word that it won’t be part of that developing problem and is, in fact, part of the solution. 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, NGOs and the fishing industry.

Hy-Vee is proud to be part of that group. What it means to customers is that we will not procure Antarctic toothfish (known as Chilean sea bass) from the Ross Sea. By taking a hands-off approach to that species from the Southern Ocean, we join others in working to reduce the level of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the Southern Ocean. Chilean sea bass is a notorious species for IUU fishing.

We’re not the only retailer supporting the initiative, but we are one of the few who are taking these aggressive steps to ensure that we’re procuring seafood for our customers in a way that not only protects the supply of seafood for generations to come but also the health of the oceans.

By the end of 2015, all fresh and Hy-Vee brand seafood will be responsibly sourced.

We’ve staked our corporate word on that, something we don’t do lightly. It’s not just lip service; we’re taking the actions to back it up.

More detailed information about the Ross Sea can be found here.

Recipe Spotlight: Love Oysters Rockefeller? Chef Andrew Has You Covered

Authored by Chef Andrew Kintigh and John Rohrs

John here:
Hy-Vee customers who love oysters can feel confident when they come from the fisheries of U.S. Gulf of Mexico states. This is an extremely well-managed area, and because they’re often eaten raw, the beds are constantly monitored to make sure they’re safe to harvest and consume.

Hurricanes and other disasters can cause a loss of habitat, but right now, there’s a consistent supply due to seasonal limits and fishing gear restrictions. The fisheries use tongs or small dredges to eliminate bycatch and to reduce effects on the ocean floor that could harm other species.

All of Hy-Vee’s Gulf oysters are Responsible Choice, part of our commitment to environmental stewardship to ensure healthy oceans and an abundant supply of seafood for generations to come.

Andrew here:
Below are a couple of my favorite recipes for Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice oysters from the Gulf of Mexico:

Oysters Rockefeller

All you need:

Mignonette Sauce

  • 3/4 cup champagne vinegar
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 2 tbsp cracked black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp chopped chervil
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced

Oysters

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs, panko preferred
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup Pernod
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • dash red pepper sauce
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 dozen oysters, on the half shell
  • rock salt
  • lemon wedges, for garnish

All you do:

  1. Sauce: In a small bowl whisk together all ingredients. Cover and chill 1 hour before serving with oysters.
  2. Melt butter in a skillet. Sauté the garlic for 2 minutes to infuse the butter.
  3. Place the bread crumbs in a mixing bowl and add half the garlic butter; set aside. To the remaining garlic butter in the skillet, add shallots and spinach. Cook for 3 minutes until the spinach wilts. Deglaze the pan with Pernod; season with salt and pepper. Add a dash of red pepper sauce. Allow the mixture to cook down for a few minutes.
  4. Finish off the bread crumbs by mixing in olive oil, Parmesan and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  6. Spoon 1 heaping teaspoon of the spinach mixture on each oyster followed by a spoonful of the bread crumb mixture. Sprinkle a baking pan amply with rock salt. Arrange the oysters in the salt to steady them. Bake in a preheated 450-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes until golden. Serve with lemon wedges and Mignonette Sauce.

 

Charbroiled Oysters on the Half Shell

All you need:

  • 8 oz softened butter
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • pinch dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 dozen large, freshly shucked oysters on the half shell
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan and Romano cheeses, mixed
  • 1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

All you do:

  1. Heat a gas or charcoal grill. In a medium bowl, mix butter with garlic, pepper, salt and oregano.
  2. Place oysters on the half shell right over the hottest part of grill. Spoon enough of the seasoned butter over the oysters so that some of it will overflow into the fire and flame up a bit.
  3. The oysters are ready when they puff up and get curly on the sides, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the grated Parmesan and Romano cheeses and parsley on top. Serve the oysters on the shells immediately with baguette bread.

Hy-Vee is Working Behind the Scenes on Marine Conservation Programs That Make Every Day Earth Day

Authored by Kathleen Mullen-Ley & Nate Stewart

How Hy-Vee’s Responsible Seafood Program relates to the larger picture of marine conservation.

Earth Day is Tuesday, April 22, but Hy-Vee is making environmentally responsible choices every day. One of the most visible is the Responsible Choice initiative – Hy-Vee’s pledge to customers to responsibly source all fresh and frozen Hy-Vee brand fish by the end of 2015.

Less visible but no less important are three major marine conservation initiatives.
These are huge efforts that are not necessary to meeting Hy-Vee’s seafood goals, but are important to Hy-Vee in establishing itself as an industry leader in marine conservation issues.

Retailer participation in advocacy issues and reform is becoming increasingly important to customers as public awareness of threats to marine ecosystems grows. Hy-Vee supports the following three initiatives to help protect the oceans.

