Fish on plate

How do we keep fish on our menus?

posted by Veronique Koch on 17 October 2013

This is the question that chef Dan Barber asked in this 2010 TED talk. The video is old but it’s been making the rounds again in the Twittersphere and we think it still rings true today. When Barber was a chef in New York, he thought he was doing the right thing by serving a farmed fish raised so far out to sea that its waste would be “diluted”. Ah yes, we know this story. The solution to pollution is dilution. He was also told that this fish was served “sustainable proteins” (read: chicken). With a feed conversion ratio of 2.5, this fish was not an aquacultural nightmare (like tuna that have an FCR of 20) but it didn’t sit right. Luckily Chef Barber saw the red flags and dumped this fish (which he never names, by the way). He found an amazing, sustainably farmed fish that ate algae and phytoplankton in a self-renewing ecosystem (again, he never names it). And it tasted great, too.


What a dream this sounds to us. Imagine a fish farm that doesn’t need to feed its animals because the farm is so good to its environment that the environment takes care of itself. Barber points out that we need to change our way of thinking if we want to feed the world. The only way to do that, he says, is to stop focusing on ourselves and to start a more sustainable model like that. Rather than depleting resources, we make them self-renewing.


Kind of like an aquaponics system, for the planet.


The only issue we have with Chef Barber’s fish discovery is that it is raised in Spain, so its carbon footprint is a little high. Can we replicate this model locally? We’d love to see someone try. We think that sustainable aquaculture is the only way to keep fish on our menus and on our plates.


a featured fish on Fish Meat

Carp raised sustainably in Turkey, as featured in the movie Fish Meat.


Bravo, Chef Barber. It’s no wonder he received the James Beard award for America’s Outstanding Chef in 2009, and was named one of the world’s most influential people in Time’s annual “Time 100” list.


Now, please, someone tell us the names of the fish he is talking about?



Image from Wiki commons.

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