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Slow Fish

Fast Food v Slow Food 

McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC…we are a generation which has grown up embracing the idea of ‘fast food’ on the go. However, armed with an increase in knowledge, more and more people are now starting to think about what is on their plate, where it has come from and how it has been sourced.

As a counter reaction to fast food - The Slow Food Movement (SFM), a grassroots organisation with supporters in over 150 countries around the world – is increasingly gaining momentum, and shellfish is on the menu.

Cultural Change

SFM started in Italy in the 1980s and is attempting to change the fast food culture, and in doing so, help small food producers and the environment. It focuses on locally prepared food that tastes good without harming the environment or your health.

The group believes that good food on your plate can only come from small producers and food produced in this way is better for the environment and also supports cultural diversity in a way that big scale farming does not.

Similar to the ethos of our work here at Scottish Shellfish, SFM is working to preserve “bio-diversity, food and environmental diversity…to educate people, and help the consumer to understand what is sustainable development and to help the small producer."

Slow Fish

Like Scottish Shellfish, SFM believes that small-scale fishers form an essential part of fragile aquatic ecosystems that must be protected along with the biodiversity of marine species. 

As a result SFM has launched the Slow Fish campaign, where they are working to promote artisanal fishing and neglected fish species and inspire reflection on the state and management of the sea’s resources, promoting responsible fish consumption around the world.

The campaign invites consumers, chefs, academics and fishers to find local solutions that support better management of the sea’s resources.

Eat More Shellfish

During the recent four-day Slow Fish biannual conference held in Geno, Italy, Massimo Bernacchini, a member of the Slow Food Italy Executive Committee, commented that: "It is increasingly evident that in order for the seas to continue to be food reserves, we must definitely change our habits - catch less and better, grow algae and eat more shellfish. 

“A true cultural leap in which Slow Food must take an important leading role by involving fishermen and breeders, cooks and consumers.

"To be able to sustainably tackle the increase in the world population while maintaining a still rich sea, we must aim at the lower part of the food chain, thus avoiding fish that are at the apex, such as tuna or swordfish in favour of bivalves, crustaceans, plankton and algae, which are very abundant.

“Only in this way will we be able to preserve resources for future generations and truly save our sea.”

Sea to Plate

Here at Scottish Shellfish we are proud that our cultivated mussels and oysters are amongst the most environmentally friendly food products around and are harvested from the pristine seas off the Scottish west coast and Shetland. We can trace the journey from sea to plate and our Scottish rope grown mussels are an excellent example of sustainable sourcing. 

Our mussels and oysters are a perfect example of ‘slow food!’ – sit back, taste and enjoy! 

For further information Scottish Shellfish and the environment click here.  

Sustainability

Sustainability. It’s a word that is bandied around a lot these days. And at Scottish Shellfish it’s at the very heart of what we do. But do you know what it actually means?

A fragile balance

Today, we’re very aware of environmental issues. We’re bombarded with shocking pictures of wildlife (birds, seals and fish in particular) festooned or swathed in plastic waste that we’ve simply discarded, which threatens their wellbeing and potentially their very existence. But does our awareness translate into action?

Sustainability defined

When it comes to the environment, it’s clear our global practices need to change. You can read the science bit here but the basic definition of sustainability – one which we can all understand – is the creation, build and use of items and organisations which won’t damage our environment or our society, in a bid to protect our future and our children’s future.

But more than simply understanding the definition of sustainability, it’s important that we take the time to consider the consequences of our current global behaviour if it continues unchecked. The scale of the problem we face can be daunting, but we can all do our bit to arrest, if not reverse the damage done.

Scotland at the forefront

When it comes to seafood and Scottish seafood in particular, sustainability is key. Thanks to our cold, clear waters, as a nation our seafood and our shellfish are amongst the most celebrated. Here’s some stats which might surprise you…

  • Scotland is one of the largest seafood producers in Europe
  • Scottish seafood (via the Scottish Development International) was the official partner of the World Gourmet Summit in Singapore in 2016
  • We’ve got one of the most modern fishing fleets in Europe
  • Over two thirds of the world’s langoustines are sourced from Scottish waters.

And we’re no slackers either when it comes to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) accreditations.

What is the MSC?

Scotland holds more Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) accreditations than most EU countries. Established in London in 1997, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) exists to ensure that global fisheries commit to sustain stocks in the wild instead of aquaculture farmed fish.  MSC-certified fish is now available in a total of 97 countries, and 10% of all wild seafood is now being caught to the MSC standard.

Sustainability at Scottish Shellfish

It’s easy to understand why, as UK's premier producer of finest quality shellfish, Scottish Shellfish take sustainability so seriously. Our rope grown mussels are a great example of sustainability in practice. We suspend ropes from floats in the sea. Once the ropes are in place, our intervention stops. The young mussels settle naturally on our ropes and then grow simply by feeding on sea plankton. They don’t require any other feed source. Because they grow by suspension, there’s no dredging which means they’re grit free when harvested.

