There’s nothing quite like feasting on fresh seafood: delicate but distinctive, flavorful but light, healthy, a celebratory food whether you’re grilling on the back deck or dining in an upscale restaurant. As any true fish fan knows, fresh is the only way to go.
Yet commercial seafood production—the primary source of protein for about three billion people—is environmentally disastrous. Ocean ecosystems are being ravaged as many species are being overfished, especially longtime favorites like shrimp and salmon. Seafood lovers who want to avoid being part of the problem can get hard data at Seafood Watch, a public education project of the Monterey Bay Aquarium that tracks fishery issues and promotes habitat preservation.
What Seafood Watch (and oceanographers, chefs, and conscientious eaters) are advocating for is sustainable aquaculture—responsibly managed domestic production of seafood. Fish have been farmed for centuries, but there are healthy and unhealthy ways of going about it. To save the seas, sustainable aquaculture needs to be the path forward
- New York Steelhead Poke Bowl at 273kitchen
For all the Hudson Valley’s legacy of food production, fish and shellfish have not been a historic product of our inland paradise. But in a new wave of entrepreneurship and innovation, two Hudson Valley businesses are championing sustainable seafood farming, expanding the region’s bountiful offerings.
Indoor recirculating aquaculture systems resolve the heavy resource draw and sustainability issues associated with other kinds of fish farming, leaving only the tasty harvest. Whether you’re looking to saute, grill, or bake at home, or find a restaurant whose seafood dishes you’ll love, these two ethical seafood sources in the Hudson Valley provide the real thing, and shopping with them supports the research that will fix the problem and feed the planet.
Hudson Valley Fish Farm
Hudson Valley Fish Farm produces hormone, antibiotic, and vaccine-free New York steelhead trout at its cutting-edge, biosecure Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS) in Hudson. It is the largest RAS in North America, delivering the harvest to markets and restaurants all over the Northeast. Called “home-cook-friendly” by Bon Appetit, this fish species is originally native to the Pacific Northwest. It’s rich in lean protein and healthy Omega-3s and can be baked, broiled, roasted, seared, stuffed, pickled, or smoked just like salmon, which it resembles. It’s actually a giant rainbow trout, and many chefs find it superior to salmon.
HVFF is the vision of New Jersey resident John Ng, whose passion for sustainability and food security finds expression in the “egg-to-plate” purity of the product, the negligible carbon footprint, solid waste upcycling plan. HVFF is also collaborating with the Culinary Institute of America, SUNY at Cobleskill, and other area colleges to educate, enlighten and employ the next generation of aquaculturists and foodies. To sample the results, visit any of the Culinary Institute restaurants in Hyde Park, 8 North Broadway in Nyack or 273 Kitchen in Harrison.
ECO Shrimp Garden in Newburgh employs a salt-water Indoor Zero Water Exchange aquaculture system to raising of exquisitely fresh shrimp as long as your hand. Founder Jean Claude Frajmund had been dreaming of eco-friendly shrimping for 35 years and is now actually doing it in a former mattress factory on South William Street in Newburgh. The goal is disrupting the massive and ecologically disastrous imported shrimp industry, and Fraimund is hard at work creating an open-source model that can be implemented worldwide.
And there’s just no comparison between a crisp, juicy, hormone-antibiotic-and-chemical-free Pacific White shrimp from ECO Shrimp and a long-deceased, faded frozen shrimp from overseas that you find at the seafood counter in the grocery store. You can purchase directly from the ECO Shrimp Garden on Wednesdays and Fridays, 10am to 4pm, and you’ll find their product on the menu at some of the Hudson Valley’s finest restaurants and at Union Square Greenmarket in Manhattan.