What’s the Catch with Farm-Raised Seafood: Responsible Choice Farmed Seafood is Addressing Some of the Major Issues Affecting Sustainability

When we look at the sustainability of farm raised seafood at FishWise – Hy-Vee’s adviser in its Responsible Choice initiative to responsibly source its fresh and frozen Hy-Vee brand fish and seafood by the end of 2015 – we assess five main criteria: data; pollution, habitat impacts, and chemical use; feed; escapes and disease transfer; and the source of the eggs/larvae.

Here’s a closer look at each:

    1. Data – the quality and relevance of available data:
      • Data poor operations are not sustainable. In some places where species are farmed, we don’t have data on the effluent, stocking density, and other sorts of parameters that can affect wild stocks and the health of the ocean.
    2. Pollution, habitat impacts, and chemical use – handling farm wastes to prevent pollution, minimizing damage to surrounding habitats during farm construction, and minimizing the use of chemicals:
      • Pollution from farms comes from discharging wastewater into the surrounding environment. If a farm treats or recirculates its water, the risks of polluting the environment is much lower than for farms that flush their ponds/cages regularly without filtering or treating it.
      • For habitat impacts, we consider what kind of habitat, if any, is damaged during farm construction. For example, farms that are built in ecologically valuable mangrove forests are not considered sustainable.
      • Some farms use chemicals to disinfect ponds, treat the water, prevent or control disease outbreaks, and a variety of other reasons. Farms that use a lot of chemicals can have a negative impact on the surrounding environment and can contribute to diseases becoming resistant. In some very egregious cases, we’ve found farms that use the same antibiotics that would be prescribed for a human ailment, diminishing the efficacy of those antibiotics for their intended purpose.
    3. Feed – Consumption of resources, such as wild fish and other proteins, in feeds for the production of farmed fish:
      • How much wild fish is being used in the feed for farmed fish depends on the species being grown.
      • Carnivorous species like salmon require a high amount of wild fish, while vegetarian fish like catfish and tilapia require little to no wild fish in the feed. Most sustainable of all species in this area are filter feeders like oysters and mussels, which do not require any feed.
      • A species like farmed salmon can take up to three pounds of wild fish to produce one pound of salmon. Ideally, we want a one-to-one ratio or better.
      • The industry has strongly responded to concerns related to fish feed and we’ve seen a lot of improvement in this area.
    4. Escapes and disease transfer – risk of fish escaping from farms and risk of diseases from farmed fish spreading to wild stocks, negatively impacting wild ecosystems:
      • If farmed fish that escape into the wild thrive and become established in an area in which they had not lived prior to the farm, they become known as invasive species. Invasive species can have negative effects on native species by outcompeting them for resources (food, habitat, etc.).
      • Some invasive species can also interbreed with wild populations, reducing the biodiversity of the wild population and making the population more susceptible to diseases and other changes.
      • We’ve seen aquaculture operations responding to this concern with mitigation measures, such as covering pens with nets that prevent fish from escaping over the top of the pen during storm.
    5. Source of eggs/larvae – independence of eggs/larvae (seedstock) from wild fish stocks:
      • Some farming operations remove the eggs/larvae/juveniles from the wild population to grow, reducing the health of the wild stock.
      • For example, Bluefin tuna farmed in the Mediterranean Sea are actually raised from juveniles that are caught in the wild in a practice that is often called “ranching.” This depletes the wild stock since those fish will not have a chance to reproduce in the wild.

The most sustainable type of aquaculture is done in land-based, closed-containment systems that recirculate and clean the water. At FishWise, we’re all about closed-containment aquaculture systems, and the technology is improving to make these systems more affordable.

Grilling Hy-Vee Responsible Choice Seafood: Let the Grill Do the Work

Grilling is one of the best ways to prepare Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice fish and seafood in the summertime, but it also can be intimidating. Fish is so delicate that a few wrong steps can cause the fish to fall apart

Two of the top tips are to touch the fish no more than necessary – let the direct heat of the grill do the work for you – and to start with a clean surface lightly sprayed with Hy-Vee non-stick cooking spray.

Wild salmon, which is coming into our stores fresh from Alaska for the next couple of months, is great on the grill. So are halibut steaks, swordfish and tuna. Other fish can work well with some extra precaution, and I’ll get to that later.

Plank it:

A popular way to prepare wild salmon is to cook it on cedar planks, which adds nice smokiness and a cedar flavor to the fish. To plank salmon, just soak the plank in water overnight.

Or, if you want to infuse some other flavors, try soaking the planks in smoked porter beer or an oaked chardonnay.

Pouch it:

If you don’t want to take a chance of the fish sticking, cook it en papillote, which literally means cooking “in paper.” If you’re using parchment paper, as the French recommend, use medium-high indirect heat. Add a little white wine, some fresh herbs and vegetables or citrus fruits, like lemon, orange or grapefruit, and you’ve got a meal in a bag.

