This summer is definitely a summer to remember. A while back, I was lucky enough to have been chosen to travel and learn in one of the most prominent programs in the seafood industry, the Future Leaders of the National Fisheries Institute. Every summer, the National Fisheries Institute chooses a group of members to join in the future leaders program and travel the US to study and learn all aspects of the seafood industry. This summer, we had traveled to Washington, DC., St. Simo- Georgia, Jacksonville- Florida, and this past week, Seattle, Washington. The trip and programs main purpose is to show us the depth and breadth of the seafood industry. I am just over half way done with the program, and I can truly say this has been and will always be one of the greatest learning experiences of my lifetime.
This past week in Seattle, we visited a couple warehouses, a sensory lab and went through a survival at sea training. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention the famed, Pike’s Place Market.
In our plant visit, we went to a sockeye salmon processing plant where they portion and vacuum pac product fresh to frozen. We also visited a Surimi plant where they produce a variety of imitation crab lines, including our great sea-sational immitation crab which you can find in many retail stores in the area.
The Pike’s Place Market is a great experience for one who loves public markets and a great grab and go lunch or dinner. Just as described, the men were wearing rubber overalls, throwing the beloved whole sockeye salmon and singing songs while they work! At the other market counters, vendors were sampling out fresh, hot smoked salmon, scallops, and mussels. I stumbled upon and fell in love that day in the market… Yes, I fell in love with the dungeonus crab that was already picked and ready to eat. Anyone who has tried this crab will agree that it is the fillet of crabs.
Attending a day at the market will make you ask more questions… How did they get the product, where was it caught, and how in the world do I cook this? Have you ever wondered how the fishermen go about catching our sustainable seafood up in the Bering Sea or the Pacific? It is fun buying and creating seafood dish into something unique but there is a huge story behind that salmon fillet you often purchase, or the Dungenous crab meat that you conveniently grab at the market. There are men and women everyday facing the waves, the weather and the struggles at sea while trying to fill the catch quota.
This is truly something that I think about all the time, and finally I was able to experience just a touch of what our fishermen go through. We did a simulation of survival at sea for what these deckhands risk everyday out there. We learned how to get in the gumby suits, how to deploy a life raft, how to swim and link with fellow survivors and how to use of specific sea equipment for a variety of situations. This was a spark of energy for everyone in the crew and made us that much more grateful for the people who catch and face the elements to keep this industry running!
All in all, if you go to Seattle sometime soon- I recommend going to the market, visiting the Salmon Ladder in Ballard, and obviously eating a ton of fresh Seafood-Oysters, WILD Salmon with any and all meals, and of course the dungeonus crabs.