Sumptuous and Sustainable?


Food And Dining

When you sit down to eat a perfectly grilled black cod fillet, flaky and steaming on a bed of Japanese rice and garnished with bright lemons and avocado, are you satisfying more than your taste buds? With the growing popularity of sustainable dining, you can enjoy delicious, healthy food that’s produced in a way you can feel good about.  

It Matters Where Your Food Comes From

That’s where The Nature Conservancy comes in. Unbeknownst to many, the Conservancy works behind the scenes with ranchers, farmers, winemakers, and fishermen to bring high-quality food—produced in environmentally-sustainable ways—to your plate.

You can see this collaboration at work along California’s coast. Starting in the picturesque town of Morro Bay, the Conservancy bought federal fishing rights and boats and then leased them back to fishermen, encouraging them to find a sustainable way to fish. Together, they discovered that by changing their fishing practices—and by sharing information on where and what they were catching using an iPad app—they were able to bring in higher quality fish and reduce the number of overfished species in the bay. The Conservancy’s success is being applied across 15 million acres of California’s oceans, exported as far as New England, and most importantly, influencing top fisheries around the world. What does this mean for consumers? It means fresh, sustainably-caught, high-quality local seafood for all Californians—and those hungry tourists among us. 

Support Your Favorite Green Restaurant

Consumers have the unique ability to drive sustainable food production practices by choosing where and what they eat. The Nature Conservancy’s 2013 Nature’s Plate Awards—a people’s choice contest—calls on consumers to nominate their favorite restaurant using sustainable ingredients. “The Nature’s Plate Awards are a great way for people to think about the food experiences in their everyday lives,” Conservancy spokesperson Jennifer Marlow says. 

Gourmet and fine dining restaurants in particular have been strengthening their commitment to sustainability. When consumers show interest in where their food comes from, restaurants take notice—and take action. “While the awards are focused on restaurants,” Marlow says, “They are only one part of a deeper, ongoing conversation about food and conservation.” 

A Sustainable Solution

At the heart of the matter, we all need to eat. And most of us put a premium on eating well. Behind the food that feeds us, there are fishermen, farmers, and producers—not to mention smart conservation organizations—proving that high-quality food can be produced sustainably and profitably. The more we know about the fishermen who catch fish and the farmers who grow the crops like rice and avocados, the more we can make smart food choices that fuel the production of sustainably-sourced food. 

To learn more about The Nature Conservancy and the 2013 Nature’s Plate Awards, follow them on Twitter @Conserve_CA or vote at conserveca.org/naturesplate.