Over the next two weeks, Uproxx will explore sustainable food sourcing with the release of two Uproxx Reports mini docs, profiling Dock to Dish and the local fishermen trying to change how you eat seafood.
Do you remember the classic “Is the Chicken Local?” sketch from Portlandia? The one where Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein ask a series of increasingly ludicrous questions about the lifestyle of the chicken they’re planning to eat. It’s clever, and ridiculous, and — for anyone who knows the world of food sourcing — rings true. Small-time farmers, ranchers, and fruit growers got a huge clout boost when the “eat local” movement went mainstream. You may not know the names of the animals you eat, but outfits like Cook Pigs come pretty damn close — sharing photos of the ranchers, the living pigs, and the actual cuts of meat side-by-side on social media. The fact that restaurants routinely shout out their purveyors on the menu tightens this link and allows conscious diners to eat without any factory-farming guilt.
For a long time, fish have been absent from these sourcing conversations. We accept — or fail to notice — that the sushi we gorge ourselves on has been flown in from across the world. We pay little attention to concerns about overfishing, even as bluefin tuna threaten to go the way of the buffalo. It’s all just a little too complicated and hard to wrap our heads around, and having to visit the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch List or NOAA every time you want to bite into a crab cake is asking a lot.
That’s the problem Dock to Dish is trying to solve. They want their fishermen to be as well known as famous cattlemen, like Niman Ranch. They want to give you peace of mind that the fish you’re eating is local, sustainable, and humanely caught. Basically, the next time you’re ordering fish, Dock to Dish hopes that their name will allow you to rest easy.
“If you think about it, it’s just a revitalization of what we used to do,” explains Sarah Rathbone, co-founder of Dock to Dish LA. “Everyone’s touting us as a revolutionary concept and we look at them like they’re crazy, because it’s exactly how food sourcing was done before the industrialized seafood system came into being.”