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Celebrating Sustainability in the Oceans and Vineyards
Episode 331st March 2022 • St. Supéry Sips • St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery
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Environmentally responsible practices are a major priority for many of today’s finest chefs, restaurateurs, wineries and consumers. This week ties in to St. Supéry’s annual “Great Sustainable Seafood Tour” program, highlighting purveyors and partners helping to return our oceans to their former glory.

This episode features a lively conversation with Emma Swain and Chef/Consultant/Speaker Jennifer Bushman. A great interview on a great topic!

More at stsupery.com/seafood

Transcripts

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Well.

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Welcome everyone to the St.

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Supéry Sips podcast.

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I'm Emma Swain, the CEO at St.

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Supéry Estate Vineyards and Winery.

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And I am thrilled to have Jennifer Bushman with me

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here today to talk about sustainable seafood.

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I'm always learning so much from Jennifer about sustainable seafood,

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seaweed and other forms of protecting and preserving our oceans.

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And providing healthy, sustainable options on our table.

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So Jennifer is a distinguished consultant, speaker, chef

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and strategist with an expertise on all things sustainable aquaculture.

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And she has a strong relationship with the sustainable food

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community, creating relationships between the aquaculture community

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and with NGOs such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program.

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She's authored the bestselling Kitchen Coach cookbook

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series Come See Sparks Fly and Sea Change cookbooks.

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Jennifer, thank you so much for joining us today.

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It is always a pleasure to have you with us.

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And I have to say I love following you on Twitter

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because I just get a little snippet or something new every day

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that I learn thanks to you.

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Well, it is.

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And and to have your commitment and St.

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Supéry's commitment to this important topic, especially

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as we align where Meroir meets terroir as we've talked about.

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I think it's just such an honor.

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So thank you for having me. Well, thanks so much.

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So let's let's talk a little bit about how you got involved

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in sustainable seafood and aquaculture.

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I mean, like all of our careers, it's a winding road.

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But I was on a cookbook tour and I got a call from my agent

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and they said,

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we are going to bring to market the most sustainable salmon in the world.

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And we think that this is

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going to change the narrative around how people think about farmed fish.

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And this was 15 years ago, actually, probably more than that now.

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And that's really where it all kicked off.

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I said, I found the fish that I loved.

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I, I have fallen in love with two fishes in my life.

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One was the trout that my grandfather used to catch on a creek off of his ranch

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in Colorado.

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And the second one was that salmon that really taught me

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what the future of food could look like around farmed fish.

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Well, farmed fish

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is a wonderful topic to talk about because 15 years ago

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there was a very different perception of farmed fish.

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It was not considered to be a great option for the environment

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or to be as healthy as we know it is today.

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Do you want to talk a little bit about that myth?

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You know, it's very interesting.

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Almost, we should lift it up for just a second to give people some context.

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I mean, what we're really talking about is our blue foods,

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all of the different foods that come from fresh waterways and ocean marine

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based waterways that are contributing to our food system.

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And, you know, in a food system that's stressed

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and has become much more depleted, than we'd like to admit,

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the oceans are fished to capacity either

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90% to or over capacity.

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We're really in in a in a jam regarding our fish and seafood.

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And there are island nations and other places that really rely on

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wild stocks.

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And I'm not really sure when we think about 3 billion people on the planet

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relying on some sort of blue food as their only source of food.

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How we got to a point where we have this

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consumptive entitlement with ocean resources.

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So if you think about it, we farm everything else at scale

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in our food system.

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For better or for worse, we farm our lettuce greens.

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We farm our grapes for wine, we farm everything.

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But for some reason, people will go into a restaurant,

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they'll sit down and they will look at the fish and seafood.

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And if they're making that choice, they'll ask, is it farmed or is it wild?

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And we've been farming fish for thousands of years.

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There are responsible ways to farmed fish, just like you can

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farm chicken well and you can farm chicken badly.

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And I think that's the exciting thing.

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We're already eating more farmed fish in the United States than we eat wild.

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But there's a responsible, ethical way to source that.