  1. Ross Sea Pledge
    The Ross Sea in Antarctica is the least altered marine ecosystem on Earth, supporting exceptional abundances of krill, penguins, fishes, and marine mammals, and it offers important scientific research opportunities only available in this unique place. To support the creation of a marine protected area in one of the world’s most isolated and pristine ecosystems, Hy-Vee publicly pledged that it will not procure Antarctic toothfish (also known as Chilean sea bass) from the Ross Sea.
  2. Genetically Engineered Seafood Pledge
    Hy-Vee extended its commitment to not sell genetically engineered (GE) salmon to include all GE seafood. There currently is no GE seafood on the market, but Hy-Vee is taking this proactive step in part because a technology company has petitioned the FDA for approval of an Atlantic salmon that contains genes from several other species that allow it to grow faster.This is a concern not only for the 93 percent of Americans who favor GMO labeling, but also from an environmental standpoint. Because they are modified to grow faster, there are valid concerns that these farm-raised GE salmon could escape and out-compete wild salmon populations, leading to the decline of wild salmon stocks. Anyone who values biological diversity does not want to go in that direction.
  3. Protection for the Bering Sea Canyons
    On Jan. 28, 2014, Hy-Vee sent a letter to the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council (NPFMC) in support of the establishment of a Fishery Ecosystem Management Plan for the Bering Sea, including protections for the Zhemchung and Pribilof canyons.A protected zone over these canyons is important because these areas have deep sea coral and sponge habitat that provide a very rare nursery for fish. Healthy coral and sponge habitat leads to healthy stocks of many commercially important fish, including Alaska pollock, Pacific cod, and numerous species of rockfish.

All three of these initiatives are ongoing, and Hy-Vee is committed to remaining engaged.

Recipe Spotlight: Salmon and Halibut Make Holiday Meals Extra Special

Ham and lamb often get the nod when people are thinking about what to put on the Easter holiday table, but Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice salmon and halibut offer some serious competition. Either will stand up well as a main dish.

I’ve selected two recipes that offer a unique presentation and will look beautiful on your holiday table and will leave your guests raving about the meal. Guests will remember these two dishes, whereas the ham they had last year may not be all that memorable.

They’re a nice choice going into spring when people want to get away from some of the heavier foods of winter. They’re both flavorful, but light.

Both dishes also present well. Shingle the fish on a nice white platter and garnish with colorful citrus and you’ll have a presentation that will be very aesthetically pleasing to your guests.


Poached Salmon with Pineapple Cucumber Raita

All you need:

Salmon

  • 1 1/2 quarts vegetable stock
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 3 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 9 sprigs parsley
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/4 tsp peppercorns
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 pounds center-cut salmon fillet, cut into 4 pieces

Pineapple Cucumber Raita

  • 1 English cucumber, seeded and grated
  • 3/4 cup small diced fresh pineapple
  • 2 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste

All you do:

  1. In a large deep poaching pan, combine the vegetable stock, wine, vinegar, onion, carrot, parsley, thyme, peppercorns, bay leaves and 2 1/4 teaspoons  salt. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the cucumber, pineapple, yogurt, garlic, mint and cilantro; season to taste with salt and pepper and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. Add the salmon to the liquid in the pan and bring back to a simmer. Simmer, partially covered, until the fish is just barely done (it should still be translucent in the center), about 4 minutes for a 1-inch-thick fillet. Remove the pan from the heat and let the fish sit in the liquid for 2 minutes. Transfer to plates and, if you like, remove the skin. Serve the salmon warm, topped with the raita.

Halibut with Chimichurri

All you need:

Chimichurri

  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh oregano leaves
  • 1/2 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Halibut

  • 4 halibut steaks
  • olive oil for brushing
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste

All you do:

  1. In a food processor, place garlic, cilantro, parsley, thyme, oregano and red pepper flakes; pulse until herbs are coarsely ground. Add lemon zest and red wine vinegar; slowly drizzle in olive oil to create an emulsion. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
  2. Heat an outdoor gas grill, or prepare coals for a charcoal grill for direct grilling over medium-high heat. Brush the cooking grates clean and oil the grill rack. Brush steaks with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill halibut over direct heat 10 minutes, turning once, or until just opaque but still moist in the center.
  3. Spoon chimichurri over grilled halibut and serve with steamed rice or quinoa.

There’s No Reason to Avoid Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice Farm-Raised Fish and Seafood

The reputation of farm-raised fish and seafood is improving to the point that you’re probably eating more farm-raised seafood than you know. Anytime you’re ordering it off the menu, it’s probably farm-raised unless it’s specifically labeled as wild caught.

The problem with farm-raised fish in the past was that it was penned too tightly. One of the problems with that is the same as putting too many people in a pressurized cabin on an airplane. If several people have colds, there’s a good chance many people will catch it. In the oceans, if disease gets to the native fish it can cause a kill.

Large pens of farmed fish also creates waste and uneaten feed that goes to the sea floor, causing negative impacts on crustaceans and other sea life.

But that’s the past. Hy-Vee’s commitment to responsibly choice its seafood by the end of 2015 means our customers won’t have to worry about those practices.

Modern aquaculture practices bear no resemblance to those Old World practices where shrimp was raised in the mud, tilapia in the water and poultry occupied cages resting above the water, creating a not so appetizing circle of life that might have seemed efficient. Today, fish aren’t packed in as tightly in the big enclosed systems used to raise tilapia and trout, and fresh water is filtered and recirculated.

