Seafood Choices

Eating with the Ecosystem

A new venture in Rhode Island takes a holistic view of local seafood and aims to encourage us to eat a diverse array of species, rather than depleting our marine resources by consuming the same few fish. Sarah Schumann started Eating with the Ecosystem to bring the concept of ecosystem-based management to the dinner plate. (Ecosystem management is a way of considering the ocean as an interrelated system, rather than managing one species at a time.) Partnering with local chefs, community-supported fisheries and home cooks, the project aims to “raise awareness about New England’s marine ecosystems” by way of our eating habits.

“People are concerned about the impacts of their seafood choices on fish stocks,” said Schumann. “But with this project, we go beyond looking at individual stocks to look at the whole ecosystem. The burgeoning local seafood movement in New England allows us to understand the impacts of eating seafood on specific places in our nearby ocean, and to plan our menus accordingly.” On her website, Schumann details the way she envisions this new concept of eating seafood, which includes eating a variety of species, eating more fish from lower in the food web and “choosing seafood items from locations where we know a species to be strongest.”

This year, six restaurants will bring unique, local seafood to Rhode Island diners in a dinner series organized by Schumann. Each meal will be hosted at a different restaurant and will feature seasonal catch from several regions of New England waters: Southern New England, Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank. The emphasis is on alternate seafood choices that people from the coast may have seen at the shoreline, but may not have sampled, such as periwinkles, sea grasses and sculpin.

“With seafood products now coming from closer to home, we can get creative about softening the impacts of our meal choices on our blue planet,” said Chef Derek Wagner of Nick’s on Broadway, which kicks off the series on March 20. “By bringing together science and dining, this project gives chefs and diners a behind-the-scenes look at what sustainable seafood can mean here in New England.”

We look forward to hearing more about this interesting concept and hope to attend one of the dinners!

March 20
Southern New England waters
Nick’s on Broadway
, 500 Broadway, Providence
Call to reserve (401) 421-0286

April 2
Gulf of Maine
, 318 Broadway, Providence
Book online

April 30
Georges Bank
The Dorrance
, 60 Dorrance St., Providence

September 10
Southern New England Waters
Cook & Brown
, 959 Hope St., Providence

October 9
Gulf of Maine
Hourglass Brasserie
, 82 Thames St., Bristol

November 5
Georges Bank
Tallulah on Thames
, 464 Thames Street, Newport


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