PALO ALTO, CA (September 21, 2011)—Bon Appétit Management Company is extending its sustainable sourcing sensibilities to a new Fish to Fork seafood sourcing program that offers guidelines for supporting local, small-scale, environmentally responsible fishing and aquaculture. The program outlines what “local” and “small-scale” mean for both wild and farmed seafood and elevates certain overlooked species that have both great flavor and robust supplies. The company has long been a leader in this area — starting with a commitment in 2002 to serve only seafood that meets Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch guidelines. It plans to roll out the new purchasing guidelines companywide for its 400 cafes in 31 states.
In developing the program Bon Appétit worked with a marine science expert to define what constitutes truly local fish and to identify certain underutilized species such as amberjack, a delicacy in Florida that’s often discarded as bycatch, or blue catfish, an invasive species clogging Maryland waters.
The Fish to Fork program prioritizes fishing and aquaculture practices that are small-scale, biodiverse and energy conscious, and that offer great flavor. Among the guidelines:
· Traceability. Seafood suppliers must present a reliable system of traceability from the farm or the boat to Bon Appétit kitchens.
· Size. Boats must be individually owned and operated, and not process the seafood on board. Aquaculture operations will be limited to those grossing less than $5 million per year per species. Small-scale fishing and aquaculture operations that practice integrated multi-species fishing or aquaculture will be emphasized.
· Distance. Boats should travel no more than 100 miles out to sea per trip. Distribution distance for wild fish or aquacultured products is limited to 500 miles by truck from dock or farm to Bon Appétit kitchens.
· Species preferences. Low-on-the-food-chain species (such as sardines, oysters); species whose edible portion could be better utilized (such as scallops, much of which gets discarded by U.S. processors); less-widely eaten larger species (Seafood Watch “green”- or “yellow”-rated) that can substitute for one of the “Top Ten” species, such as tuna, whose popularity is endangering the species.
Bon Appétit is also designating 14 of its chefs in different areas of the country as “piscators.” Like the company’s Farm to Fork foragers, their role is to locate and develop purchasing relationships with local fishers and fish farmers who meet the criteria and who will then serve clusters of cafes. Similarly, Fish to Fork will also channel Bon Appétit Management Company’s supply-chain clout toward helping hundreds more small, environmentally responsible producers, creating local jobs and healthier communities.