When it comes to oysters, cultivation is similar, although instead of using ropes, we grow them in special mesh bags held on trestles in the inter-tidal zone. With an extremely low carbon footprint, our mussels and our oysters are arguably one of the most environmentally friendly food products around.

Do your bit

You don’t just have to take our word for it. Our oyster and mussel farms are independently certified by the Friend of the Sea. When you buy your seafood from us you’re doing your bit for the environment.

Now you’re here, take some time to browse our site, read our blog, and check out our recipes, safe in the knowledge that you’re making responsible choices which will help all of us secure the future of our seas.

shellfish farming A proud tradition

Traditional healthy fare

Historically, shellfish was the food of the masses, but today it’s often regarded as a delicacy. And because of the relative rarity of consumption, some regard shellfish with suspicion. But seafood in general and shellfish in particular give us oils and vitamins which can help reduce heart disease, and they’re an important part of a healthy diet.

Genuine fast food

Our reluctance to eat shellfish is partly because we don’t know how to prepare it at home.  Shellfish is a genuine fast food which requires little effort to prepare. And there’s evidence that this message is beginning to hit home.

An upward trend

Although production of shellfish varies every year (due to weather, market prices and poor growth) statistics show that the shellfish industry in Scotland (dominated by mussels, scallops and oysters) is growing. In 2016, for example mussel production increased by six per cent, pacific oysters are up by 31% from 2015, and queen scallop production has increased by a staggering 370% in the same period. The Scottish shellfish industry itself is valued at £11.7m. (Source: Scottish Shellfish Farm Production Survey 2016)

Sustainable Scottish fishing

Today, Scotland leads the way in sustainable fishing practices. Most seafood is farmed rather than hand-picked, although the mussels themselves are cultivated or rope-grown, and no additives or feed are used. Ropes are set up in a carefully selected clean water area and the mussels attach themselves to the ropes, to be harvested a few years later. Celebrity chef Jean Claude Novelli describes Scottish mussels farmed in Shetland as "the best in the world".

A family business

Traditionally, shellfish farming is a family business. Often established in remote coastal areas where employment opportunities were limited. Shellfish can’t be farmed intensively, cultivation requires specialist skills, sometimes honed over generations. Today there are nearly 200 shellfish farming businesses in Scotland, many of which are still family run.

Working together

Despite the focus on family-run businesses, our shellfish farmers often work together to market and sell their products at agreed prices.  These co-operatives keep marketing prices down, and the market buoyant and healthy.

The personal touch

Although we work together with a number of different farmers, we still believe in the personal touch.  All of our produce can be traced back to its original source. Our shellfish farmers are based on the west coast of Scotland and on Shetland, and their oysters, mussels and scallops have their own unique qualities depending on the skills and methods used and the farm itself. Our individual farmers’ stories contribute overall to the history of Scottish shellfish and are an important part of our own story. Click here to read our farmers' stories.

Next time you’re considering what to cook for a simple weekday supper, why not eschew the traditional pizza or spaghetti bolognaise and try mussels or scallops instead? We have lots of great recipes on our website which are quick and easy to prepare, and much healthier for you.

oysters for the poor

It’s hard to believe that oysters used to be considered a peasants’ food. Barrels of ice and freshly shucked oysters were to be found on London street corners, and pubs served them up with pints as a snack.

Cheap and sustainable

The reason for the popularity of these tasty bivalves was the low-price point, a result of the ease in which they grow naturally. As filter feeders, they help to keep the water around them clear and sweet.  Meaning that even the farmed variety are sustainable and ecologically sound.

The Oyster, An aphrodisiac?

As popularity increased, so did the price.  This meant that often they were a treat enjoyed on special occasions. The reputation of oysters as an aphrodisiac grew, and they began to be associated with Valentine’s Day.

While there are no special qualities that are specifically good for this sort of celebration, oysters contain plenty of zinc.  Zinc is an energy booster that creates a feel-good mood, thus the connection between oysters and amore!

Other health benefits

Oysters (along with most other shellfish) are also high in iron, selenium, calcium, and vitamins including A, C, and B12.  Which means that including a couple in your weekly diet is one of the easiest possible ways to make sure you get your recommended dosage of health boosting minerals and vitamins.

Oyster serving suggestions

Low in calories and fat but high in protein, oysters should not continue to be relegated to the starter menu.  A dozen just-shucked oysters sprinkled with tabasco, mignonette, or simple lemon is a sure-fire way to get the taste buds tingling and satisfy hearty appetites. For those that prefer their molluscs warm, serve them grilled with butter and cream for a fulfilling option.

The delicate flavour of the sea comes through no matter what your favourite method happens to be. What’s more, oysters can be paired with a deliciously crisp white wine or a sturdy stout. Easy to prepare, a friend to all accompaniments, and healthy beyond belief.

Oysters really are the wonder-food that has been right under our noses all this time!