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And that really deserves a seat at the future of food's table.

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Absolutely, that's a very good point.

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Thank you for providing the scope of what we're dealing with as well.

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I do think that one of the things for me about

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making that decision in the restaurant and it is also having

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some education from your server, where is this seafood farmed?

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How is it farmed and providing that information

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and the resources to the individual for that?

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I think the more that our consumer knows,

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the more they're going to embrace the seafood program.

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And that's why I love the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch guide, especially being able

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to have that as an app and to share that with your customers.

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I think it's interesting, the wine industry has really taught us

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so much about how to speak about provenance,

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and that is what we would encourage everyone to do.

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Train your back of the house staff,

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train your front of the house staff on where your fish and seafood comes from.

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You know, those boxes come in, they're well-marked.

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You'll know the country, the species, the more engaged you get with it

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and can share that with the guest.

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The more they're interested it involved.

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So I look at it as something that really is in parallel.

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There are great examples

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from the wine industry about how we can increase sustainable,

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responsible consumption of of fish and seafood, add more on to our menus.

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And yet at the same time, be

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educating the guests without without them feeling like they're being educated.

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Yeah.

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And I also think we know an important factor around

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that is tracing about seafood.

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So many of the most reputable farms provide you

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the ability to trace that fish all the way back.

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And I think that's an important factor in authenticity.

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Just like we do with wine, we're providing the ability to trace each bottle

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back to the winery and ensure it's authentic.

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Why not do that with our seafood?

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It's a it's a it is a complicated business, right?

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I mean, it there, if you think about it, you know, there might at any given time

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be 40 or 50 different types of fish and seafood to choose from, from a purveyor.

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And it's not as easy as saying, I'm going to I'm going to support

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Petaluma Farms, natural chicken or or grass

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fed beef, those those supply chains are very clear.

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But but there are things that everyone can do, whether it's a wild capture fishery.

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If you're someone that wants to put on the menu a yellowfin tuna.

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Tuna seems to be that one that stands out.

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What are the options that we can do to give that fishery a break?

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Maybe we don't need to rely on one particular species,

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but we can give the mouthfeel and the taste to the guests

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that will give them that same satisfaction.

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But educate them maybe about a different species.

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And and for example, we have this phenomenal farm

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that's off the coast of Hawaii called Blue Ocean Mariulture.

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They farm a stunning kanpachi.

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And that kanpachi is so good in things

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like ceviches and pokes and things like that.

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So making that little shift and then being able to say to the guests,

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you know, we just felt like at this time that yellowfin tuna fishery off

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the coast of Indonesia needs a break and everyone has to start somewhere.

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It's like people I get questions all the time about bluefin tuna.

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And, you know, we're talking about, Emma, we're talking about wild capture

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fisheries with species that we don't farm traditionally.

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And, you know, those bluefin tuna, they just need a break.

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They're a keystone species.

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We need them to stay in the water longer.

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They don't reproduce until they're 12 years old.

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We're capturing them too early, too young and the stocks are reflecting that.

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So why not put have something as an alternative

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so that you have an up to opportunity to educate the guests

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and I find most of the time when you give that reasoning, you know,

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we wanted to leave more fish in that fishery

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for the local people of Indonesia because that's their only source of food

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And we'll find another thing to eat on our menus.

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Most people are pretty compassionate about that.

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When you tell the human story behind why their favorite calamari isn't on the menu.

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Absolutely.

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That's that's a great point.

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And, you know, one of the other things that you mentioned earlier was how we

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we all seem to be so tuned in to how we farm on land and doing

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it sustainably and holding everyone accountable.

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But we don't do that in the ocean.

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We aren't paying attention and I wonder if it's just because

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we're not seeing below the ocean, we see the blue water on top

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that we're not seeing what's happening beneath the waves.

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I think that's probably if you speaking to Julie Packard, of course,

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her parents helped fund the Monterey Bay Aquarium where Seafood Watch is based.

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They would all say yes.

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I mean, if you're in the middle of the country,

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you probably don't feel like you have that relationship with the ocean.

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And it feels very distant from you.