A foil pouch also works. Just make sure you poke a few holes in the foil to allow the smoke flavor to infuse.

Marinate it in alcohol:

An alcohol marinade can release a new flavor sensation, but be sure not to overdo it. Alcohol is great for tenderizing meat, so don’t overdo it – 30 minutes tops, just long enough to infuse the flavor. If the fish is in the marinade too long, especially if it’s an acidic marinade, the proteins can begin to coagulate and the cooking process can begin.

Some combinations to think about include tequila-lime scallops, bourbon and brown sugar-glazed wild salmon, whiskey and brown sugar-glazed wild salmon, and vodka and wild salmon.

Skin on or off:

This is a matter of preference. If you’re going to remove the skin, start with the presentation side down on the grill, and flip it only one time, after about 4 minutes.

If you’re going to leave the skin on, that’s the presentation side and there’s no need to flip it. Just make sure the skin is crispy and not mushy.

Again, you don’t want to mess with it too much. It will release itself from the grill when it is cooked. Moving it around on the grill tears up the flesh.

Other fish:

Catfish, tilapia and some of the more delicate white fishes generally don’t hold up well during grilling, but you can still enjoy them. Hy-Vee sells stainless steel fish baskets that will hold them together.

Whole rainbow trout also works well. Score the skin on both sides and slip citrus and herbs under the skin to add more flavor. Some of the herbs that work well include thyme, tarragon, fennel, dill, rosemary and oregano.

Don’t ever do this:

One thing you never want to do is re-cook shrimp. You can reheat it briefly – 30 seconds tops –  but any more than that will make it a rubbery mess.

A good way to grill raw, deveined shrimp is to skewer, add some lemon and pepper and grill a couple of minutes on each side. Be sure you use some of the larger shrimp available in our seafood cases. Shrimp is not a Responsible Choice at Hy-Vee yet, but we’re working on it and will have shrimp that meets our environmental standards by the end of 2015.

Don’t overcook it:

One of the common mistakes in grilling fish is to overcook it. Here’s a guide:

Fillets (tilapia and catfish): 1/2- to 3/4-inch thickness, medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes

Firm steaks (halibut, wild salmon, tuna, swordfish): 1-inch thickness, medium to medium-high heat, 10 minutes

Lobster tails: 8- to 10-ounce, medium heat, 8 to 10 minutes

Raw shrimp (not a Responsible Choice): 21- to 25-count per pound, medium heat, 4 to 5 minutes; under 10-count per pound, 6 to 8 minutes, medium heat

Farmed scallops, clams, mussels: under 12 per pound, medium heat, 4 to 5 minutes

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.

Recipe highlight: Sockeye salmon is in season, fresh and a responsible choice option

Sockeye salmon is in season now and is arriving fresh daily at Hy-Vee.

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

The question isn’t so much whether you want to serve it to your family – of course you do, because it’s one of the healthiest species of seafood in our cases– but how to prepare it in a variety of ways.

I like this recipe because it offers a different take on preparing salmon. Salmon is a great grilling fish, but if you don’t have access to a grill or just prefer to cook inside, consider this recipe. It’s baked in the oven.

People don’t often think about using cheese when they prepare seafood, but the result with this recipe is a very creamy and very approachable taste, especially for new seafood eaters.

This recipe is very filling and meets several MyPlate requirements, offering protein, vegetables and dairy. It’s a perfect recipe for a crowd and is guaranteed to please.

Spinach and Artichoke Salmon

All you need:

  • 1 pound sockeye salmon fillet
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup Hy-Vee garlic aioli
  • 1/4 cup canned artichokes, then pureed
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

All you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Place salmon fillet on the baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Layer the spinach on top of the salmon in a very thin layer, so it covers the surface of the fish completely.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the aioli and artichoke puree; spread it evenly on top of spinach. Top with shredded Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.
  4. Bake in the oven for 14 to 16 minutes, then broil for 2 to 4 minutes, until cheese is golden brown.

