Monday, September 12, 2011

Serve & Protect: A New Way to be a Locavore

A New Way to be a Locavore - by Ashford Rosenberg, Tennessee Aquarium sustainability coordinator

The “locavore” movement started in 2005, but the concept of eating local is nothing new. In the past, people either had to grow their own food, or buy it from a local farmer. Globalization made once exotic foods more readily available. Now, with concerns of green house gas emissions resulting from shipping food, many people are again sourcing from local farmers.

There are several farms within 100 miles of Chattanooga, and many of them are present in area farmers’ markets. Anyone who has been to the Chattanooga Market on a Sunday, or the Main Street Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays, is familiar with the variety of produce available from different farms. But did you know there is a way to source seafood locally?

Rainbow trout, while technically a freshwater fish, are a healthy source of seafood. They are similar in taste and health benefits to salmon, and the farming methods of trout have less environmental impacts. Salmon are often farmed in open net pens, which are contained areas that float in a body of water. The waste and excess food from the pen is washed directly into the environment, degrading water quality and transferring parasites and disease to wild fish. There is also a concern about escapees from the farm breeding with wild fish. Trout, on the other hand, are farmed inland in closed systems. These closed systems alleviate the fear of disease, parasites, and escaped fish affecting the wild populations.

Now for the best part. Trout is local! Not only is there a rainbow trout farm in the next county (Pickett Trout Ranch in Dunlap, TN), but many streams in the area are stocked with rainbow trout for anglers. Check TWRA regulations to find the trout stream closest to you. Brown trout and the native Brook trout also inhabit Tennessee streams. (All three species can be seen in the Tennessee Aquarium's Cove Forest exhibit.) Catching your own fish for dinner is the most sustainable eating habit, with sourcing from local farms not far behind.

Many restaurants in the Chattanooga area serve trout. Look for it on the menu, and enjoy a delicious, healthy, and sustainable dinner. Or, try Alton Brown's Serve & Protect Pecan Crusted Trout recipe. Bon Appétit!

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