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But the good news is a lot of the conversations that are happening

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right now about how important our oceans are in carbon sequestration,

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in climate change, in weather patterns, people are beginning to become more aware.

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So it's not just related to your fish and seafood choice,

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but that choice you make on the plate is this great starting point

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to being able to become contributors,

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meaning that you're really taking your dollars and putting them towards

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something that is a contribution to the things you care about.

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And you might

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it might be supporting a phenomenal winery that's doing the right work on land.

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It might be supporting the right

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water farmer who's doing the right work on the water, eat oysters.

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You know, you and I, what a perfect pairing to be able to have your Sauvignon

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Blanc with oysters and oysters filter water.

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Not only are they the majority of them farm,

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but they filter 52% of the water that goes through them.

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So they're contributing to healthier oceans and coastal communities.

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So it's just you can you can find a way through what you eat to contribute

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when we're also worried about something that feels like impending doom.

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You know,

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I think that the other thing that we think about

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is sustainable farming on the land and in the ocean.

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But, you know, we've started talking about in the vineyard now, you know,

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organic farming and regenerative farming

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and moving to a regenerative model.

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And I think that's really happening in the ocean as well.

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When we look at seafood farming, where we're taking villages

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that have been overfished, there is not work for the community.

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And we're bringing in a sustainable fishery

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to farm the fish and we're bringing kelp farming and forests.

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And we're actually restoring the oceans.

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We're restoring with our oyster farming, our mussel farming,

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and we're providing that regenerative aquaculture

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in the same passion that we're looking to achieve here

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and our in our vineyards is that regenerative farming methodology

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And I think that particularly

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in seafood farming, it's very interesting to me and I know

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you are very involved in using seaweed in a lot of different methods.

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Do you want to talk about the seaweed farming?

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Because it's fascinating to me.

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Well, I mean, you know, it's it's an interesting thing that you talk about.

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I think, you know, sustainability sustaining ourselves is not enough.

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Right.

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I mean, we know now that we can't

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just sustain when we've taken so much away from the planet.

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So this idea of being regenerative,

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where we are working and we're contributing back is really important.

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In aquaculture.

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Those are through what we call multitropic systems

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where we might be farming a finfish, but alongside of it, we're also farming

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those bivalves like the oysters and the muscles and seaweed,

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because we know that the bivalves and the mussels,

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they and seaweed and kelp, they have zero inputs.

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You don't actually have to feed them or anything else.

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You just put those little seeds on a thread and put them in

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and they start to grow and in our ocean waters.

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So you have something that has zero inputs, but that can be enormously helpful

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both to the ecosystem because they lower nitrogen levels,

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acidification levels and the ecosystems that live in those kelp farms are helping

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to regenerate the fish populations and everything that's surrounding it.

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So you've got this incredible opportunity.

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And then not only that, but guess what else?

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Seaweed

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and kelp absorb more carbon than a tree on land.

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If you leave it in the ocean, so maybe you you grow some

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and then and you pick some to be eaten and you leave some, right.

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That give one get one kind of concept.

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But not only that seaweed and kelps are a multivitamin

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from the sea, they can be used for all kinds of things.

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We think of mushrooms adding umami, you know, all of those promises

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of what fungi can do for us is the same as seaweed and kelp.

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So for chefs out there, it could be something as easy

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as putting a in an Alaskan bowl, kelp

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pureed into your pesto or into your spaghetti sauce

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and your arrabbiata, and you'll end up with something that has more room for me.

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And the guest will never know it's there.

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But they're getting more vitamins, more minerals, more nutrients.

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And oh, by the way, you're helping create not only healthy ecosystems in the ocean,

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but probably a female farmer that is doing the hard work on the water

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because the majority of seaweed and kelp farmers are women.

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Yeah.

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You also are supporting, you know, these badass women farmers.

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I have a friend, Andrew Zimmer, and he is a very famous chef.

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He works a lot with Jose Andrés.

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He's an ambassador to the UN Food Forum.

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Millions of followers on social media and on stage at South by Southwest.