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

Looking for Sockeye Salmon and Other Low-Mercury Fish? Look to Hy-Vee’s Low Mercury Card for Help

Authored by John Rohrs & Chef Adam Finnegan John here: Doctors advise pregnant women and others wanting to adopt a heart-healthy diet to eat more fish, but mercury content can be a concern. Hy-Vee works with its suppliers to provide several species that not only are responsibly caught, but contain very little mercury. The FDA doesn’t require mercury-content labels, but at Hy-Vee, we want to make sure that information is at consumers’ fingertips. Just look for the Responsible Choice seafood options on our Low Mercury Card, available at the seafood counter. Low mercury, responsibly harvested options include:

  • Catfish* (farmed in the USA)
  • Clams (farmed in the USA and wild)
  • Dungeness crab* (wild)
  • Mussels* (farmed)
  • Oysters* (farmed and wild)
  • Coho salmon* (wild USA and Canada)
  • King salmon* (wild USA and Canada)
  • Sockeye salmon* (wild USA and Canada)
  • Scallops (farmed and wild)
  • Trout* (farmed in the USA)

(*These species contain the daily minimum of Omega-3 fatty acids per 3.5 oz serving)

Adam here: One of the best options right now is sockeye salmon, which arrives fresh in the Hy-Vee stores during the summer season. This is very high-quality fish. Hy-Vee’s supplier owns the rights to a portion of the Copper River where sockeye salmon is harvested, so this is fish you can’t get anywhere else. It’s inspected and certified as wild-caught, hormone- and antibiotic-free, and it arrives packed in ice, every single day. It’s never frozen. With all that going for it, there’s no need to mess with it by adding heavy sauces and seasonings. Just add some salt, pepper and olive oil and keep it simple. Sockeye salmon is a firm fish that is best grilled. I prefer to grill it with the skin on or on a cedar plank, then I top it with a tropical salsa that has bright flavors.

Here is a salsa recipe that is a big hit with our customers. Combine all of the following ingredients and chill until you’re ready to serve it.

  • 3/4 cup diced mango
  • 3/4 cup diced grilled pineapple
  • 1 medium red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced fine
  • 2 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

If you don’t want to go to the trouble of making your own salsa, we’ve been doing them in-house and offer eight different salsas in our fresh cases. Our customers love the concept of topping their fish with our fresh salsas and our dietitians love it too.

At Hy-Vee, Every Day is World Oceans Day

Hy-Vee may be headquartered in Iowa, a landlocked state in the middle of the country without an ocean in sight, but the company’s strong Seafood Procurement Policy and its commitment to responsibly source all of its fresh and frozen Hy-Vee brand seafood by the end of 2015 reflect a growing global concern about the health of the world’s seas.

On Sunday, June 8, like-minded individuals, businesses and organizations paused to observe World Oceans Day, an idea first proposed in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, adopted by The Ocean Project in 2002 and formally adopted by the United Nations in 2008.

The theme of the 2014 observance, “Together we have the power to protect the ocean,” is in keeping with Hy-Vee’s commitment to help resolve the issues that affect the health of the ocean, including overfishing and habitat destruction.

Hy-Vee’s proactive Seafood Procurement Policy recognizes that certain types of seafood species are in danger or nearing endangerment status, and are harvested using methods that place unnecessary stress on the environment and other marine life.

In general, the company will do business only with suppliers who harvest or raise seafood in a manner that provide for long-term sustainability of the species while minimizing damage to the environment and other sea life. That means Hy-Vee will only do business with the better-performing seafood suppliers whose catch methods are consistent with the company’s commitment to prevent overfishing and damage to marine habitat.

Seafood is the largest food commodity traded globally, which connects us to the world ocean in other ways. That’s part of the reason Hy-Vee is working proactively behind the scenes on such environmental initiatives such as the Ross Sea Pledge and another to limit fishing in the Bering Sea’s Zhemchug and Pribilof Canyons.

During the global World Oceans Day celebration, hundreds of events were held around the globe to help individuals become part of the solution to the problems facing the ocean. Hy-Vee is demonstrating that every day.

Recipe Spotlight: Preparing Responsible Choice Seafood with Wine: If You Wouldn’t Drink It, Don’t Cook with It

Cooking Hy-Vee Responsible Choice seafood with wine can add a new dimension to the fish, enhancing flavors and adding new ones.

Remember, it’s only the alcohol content that diminishes when cooking, not the flavor of the wine. A good rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t drink the wine, don’t cook with it. It’s best to avoid wines that are labeled as cooking wine because they are often salty and can incorporate some different herbs and spices that will make your attempts at more adventurous cuisine fall flat.

A few words about this recipe: It uses Aborio rice, an Italian-style rice. Risotto refers to the method in which it is cooked.

Choose a good quality dry white wine, such as a buttery chardonnay.

Another tip: Have everything ready and measured out before you start to cook.

Shrimp Risotto with Peas and Parmesan

Serves 4

All you need:

  • 1/2 cup onion, cut in small dice
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 3 tbsp butter, divided
  • 1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine, divided
  • 3 cups seafood stock, divided
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound raw, peeled and deveined (16 – 20 count) Responsible Choice wild-caught Gulf shrimp
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon pepper seasoning
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lemons, 1 zested and juiced and 1 wedged
  • Lemon thyme, for garnish

All you do:

For the risotto:
1. Sauté onion in 2 tablespoons oil and 2 tablespoons butter for 3 minutes. Add rice, cook and stir for 2 minutes.

