If you’re a Connecticut shellfish farmer, your ears might perk up a bit when you hear the term HABs – harmful algal blooms. But thanks to the well-coordinated early warning system in place to catch an outbreak, people can eat clams and oysters from Long Island Sound with confidence.
With national data showing Americans have been eating more fish and shellfish during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new report on a survey of Connecticut residents’ seafood consumption habits and preferences offers timely information seafood dealers can use to help make the increase permanent.
A newly-formed coalition of U.S. seafood industry organizations is launching a 12-week consumer marketing campaign to encourage Americans to eat more seafood during the coronavirus crisis.
Sales revenue for Connecticut aquaculture producers fell an average of 93 percent in February and March compared to the same period in 2019, and 70 percent of the workforce employed in shellfish, seaweed and finfish farming operations have been laid off due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While nearly half of Connecticut aquaculture businesses have already completed a survey released on March 23, Connecticut Sea Grant and the state Department of Agriculture on March 24 urged those who had not yet responded to do so as soon as possible.
If you’re an average Connecticut resident, you probably didn’t eat seafood more than once in the last week. But you might, if you knew more about how to prepare different types of fish, shellfish and seaweed, and where to buy local seafood.
“The Milford lab,” as it is known in the shellfish industry, is a main supplier of algae to shellfish farmers along the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf coasts – and even worldwide. NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center has supplied algae free of charge to shellfish farms for more than five decades, drawing from collection of 230 strains, among them those that are most important for young oysters and clams.
A small group of restaurant professionals gathered in the Sheraton hotel kitchen on Dec. 13 for an introduction to kelp cuisine from Jeff Trombetta, professor of culinary arts at Norwalk Community College. He’s been chopping, sautéing and consuming kelp for the past four to five years, developing recipes for what he believes could become chefs’ “new go-to vegetable.”
Eating with the Ecosystem will host the third in a series of Food Boat cooking demonstrations and tastings at the New Haven Farmers Market on Oct. 24.
“If you end up liking our sample,” said Kate Masury, program director for the nonprofit group Eating With the Ecosystem, “go out and ask for it at your local market. By eating these local species, you’re helping reduce carbon emissions and you’re supporting local fishermen.”