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We launched our Fed by Blue Campaign and a companion docuseries

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that we're going to do with David Kelly, another pretty famous producer,

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and he committed on stage to all of the cooking that he does.

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25% being kelp or seaweed.

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And I mean, it doesn't matter if it's brownies, it doesn't matter

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because again, there are just these incredible elements

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about mommy and chocolate and things that can come from seaweed and kelp.

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You and I talked a little bit

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about packaging there's there's opportunities and packaging.

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There's opportunities even potentially in fuel, you know, as fuel supplements.

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And then the other big one is that we're finding

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that when land animals

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eat, a certain portion of their feed is kelp and seaweed.

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It actually lowers the methane rates that they emit.

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And so that actually can is really probably

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the most important thing about seaweed we can gain.

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So much in just lowering methane mitigation to our animal rearing, that

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that that one is probably the biggest impact even compared to eating seaweed.

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Yeah, that's that's a great point.

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And, you know, I love your point about, you know, here we are growing

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mussels, oysters, kelp, farming fish, all together.

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And it just reminds me a lot about what we think

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in the vineyard as well is we want that biodiversity.

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The more we enhance that biodiversity, the less inputs we need, the less

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we are having to

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address issues because this system lives in balance.

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And that's really a lot of what's happened in the ocean

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is we've lost sections of it and then things are out of balance.

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And if we can restore that balance by planting more kelp, leaving

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some, taking some and also help with the deacidification of the ocean,

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then we can bring back locations for those fish to to live

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and restore the local populations.

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So it's really quite exciting, the similarity.

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Now, you know, one of the other things in in wine, of course,

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we talk about different varietals, cabernet sauvignon, we're low, etc.

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but we also have different clones.

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And I understand in seaweed we we have the same thing

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where they're providing different flavors, different nutrients.

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What are you seeing as the trends for fine

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dining in Unique Seafoods you know, it's, it's.

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It is interesting.

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I mean, we are starting to see some chefs explore

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some of these blue foods in a way where they haven't been used before.

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Our dinner at South by Southwest.

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What we did was we had five James Beard award winning chefs that that are renowned

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for their foods and we had them incorporate blue foods onto the menu.

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So imagine this there's a chef that was one of the top smart-cat

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chefs of the year by the James Beard Foundation that follows Seafood

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Watch to a certain extent, and it rewards chefs for engaging in their sourcing.

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Rick Lopez from La Condesa did a grilled mussel

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that had a sea lettuce their day as the sauce and the sea lettuce came

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from Mike Graham's Monterey Bay Seaweed Company.

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So extraordinary.

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Very famous - he calls him...

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he's @doughpuncher, which I love, @doughouncher, which is David Norman,

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chef David Norman from Easy Tiger Bakery, famous renowned baker

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did a dashi bread

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and a kelp butter where he folded the kelp into the butter.

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It was absolutely stunning.

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In the kelp was blue evolution's bull kelp from Alaska so extraordinary.

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We had another chef that did a

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it was so beautiful chef Tavell Bristol Joseph

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famous for his cheesecake, this Basque cheesecake.

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And he did a sea grape sauce with caramelized sea grapes on the plate.

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And these are all things you can see at @fedbyblue or at my

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Jennifer Bushman

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@Jen_bushman but the point is is that the chefs are getting

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really super creative about how to incorporate these foods.

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And it's really exciting to see and see the guests

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reaction to some of these things being folded in.

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Absolutely.

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And as a guest, I think it gives you something

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interesting a reason to go back, a reason to feel good about your meal.

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And you learn something new.

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I think so much of what guests are looking for

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today is a different and new experience, something to share with other people.

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And here is, you know, different new and delicious foods

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that are great for the environment and and being thoughtful about the environment.

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And that's super important

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to our guests today and important to have them coming back.

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Yeah, exactly.

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And I also think it's important for everyone to understand

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the power that they have in their voice, because one of the big issues

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that we're having right now in the United States is that coastal

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landowners don't want to see these farms in their backyard.

