To hear Dory Ford describe his childhood on Vancouver Island ― catching wild salmon in the Campbell River, foraging for chanterelles, picking huckleberries for pie, kicking up oysters at low tide and roasting them on a campfire ― it's hard to imagine an upbringing more suitable for his current occupation.
As executive chef at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Ford makes great-tasting food that also happens to be environmentally sustainable. Working with the aquarium's Seafood Watch program and the fishermen and farmers who supply his kitchen, Ford keeps his cooking close to West Coast sources, his eye on the ocean, and his menus grounded in the seasons.
At a recent party in Carmel, California, for his colleagues, Ford created a dinner that included oysters hand-raised in the pristine waters of Hog Island, 165 miles to the north, as well as wild Pacific halibut and wild Alaska salmon, both from fisheries that are managed well.
"Everything on this menu is food I grew up with," he says. "Salmon in season, oysters ... What we call 'sustainable seafood' is just how we ate. It's about being conscious of where your food comes from."
Sustainable seafood simply defined
Basically, sustainable seafood is any fish or shellfish caught or harvested in a way that doesn't harm the survival of its species or the health of its ecosystem (some definitions also factor in data on mercury and/or PCB levels). Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch prints a wallet-size guide that ranks different seafoods according to their sustainability (the guide is updated frequently; visit www.seafoodwatch.org for the latest version). The program's mission: to help consumers use their buying power to preserve the life of the oceans.
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