Good news today on several fronts connecting how we produce, sell and package the food we eat with the health of the oceans.
First comes a new survey of 1,600 chefs by the National Restaurant Association of the Top 20 "hot" culinary trends of the past year. No. 1 on the list is locally grown produce (lower carbon footprint, support local farmers), and No. 3 is organically grown produce (fewer chemicals flowing downstream to the ocean).
Sustainable seafood is No. 10, with non-traditional seafood items -- including several sustainable farmed species like Arctic chart and barramundi No. 13 on the list. Organic wine comes in at No. 18. Most of the other top trends relate to healthier eating (fruit as a side-dish with kids' meals, smaller portions) or other eco-friendly approaches (free-range meats).
Then, on Monday, Greenpeace updated its ranking of how major supermarket chains fare when it comes to offering eco-friendly seafood choices. There's some improvement since the initial rankings were issued earlier this year. The top 5 on the list of 20 markets it ranked: Whole Foods Market, Ahold USA (Stop & Shop, Giant), Target, Harris Teeter and Wal-Mart. The bottom five (listed worst to best) were Price Chopper, H.E. Butt (H.E.B, Central Market), Meijer, Trader Joe's and coming in dead last, Supervalu (Acme, Albertson's, Bristol Farms, Jewel-Osco, Shaw's).
Consumer guides like our Seafood Watch pocket guides are a great tool to use if you're not sure whether something on your supermarket shelves was caught or farmed sustainably. Using a Seafood Watch guide is also a great way to let your store know that its choice about what to put on sale matters to you.
Finally, in local news from Monterey, the city Planning Commission voted unanimously on Tuesday to support an ordinance requiring take-out restaurants to offer only environmentally friendly food packaging -- meaning no Styrofoam take-out containers. The measure now goes to the City Council for consideration. Monterey Bay Aquarium spoke out in support of the ordinance. Similar rules are being enacted by local governments across the United States -- with the support of citizen activists (hint-hint).