In the delicate work of inserting new concepts and language in what we sometimes call brand marketing, other times change making, or just plain education; one puts out some new ideas, some hopeful points of personal observations, and then, wait and wonder what will 'stick' in the minds and hearts of your market, your colleagues, or students.
So it goes when you spend time trying very, very hard to look for solutions to problems that seem to beset the times in which we live. The problems of our times seem to push on new nerves needing new muscle sinews to respond. Sometimes the response is mere automatic reactionary. Sometimes it is more involuntary, as if unconscious until we direct our attention based on a new sense need for change.
It is fun to watch as something that gets put out by any one individual enzyme starts to be picked up in the greater body. So, I am sharing now that I am excited to see something articulated in these blog pages is just perhaps beginning to be picked up more actively in the larger body politic of our seafood sector. My excitement is tied to the fact that I fervently believe that we need new channels wherein we might begin to see glimmers of some new solution sets that we most desperately need to see.
The label and idea is of a more integrated food production system solution that I have been calling 'AqC 3.0', or Aquaculture 3.0. This look at a new model of food production scale and design is just starting to gain a place in the lexicon of the Good Food Revolution. Next week, I join with a number of others summoned to an open dialogue convened by the Clinton Global Initiative under the theme of their Action Network Meeting: "Managing Our Oceans". Many of us in the seafood sector have been concerned, puzzled, growing flat-out frantic over the lack of open dialogues regarding the need to have more active new design models of our food sector moving into domestic aquaculture.
To many consumers, the messaging received (whether intended fully or not) by the major environmental agencies for the past decade, plus was the strong message to stay away from farmed fish. I would be a multi-millionaire if I had a bill in my hand for every occasion of sitting at a restaurant to hear someone at the next table over say, "Is this listed fish farmed... How can this restaurant carry farmed fish? Haven't your read the environmental reports on those horrid operations... ?"
I note the irony that whilst this is a still pervasive notion, the reality is that well over 50% of the fish we eat in the U.S. is farmed. There is not one informed person in our sector who doesn't expect that figure to continue to grow throughout our lives. Still, our consumer market policy seems to indicate that while we are willing to eat farmed fish, we just don't want to know about it. Moreover, that we by default adopted the closed-eyes, fingers-in-ears, I can't see you or hear you stance of silly children at play; as a key part of our marketplace acts in the bliss of denial, treating most any other nation or society in our world as possessing a better handle on food security, food safety, decent labor practices, and environmental responsibility than we do in the United States of America. Here, we will buy fish from outside our borders -- upwards of 90% of all farmed fish is imported - rather than permit licensing and designed improvements to take place within our national borders and our 200 mile Economic Zone of sovereignty. Whatever the righteous justifications, professional eco-agencies might feel the facts of this matter leave us consumers with less clear choices. We are to be this default unwitting victims to decisions made by environmental scientists "in our best interest". These decisions don't support any coastal or serious set of diverse aquaculture operations, domestically. Yet, we have U.S. based consultants, academics, researchers, social entrepreneurs throughout the world creating innovative breakthroughs, ecological improvements, and good green jobs in other parts of our world, not here.
The Clinton Global Initiative staff in pre-meeting planning discussions has begun to take up the notions and language of AqC 3.0 as a new frame of reference. Perhaps, in a more open exploration of what we want to see in the future of fish offerings we will take some positive steps in the dialogues being convened next week. Shellfish farms are just beginning to demonstrate their ultimate natural capacities to clean up ecosystems and deliver delicious tastes of the sea on our plates. CGI has been the focal point for positive changes before. This could be another such moment. It never hurts to exercise our hope-filled mussels a bit more.