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And I'm of the feeling that, you know, 20 years from now, when they're begging

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for clean water and food, they're going to be wanting that oyster farmer there

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but in places like Washington, the state of Washington,

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927 licenses

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to farm oysters and mussels and things was denied by a judge

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because of a false narrative that an NGO got from these coastal landowners.

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So you being active in policy and advocacy to say,

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we're going to fight for these concessions,

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one of those licenses that was lost was 137 years old.

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Can you imagine?

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We lost 137 year old oyster farm off of the coast of Washington

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because of a false narrative and a judge that didn't have good information.

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So we all have to get involved. We have a role to play.

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Yeah, that sounds like we need an appeal there.

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Yeah, because, you know, we've heard a lot of false narratives lately

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and I hope that our legal system

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can can come through and win on on those things.

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And there's, you know, and that's the other thing too.

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State of California and being able to have some of these

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things that are that are actually grown off our coastlines.

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And California has some of the tightest regulations as

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Hog Island Oyster, who I think you probably know John Finger in his group

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finally after ten years just got a new oyster concession.

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So it's, you know, we're lucky they're there fighting the fight.

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But we know the power of the food and beverage community

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and we can move mountains when we want to.

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And I think that looking at these farmers and trying to help them

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to stay in business as they are contributing in such hard

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work on the water as you know, the hard work on land,

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we all have to have a voice that we have to lend to this.

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Yeah.

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And I have to say, the oyster farms really

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are not impacting your view.

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They're improving the environment.

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I have a hard time understanding how you can argue against that.

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It's not like having an oil rig in your backyard. And

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it is.

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I mean, it's an important point to make.

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In the Gulf of Mexico, there are over 600 licenses

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that have been granted to drill for oil, and yet there have only been

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a handful of licenses granted for us to farm in those waters.

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So you think about, I always think about, like what the value is, right?

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Eventually the food system will have greater value than than fossil fuels.

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But it is very interesting to look at it from a policy narrative and say, you know,

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these are things that we have to express that are important.

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There's a

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there's a law that's up right now in front of Congress called the Aqua Act.

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It talks about being able to have more aquaculture in federal waters

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we all don't think that is a bill that is where it needs to be yet.

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It doesn't have the sustainability standards that you or I expect,

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but the Environmental Defense Fund has gotten involved and they have a new bill

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they're going to bring to say, look, we think aquaculture is important.

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It's going to be important to create the

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the the food that we need in the United States

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because we have a seafood deficit right now.

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We import more than 70% of our fish and seafood.

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So we need to farm more in U.S.

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waters, but we need to do it right Absolutely.

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We definitely need to do it right.

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And I think we can we have the ability to and

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I know you work with a lot of different

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purveyors and growers and farms.

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Any particular brands

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or varieties of fish and seafood and

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blue food that you feel strongly

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about as really being some of your top choices?

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I mean, I - but first and foremost - you know, there are places you can go...

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place-based sustainability is a good thing if you know the fish

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and they're going out into the water in Monterey Bay and they're grabbing

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whatever they're

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allowable catches and you trust them, that's a good place to start.

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Ask where your fish and seafood comes from.

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It's so easy, like you said, to use the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood

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Watches website and type in the species and country of origin

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and know if we are sourcing it sustainably.

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And then there are best in class farmers that now are branded like you can walk in

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to places like Whole Foods and get Pacifico Striped Bass, which is

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a beautiful farm off of the coast of East Todos Santos in Ensenada and

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exists specifically because we love to eat striped bass

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and the stocks are depleted and they are contributing a stunning fish.

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There are farms like Kvaroy Arctic, which is a third generation family

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farmer out of the Arctic Circle that farms as beautiful salmon

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that's available on everything from Amazon

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where you can get their hot dogs made from salmon and the burgers.

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All the way to the filets, I mean, and a hot dog

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that tastes like a hot dog with your weekly allowance of Omega threes

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and is rated the top by all of the big NGOs.

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So it's just being active, you know, use use seafood

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watch because it's really our only metric right now.

