Slow Fish in Action
Students host a Slow Fish Workshop at the University of Rhode Island
On Thursday, April 23rd, 2015, a group of twenty undergraduate students will host a sustainable seafood workshop at the University of Rhode Island. Students aim to increase their community's appetite for locally-abundant, underutilized and invasive species of seafood. The event is open for public viewing and is set to take place from 4:00 to 6:00 pm in Ranger Hall (Rm 107).
Students will gain hands-on experience filleting whole fish and using leftover heads and bones to make culinary stocks to incorporate into various dishes.
This Slow Fish Workshop - organized by students from Slow Food URI - functions to bridge the gap between young adults and their local fishing community. Up until now, Slow Food URI has been involved mainly in terrestrial food system planning - coordinating a farmers' market on campus, among other projects.
"It's my hope that this workshop will spark interest in getting RI-caught seafood into our dining halls at URI" says Kayleigh Hill, Nutrition major and student organizer for the event. "Fishermen could really benefit from new local markets for various bycatch species"
With two final semesters ahead of her at URI, Hill is dedicating her Honors Project to building new models that can support local producers and shift purchasing on campus.
Hill was inspired by a study abroad trip to Naples, Italy where she spent a day catching and cooking fish with a local fisherman. She was joined by her professor, Rosaria Pisa, who is helping students plan recipes for the upcoming Slow Fish Workshop at URI.
Students are working with Sarah Schumann, a RI commercial shellfishermen, to source invasive green crabs for the event - just one of the many unique species to be showcased. Schumann is also the President of Eating with the Ecosystem, a local nonprofit whose mission is to bring about a place-based approach to sustainable seafood.
"The diversity of species in the ocean is abbreviated into a short list of items that the American consumer considers to be their seafood choices" explains Schumann, who commends the students for actively expanding their palates. "Selective choice may be the wrong value to emphasize if we want to achieve the resilience of our marine ecosystems and the permanence of our fishing industry."
Schumann continues, "A fishermen's economic success depends on the area of overlap between what the sea supplies and what the market demands - and there's always some degree of mismatch between those two things."
Students are also getting help from Tom LaFazia of Narragansett Bay Lobster, located in Point Judith, RI. LaFazia is working with local fishermen to donate other lesser-known, under-marketed species to the Slow Fish Workshop at URI.
"At this point in the season, students could expect to get their hands on some scup, skate, mackerel, silver hake, and monkfish." LaFazia explains, "We'll see other underutilized species such as dogfish and sea robins later in the season."
In the past two years, similar workshops have been organized by students at the University of New Hampshire and Northeastern University in Boston. At UNH, student, Spencer Montgomery, organized a Slow Fish Workshop that later served as leverage for Slow Food UNH to shift dining hall purchasing on his campus.
"We invited everyone to the table" explains Montgomery, "Following a series of meetings between UNH Dining Services, students, chefs, local fishermen and seafood processors, we were able to get 2,000 pounds of local seafood into our dining hall within one semester!"
Montgomery, now a part-time fisherman himself, works to engage youth in fisheries across New England through the Slow Fish campaign.
"I'm very interested to see how the Slow Fish program plays out at the University of Rhode Island" says Jennifer McCann from RI Sea Grant "This may inspire other organizations to look towards food policy agenda that could help support our local fleet."