DOWNTOWN Something fishy is going on at the Main Library’s Martin Luther King Jr. Auditorium and it’s due to the Santa Monica Farmers’ Markets.
Specifically, the market is bringing four local advocates for sustainable seafood to the Library as part of their quarterly public education forums, held on the first Thursdays of February, May, August and November. The Aug. 7 event will be held from 7 – 8:30 p.m. and will provide information about the status of local fisheries, how to purchase sustainable products and why it’s important to buy local seafood. .
“We choose topics that are pertinent to the Farmers Market and issues that affect the Farmers,” she said.
The market has addressed more traditional topics like home gardening or food production but Farmers Market Coordinator II Jodi Low said said the focus on sustainable seafood is an extension of the Market’s ongoing efforts to provide knowledge alongside produce.
She said each of the speakers has an expertise that will add to the conversation.
“Community Seafood is sort of a new way of getting seafood directly from the sea to the customer,” she said of the business that sells at the Sunday Farmers Market. “It brings products direct without the middle man. It’s a community supported fishery similar to community supported agriculture. They work with over 20 fishermen and all their fish is caught or raised in California. They have a featured fish or two of the week, it’s always fresh, never frozen and theirs is a subscription base but they also sell half pounds and pounds when they have extra.”
Magna Sundstrom of Community Seafood said she hoped the discussion would appeal to all kinds of residents, regardless of their current knowledge of fishing as the market has a role to play in providing ongoing consumer education.
“Awareness is a huge part and one of the great things about Farmers Markets,” she said. “Years ago they were niche but they’ve become much bigger but you still have consumers that go to the market for veggies and to the grocery store for everything else. It’s important to highlight these types of events to show that the market covers all different areas and it’s a great way for people to shop for all of their food.”
Low said the market often answers specific questions during the actual markets but the quarterly talks provide an opportunity to go into more detail on topics that are of interest to customers.
She said Ben Hyman, a local fisherman who sells at the Virgnia Ave. market under the Wile Local Seafood banner, will be able to bring first person perspective and knowledge to the discussion.
“I’ll be talking about the local, seasonal fish that my business sells and catches,” said Hyman. “I’ll juxtapose that with the status quo in America, where we import a mass percentage of our fish then export a large amount of our fish at the same time with little regard to sustainability.”
He said customers should realize the same arguments for buying local vegetables apply to any food source including seafood. He said locally caught items come with the knowledge of the fisherman who caught them.
“Being an actual fisherman, I’m in touch with it, I can tell you how it’s caught, when it was caught, why you should but it and at the same time, you’re going to be more connected to it because it uses less petroleum by not coming on a transport ship, truck or through any of those layers.”
He strongly promotes the use and consumption of sustainable products and said customers can have a huge impact on the industry if they focus their purchasing power on those retailers that only handle sustainable products.
Also present on the panel will be Chef Michael Cimarusti (Providence, Connie and Ted’s) and Nick Fash from the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium.
Visit http://www.smgov.net/portals/farmersmarket for more information about the talk and upcoming events at the Farmers Market.