2. Stir in 1/4 cup white wine and 1 cup stock. Continue cooking and stirring until liquid is absorbed. Gradually stir in the remaining stock, 1 cup at a time, cooking and stirring until liquid is absorbed before adding the next cup.

3. Once liquid is incorporated and rice is el dente, fold in the Parmesan and peas. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm until shrimp are done.

To sauté shrimp:
4. In a large sauté pan, over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil. When the butter is melted, add the shrimp. Season with lemon pepper seasoning and a little salt. Cook for about 2 minutes.

5.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Deglaze the pan with remaining 1/4 cup wine. Cook for 1 minute. Add the juice and zest of 1 lemon and continue to cook for another minute.

To serve:
6. Place a bed of risotto on each plate. Top each with 6 to 8 shrimp. Garnish each with thyme and a lemon wedge.

How Deep is our Commitment to Responsibly Sourced Seafood? The Answer is Found on Hy-Vee Select Private Label Tuna

If you want to know how deep Hy-Vee’s commitment runs in its Responsible Choice seafood initiative, take a closer look at the fine print on Hy-Vee Select Private Label Tuna.

You’ll find guarantees there that you won’t find with major-label brands. Much of the canned tuna available on the market today is caught using industrial scale purse seines and longlines, which result in high levels of bycatch of non-target species, such as dolphins, sharks, turtles and other marine life.

That was a big concern for Hy-Vee, so we looked to FishWise to help us develop two private label lines that are making a huge difference.

Our new pole-and-line skipjack tuna and pole-and-troll albacore tuna are among the most progressive canned tuna offerings of any major retailer. The pole-and-line skipjack tuna, called ‘chunk light’ on the can, is especially impressive, given that the Monterey Bay Aquarium says it is the most sustainable option for any canned tuna.

The pole-and-troll albacore, called ‘solid or chunk white’ on the can, is sourced from Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries in the United States and New Zealand, and pole and troll are the two most selective albacore fishing methods, resulting in very little bycatch of non-target species.

This is a huge step forward in our sustainability program and our commitment to responsibly source all of our fresh and private label seafood by the end of 2015. For any retailer to do this is impressive, but it’s more so because Hy-Vee was able to pull this off in less than a year. It’s a matter of having the right suppliers, the right communication and a strong commitment to doing the right thing.

Also noteworthy: Hy-Vee’s private label products allow consumers to stretch their food dollars without sacrificing nutrition, taste or quality.

Recipe Spotlight: Create a Healthy Meal Plan with Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice Seafood and MyPlate

Eating healthy doesn’t mean that you have to stock your refrigerator and pantry with bland, boring foods and give up everything that tastes good.

In fact, the opposite is true. The proof is in the taste. Try this meal of Triple Berry Wild Salmon with Quinoa Pilaf and Mixed Salad Greens.

This menu plan uses fresh Alaskan salmon, a Responsible Choice option that will be available in Hy-Vee seafood cases through fall. When customers see the Responsible Choice label, they can feel confident the fish they’re purchasing was caught using catch or farming methods that protect the oceans and sea life for future generations.

It also follows MyPlate recommendations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that divides foods into five groups: protein, fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy. This menu plan contains four of the five food groups, and you can always meet the dairy requirement with a glass of milk or low-fat frozen yogurt or similar healthy dairy-based dessert.

Triple Berry Wild Salmon

Serves 2

All you need:

  • 2 tsp peanut oil
  • 2 tbsp chopped onions
  • 8 oz fresh Responsible Choice Alaska salmon
  • 5 asparagus spears, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup raspberries
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cup sliced strawberries
  • 2 tbsp orange juice, optional

All you do:

  1. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onions and brown slightly.
  2. Add salmon and asparagus; cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Add berries. They will release juices, but if the pan looks dry, stir in the orange juice.
  4. Cook until the salmon is cooked through, about 5 to 8 minutes.

Source: recipes.sparkpeople.com

Quinoa Pilaf

Serves 6

All you need:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup finely diced carrots
  • 1 medium red pepper, chopped
  • 2 cups quinoa, rinsed thoroughly in a fine sieve
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

All you do:

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet, on medium-high heat. Add onion; cook until soft, 3 minutes.
  2. Add garlic, carrots and red pepper, cooking until soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add quinoa and broth. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low.
  4. Simmer, covered, 20 minutes or until water is absorbed.
  5. Stir in peas, salt and black pepper to taste.

Source: Suite 101.com

Mixed Greens
Use a combination of any of the following bitter and mild greens. Serve Triple Berry Salmon on top of greens or as desired.
Torn peppery and/or bitter greens: frisee, watercress, radicchio or arugula.
Mild greens: lettuce, baby spinach or baby romaine.