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We watch for these programs like Fed

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by Blue because we're going to we're constantly in the fight

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to bring you this information and and just plain eat more blue foods

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because when you do, you're going to be supporting

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the odds are you're going

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to be supporting farmers that are really doing the right work on the water.

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Yeah.

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And you know, one of the other things we talked about how people you know,

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kind of have a misconception about the quality of farmed seafood.

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And also I think that kind of comes true

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for bivalves and how there's this belief

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that perhaps they're unsafe because they could be unsafe.

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And one of the things that I see with the reputable farmers

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who are farming and great oysters, mussels, etc.,

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you know, they're putting them through the tanks from that same water,

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but that's gone through a UV

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light and been sterilized and letting them filter everything through.

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So you're seeing a much higher quality

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of food safety occurring with a lot of the seafood

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than you would get from seafood just harvested in the wild.

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Oh, my gosh. It's such an important point.

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So for everyone out there, understand now, I mean, the oceans,

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we really have taxed our waterways to such a high level, whether it's PCBs,

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dioxins, toxins, the radiation is a bit of a misnomer.

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We don't see radiation from, you know, the issues in Japan coming into

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our seafood, not not really worldwide, but things like quiet.

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So query Arctic is an example.

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They actually have a little bit of fish trim that's in the diet.

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And they take that trim,

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which is from the cuttings that are for non-human consumption.

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So non-human consumption, when they're processing fish, they'll use

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that little bit to go in their feed, but they clean it first.

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They take out the dioxins, the PCBs, the toxins.

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No one in the world

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at this point is doing that where they're cleaning a feed component

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before they feed it to their fish and salmon are carnivorous fish.

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Your Alaskan wild salmon

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is eating all of these feeder fish that have all of these issues.

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And it's one of the reasons why the orcas I don't know

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if you've been reading about this, but the baby orca whales are dying

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because what's happening is those toxins are being passed on

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from the mother, from those feeder fish through her milk to the to the baby orcas.

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So so we're in the farming industry.

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What they're doing

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is they're figuring out better and better and cleaner ways to do it

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and whether that's farming on land in closed recirculating systems.

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David E.

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Kelly is the largest producer of trout in the world.

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Not only does he write Big Little Lies and The Undoing

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and Ally McBeal and Boston Legal but he loves salmon so much.

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And as a fisherman saw the stocks being depleted

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that he became the largest

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trout farmer in the United States with his river and trout.

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And that trout is delicious.

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And it's on land in Idaho in these race ways that are hundreds of years old.

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So it's a it's an exciting time because we get to look at really creating

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the food system that we want out of farmed fish and seafood

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and all the technology and the nutritive data.

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All of these things are being applied to that now.

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And thinking about farmed as being bad is really looking in the rearview mirror.

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Absolutely.

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Absolutely.

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Well, I, I love all of your information as always.

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You're so enlightening.

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Jennifer, what should I have asked you that I haven't asked you today?

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Oh, my goodness.

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I mean, I probably would be repeating myself.

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I think it's "learn the phrase blue food."

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This is something that there's a huge amount of effort

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with scientists worldwide, including a group called the Blue

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Food Assessment that sits at Stanford and at the University of Stockholm.

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Hundreds of scientists

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that are putting the data behind what it is and how contribute.

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It is contributing.

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It is.

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So think blue foods, it's not blueberries any longer.

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It's all of those fantastic foods that come from our waterways,

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come from fresh and our marine based waterways

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that really are one fifth the carbon footprint.

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I mean, the impact is enormously low as compared to our other foods plant based

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and and plant based and cell based foods will not get us all the way there.

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Our oceans and waterways will be contributing blue foods.

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And it really is a place, as I say, where there's hope and hope is in the water.

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Yes, absolutely.

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That's a great point.

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And thank you so much for all of your insights today.

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And we'll be looking for the blue food that is restoring our oceans, that's

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providing restoration and also fantastic,

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wonderful, delicious things on our plate.

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So thank you for joining us, Jennifer.

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It's a pleasure to be with you.

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It's always such a pleasure to be here.

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And I can't wait

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till we can sit and enjoy those dinners together with some good wine.

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