When you look at a restaurant menu, especially in a seaside town, you’ll often see detailed, loving descriptions of the seafood specials for sale. But it might surprise you to find out that the delectable fish dish you’re about to consume could be fraudulent. Mislabeled seafood has become a real problem in the past several years. A report by Oceana earlier this year found that up to 33% of seafood for sale in a retail environment has been mislabeled. This kind of number can’t be attributed to mere carelessness. It seems many retailers and vendors are becoming victim to seafood fraud – and that means that you, the consumer, might be too. So why are counterfeit fish suddenly on the rise? It should come as no surprise that it’s all about money. Cheaper farmed fish are often substituted for wild fish in cases of mislabeling. When you see grouper, sole, or cod in your grocer’s display case, you might actually be getting pangasius. The red snapper you’re eyeing might just be tilapia. And that wild or king salmon you’re thinking about splurging on might be Atlantic farmed salmon. Retail is a competitive business: large scale fish vendors may be willing to do whatever it takes to sell a particular type of fish at a lower margin than their competitors, even if it means fudging the origin. Overfished and vulnerable species are also at risk to be counterfeited. Due to fishing restrictions on species like Pacific halibut, Atlantic halibut may be sold in its place: similarly, speckled hind might be passed off as red grouper. So what can you do to ensure you’re getting what you pay for? One particularly enterprising sushi chef in California has developed edible QR codes embedded with all of a fish’s information. Sushi restaurants in general (and particularly ones in California) were often the places with the highest occurrences of fraudulent fish. This is a creative way to solve a very real problem. However, until that technology becomes a little more widespread, just use your common sense. Skip getting your fish from a grocer or a big box store and instead try to source it locally. There are plenty of local seafood vendors at the Sarasota Farmer’s Market downtown every weekend, and you can also get some amazing fresh fish for sale at Island Fresh Market in Holmes Beach. The more people you cut out of the retail and distribution end, the fresher your fish is – plus, it takes away a lot of steps where shenanigans might occur. Also, be sure to dine at restaurants that source their fish carefully. Here at The Waterfront we source our seafood from small, independent vendors with a proven track record, so we can guarantee we’re serving you delicious food that is what we say it is. There’s no mystery frozen fish off the back of a truck here: just delectable fresh seafood delivered daily. It’s just one of the ways we like to provide better fare to all our valued customers.
At The Waterfront Restaurant, we pride ourselves on running a sustainable business. We also believe that sustainability starts in the home. Starting the process of living a sustainable life can sound like a daunting task, but don’t worry: contrary to popular belief, it is easy being green. One easy way you can start living more sustainably is by upcycling. Upcycling (which is something our neighbors up the street at Relish Marketplace know a lot about) is the act of giving new life to something that might otherwise be discarded. The principle behind this concept is that you can reduce your carbon footprint a lot by reducing your waste – all it takes is a little innovative thinking. Today, we’re challenging you to think outside the box and come up with ways you can reinvent a single household item that might otherwise end up in the trash. We’ll start with something frequently seen around here: empty wine bottles. Obviously, we recycle all of our glass containers here at The Waterfront, including the wine bottles left at the end of our weekly Thursday-evening wine tastings. Obviously it’s easy enough to put the glass bottle in the recycling bin, but what happens to the corks? Sure, you can put them in the trash – corks biodegrade fairly quickly. Or you could give them a whole new purpose through upcycling. There are plenty of practical applications for corks: you can chop them up and turn them into mulch, or use them with some eco-friendly dish soap to scrub down your higher-end kitchen knives without scratching the blades. Feeling a little more artistic? You could save up your corks until you have enough to create a whimsical custom-made DIY baseboard for your home. Corks aren’t the only things that lend themselves to fun art projects. Steam labels off of wine bottles and save them up until you have enough to glue together to make some really fun, one-of-a-kind wrapping paper. Or, if there’s a bottle of wine that’s really special to you – for instance, it was the kind you toasted with at your wedding reception – you can just put it in a simple frame for a piece of unusual wall art. Your wine bottles don’t have to go straight to the curb either. There are dozens of uses for empty wine bottles. There are hundreds of instructional guides online on how to upcycle your wine bottle into a candle holder or a lighting fixture or a vase, or even an operational fountain. But you can also get super creative and use upside-down wine bottles as edging for a garden path. Ultimately, upcycling is about really paying attention to all of the items that cross your path, and using a little innovation to make sure they get the most use possible. This doesn’t mean you have to turn every piece of garbage in your home into an art project, but it does mean you should take a moment before discarding something to make sure it can’t serve another purpose. Let us know in the comment section your outside-of-the box ideas for reducing waste!
Plenty of teenagers have played in a garage band. Not nearly so many have played in a garbage band. But for years, five Sarasota teens have been doing just that. The Garbage-Men is comprised of five high-schoolers – Evan, Jack, Austin, Ollie, and Harrison – who play primarily music from the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. But what helps them stand apart isn’t just their modern take on classic songs: it’s the instruments they play on. Every instrument in the band is made of recycled materials, from cereal boxes to yard sticks to PVC pipes to paint cans to glass bottles to much, much more. Image source: Mindsonmusik.kindermusik.com Their unconventional musical instruments are not just a gimmick. Instead, they are a very hands-on example of how what we perceive as trash can be upcycled and turned into something functional and even beautiful. The members of the band promote recycling and reuse as something that can be done every day in a creative way. And their message is having a big impact: not only does the band frequently perform in the Sarasota area, they have played on CNN and in Times Square among many other venues, and have been featured in several national publications. Image source Kickstarter.com And The Garbage-Men aren’t just about saving the planet: they are big believers in giving back to the community. They frequently play at charity events to help raise money, plus they donate 100% of the sales from their CDs and merchandise to charities they support. One organization they have championed, Heifer International, is one that’s close to our hearts, too. Heifer International donates farm animals like goats, chickens, and sheep to families in poverty-stricken countries. The recipients not only get immediate nutritional benefit from consuming the milk and eggs provided by the animal, they now have a source of income and a way to help feed their neighbors. The band has sold more than 500 copies of their current CD, and they have donated over $5,000 to the organization as a result. Image source: Bradenton.com To learn more about this band of enterprising young men, check out their website or their Facebook page. You can learn more about their message of recycling, reusing, and giving back, and also find out where to see an upcoming show. Because at the end of the day, not only are these young men setting a great example for sustainability: they also play some awesome rock and roll.