One species where we’ve seen the biggest gains is in tilapia, a fish that has exploded over the last 10 years and is farm-raised all over the world.

We don’t have to go far down the road here in Iowa to see how it’s raised. The Waterfront Drive store in Iowa City, where I work, is one of the few places around that live tilapia can be found. It’s raised by Kingfisher Farms in Long Grove, Iowa, just north of Davenport, in an enclosed tank system. It’s a local, organic operation and you can’t beat it for freshness. Due to the environmentally friendly way that it’s farmed, Kingfisher Farms’ tilapia is a Hy-Vee Responsible Choice.

The system there is very similar. Tilapia are vegetarians, so farmers are able to avoid one of the biggest issues that gives farm-raised fish a bad reputation: in too many farm operations, it takes too many pounds of fish to grow a pound of fish.

One of most exciting developments in aquaculture comes from Chile, where Hy-Vee procures its Responsible Choice Verlasso salmon. Chile is one of the countries where most fish farms still need a lot of work, because fish are packed in too tightly. Verlasso salmon is different.

What Verlasso has done is huge. Not only are fewer fish raised in a pen, the company has developed a feed that has achieved a 1:1.34 ratio in that the fish meal they’ve developed uses slightly over one pound of wild fish to create one pound of salmon. That’s the reason most salmon isn’t Responsible Choice; it uses too much wild fish in the meal.

Verlasso has changed the feed without changing the flavor, which is one of the biggest issues people have had with farm-raised salmon. It still contains those essential Omega-3 fatty acids people want, and it still has the same texture people want.

Salmon is a very popular fish, and wild-caught salmon can only supply about 10 percent of the demand for the salmon, so Responsible Choice options like Verlasso are very important.

Farm-raised mussels are also Responsible Choice. They filter and help clean the water, so they’re actually helping the environment rather than harming it. They grown and multiply quickly and they don’t have to be fed. So we haven’t seen huge changes in those practices, because the fisheries have been doing the right thing for a long time.

We’re watching a shrimp out of Belize very closely. The shrimp industry has been slow to change, but it is beginning to adopt better practices. Hy-Vee has picked up fully traceable shrimp from Belize Aquaculture Ltd., which last year earned a three-star rating from the Global Aquaculture Alliance. It’s the best farm-raised shrimp out there, and we’re glad we can offer it to our customers.

Recipe Spotlight: Thinking Globally While Eating Locally: Feel Good About This Cod Stew

John here:
Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice seafood initiative responds to a growing interest among eaters in knowing where their food comes from, as well as our commitment to healthy oceans to ensure a bountiful supply of seafood for generations to come.

When they choose seafood from Alaska, consumers can feel 100 percent confident about the fish. It’s written into the state’s Constitution that the fishing industry, Alaska’s largest private-sector employer, use sustainable practices to ensure a plentiful supply of fish and healthy oceans for many years to come.

The fisheries live and die by that principle. Some of the best fish to come out of Alaska is Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice cod. It’s a mild white fish that many people are familiar with, most of the fish sandwiches out there are cod, and one that Hy-Vee frequently features in the seafood case.


Andrew Kintigh here:
The spring and summer growing season is just around the corner, meaning more locally produced vegetables will be available in the produce section at local Hy-Vee stores.

Some examples: We’ll soon be featuring Foxx tomatoes grown in Grimes, as well as organic produce and vegetables grown right here in Iowa. We also have relationships with Deardorff corn out of Adel, Grady’s tomatoes from Carroll and Mariposa Farms herbs from Grinnell, among others.

Different stores carry different local foods, so be sure to check your produce aisle to find what’s being grown near your back yard.

This Moroccan Cod Stew is a good, versatile recipe you can make their own by adding almost any kind of locally grown vegetable – peppers, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, English cucumbers, summer squash, zucchini and green beans are some good choices.

The broth is very forgiving, and it’s also light. You may not think about stew as a summer recipe, but especially when locally grown produce is added, it just screams spring and summer.

If you’re adding to the recipe, you may have to throw in some extra vegetable stock, depending on how thick of a stew you want. Also, be sure to think about cooking times. Throw in the root vegetables in the beginning and the fresher vegetables at the end so they’ll be crisp and retain their taste.

Pair this with a nice salad with local greens and tomatoes, and you’ve got a meal you can feel good about eating.


Moroccan Cod Stew with Chickpeas

All you need:

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, cut in small dice (choose locally sourced leeks if possible)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 2 (14.5 oz each) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 1/4 pounds Alaska cod fillet, cubed
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups rough chopped kale greens (choose locally sourced kale if possible)
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

All you do:

  1. Heat the coconut oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook until softened. Add garlic, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, turmeric and cayenne pepper; sauté for 1 minute.
  2. Add brown sugar and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add tomatoes and vegetable broth and bring the soup to a simmer. Add cod and chickpeas and simmer until all are tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the kale greens to the pot and cook for 1 minute or until just wilted. Season with salt and pepper and top with toasted almonds.