Seafood, particularly oysters, is the heart and soul of Feast Raw Bar and Bistro, featured in many of our menu options. With this passion for seafood cuisine comes a deep passion and respect for sustainable seafood, a subject not talked about much in Montana—we’re in the mountains, after all! But it’s a topic that needs and deserves regular conversation, especially in the restaurant industry. How we source, deliver, and prepare food is a steady journey with lasting impacts on not just our customers but our purveyors, economy, and, most importantly, our environment. So, let’s dive into the depths of sustainable seafood, what it is, why it’s important, and how we embrace sustainability at Feast.
What is Sustainable Seafood?
There are a variety of definitions for sustainable seafood, ranging from organization to organization. We selected the Marine Stewardship Council’s definition. The MSC is a global nonprofit organization that aims to end worldwide overfishing. They developed the MSC blue fish label, which helps consumers identify and choose certified sustainable, wild-caught seafood. The MSC defines sustainable seafood that is fished in the following ways:
- From sustainable fish stocks. There are enough fish left in the sea to reproduce indefinitely.
- With minimal environmental impact. Fishing operations must maintain structure, productivity, function, and diversity of the marine ecosystem.
- By a fishery with effective management in place. Fisheries must comply with relevant laws and have a management system that allows it to respond quickly to changes in the status quo.”
The sustainable seafood movement is relatively new, as it first gained momentum in the 1990’s. During this time, social consciousness grew around the importance of protecting wild food sources, jobs that give back to the environment and its people, and marine ecosystems.
One of the largest driving factors behind the sustainable seafood movement is overfishing. This happens when the fishing rate exceeds the rate that fish can reproduce and repopulate at a healthy rate. A global problem, overfishing can cause fish populations to decline and destroy marine ecosystems. As the demand for seafood continues to grow, unsustainable and dangerous fishing practices can not only harm the ecosystem but people who work in and are impacted by the fishing industry. Those who make a living fishing can be devastated by the impact of overfishing, leaving thousands without jobs and livelihoods.
Why is Sustainable Seafood Important?
Especially in the restaurant industry, how we source our food sets a standard for quality, ethics, and responsibility. While you may just see a plate of oysters, we see the result of careful consideration for the Earth and its people.
On an environmental level, sourcing seafood sustainably helps preserve the ecosystem and minimize our footprint on habitat and wildlife. Fish play a larger role in our planet than just being plated beautifully at a fine dining restaurant. They contribute to the larger dynamics of aquatic ecosystems, such as eating algae that keep coral reefs healthy. Also, when one fish species is no longer plentiful, it impacts the rest of the food chain, both predators and prey. When one fish species has been overfished, fishermen often “fish down the food web” and fish smaller species that are important sources of food for other animals. Sustainable sourcing of seafood helps prevent this and promotes better fishing and conservation practices for the future. In terms of social responsibility, sustainable sourcing promotes the success of ethical seafood retailers, suppliers, and producers so they can continue their good works and provide a living for their employees.
In the culinary world, sustainably sourced seafood is often healthier, fresher, and higher in quality, which means more delectable, nutritious dishes. Being committed to great food, we only want to serve top-notch ingredients to our customers, so we know that sustainable seafood is the best and only way forward.
The Feast Approach to Sustainable Seafood
We hope to be a model of sustainability for Bozeman seafood restaurants. At Feast, we not only work with local producers as much as possible for our meat, grains, and vegetables, but we source our seafood sustainably, too. Our seafood comes from fishermen in Hawaii and Alaska who harvest using sustainable methods. We also source our shellfish from sustainably-minded farmers on both the East and West coasts, supporting the coastal economies on either side of the country.
Many people often wonder how we get fresh, sustainably-sourced oysters in Montana, a place without an ocean in sight. The main benefit to serving oysters in a landlocked state is that the oysters are alive when we receive them, and, therefore they are very fresh. With overnight delivery, we can serve oysters that were sustainably harvested at the same time as shellfish being served at restaurants on the coast.
If you’re ready to enjoy some fresh seafood Bozeman-style, make a reservation at Feast Raw Bar & Bistro for dinner tonight! You can quickly reserve your table online or give us a call at (406) 577-2377.