Over the last few years there has been a steady decline in the mealtime appearance of processed foods, which are increasingly being replaced by fresh, healthier foods, encouraged by movements such as as organic, sustainable, slow food and farm to table. And now there’s another food movement coming in off the Oregon Coast: Sea to Table.
Sea to Table is a fundraising dinner hosted by Ten Rivers Food Web, a nonprofit organization based in Corvallis that focuses on creating a more vibrant local food culture within Linn, Benton and Lincoln Counties. The dinner’s proceeds will go towards their That’s My Farmer SNAP — Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — incentive program. The program is designed to help make healthier, local food more affordable to low-income consumers.
For every purchase of $6 or more with SNAP benefits, consumers will receive an additional $6 in tokens to spend at participating farmers’ markets. Proceeds from the dinner will go towards matching $6 SNAP benefits spent at Linn and Lincoln County farmers’ markets.
The goal is to promote healthy eating while supporting local farmers and fisherman.
So is Sea to Table a bona fide movement?
“It was kind of just a clever name we came up with for this dinner, but also part of our organizer’s work is increasing the amount of seafood that’s coming from the coast to the valley and to create that sort of relationship, to think about not just local fruits and vegetables but also local seafood and where that’s coming from,” said Thats My Farmer Outreach Coordinator Katy Giombolini.
“The concept (Sea to Table) is really about getting what’s available from our oceans into the local food movement,” said Chloe Rico, Ten Rivers community food organizer for Lincoln County. “That’s another great food resource that we have in our community, especially out here in Newport and in Lincoln County. Our biggest food resource is our fisheries.”
The fish for the dinner has been donated by a few of these fisheries: from some of Oregon’s fish commissions, such as the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission and the Oregon Albacore Commission, and from independent, eco-friendly fishermen like Newport restaurant and fish market Ocean Bleu at Gino’s.
In terms of fishing, being sustainable boils down to having good practices. This relates to a number of factors from how the fish are caught and how many fish are caught, to the size, age and sex of the fish. For example, the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission regulates their crab harvesting based on the size, sex and season — fishermen can harvest only male crabs of a certain size that are caught in season between Dec. 1 and Aug. 14.
All of these factors determine a rating of eco-friendliness, given by enviromental groups such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch and Audubon Guide to Seafood.
“The fisheries in Oregon are rated very highly for their seafood,” Giombolini said.
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But being sustainable doesn’t stop at just having good harvesting practices — being sustainable also means knowing where your food comes from.
“(Ocean Bleu at Gino’s) is donating rockfish, and their rockfish is hook-and-line caught — and that’s a practice that is determined as sustainable,” Rico said. “They’re working with fishermen where they know the boat that caught it, they know the practices they use and they know the product that they’re getting is really high quality. And that’s really what we focus on when we think about sustainable, just knowing your farmer or fishermen.”
“We really have tried to focus this year at Ten Rivers on promoting the fishermen and the sustainable fisheries we have here,” she said. “I think that gets forgotten a little bit. In the food movement we do focus on farms and farming practices, and that’s really important, but one really big part of the three-county food system of Linn, Benton and Lincoln is the ocean.”
The dinner begins at 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26, at Linn-Benton Community College, 6500 Pacific Blvd SW, Albany, and features a menu created by Chef Matt Bennett of Sybaris Bistro. Tickets are $49.
MENU, created by Chef Matt Bennett of Sybaris Bistro
BEGINS WITH: Assorted hor d’oeuvres from the wood fired oven
FIRST COURSE: Olive oil poached albacore and a winter salad.
SECOND COURSE: Smoked salmon chowder with smoked oyster crackers.
MAIN COURSE: Dungeness crab crusted rockfish with pickled beet sauce, mashed root vegetables and crispy beets.
DESSERT: Dark cherry clafoutis with toasted hazelnut cookies
*For vegetarian options, email Kat Giombolini at firstname.lastname@example.org.