Town & Country Markets has partnered with Blue North Fisheries to introduce Humane Harvest line-caught Pacific cod, available Nov. 1. The independent grocer is the first food retailer to offer the line of fish, which meets a new standard for ethical harvest.
The Blue North fishing vessel is the first in the Bering Sea to use Moon Pool technology, harvesting fish from inside the vessel rather than the weather deck, which eliminates the crew’s exposure to dangerous sea conditions. Once the cod is individually caught through the Moon Pool using hook and line, a stunning table immobilizes the fish prior to processing so that is feels no stress or pain. The fish is then filleted and frozen at sea for optimal freshness.
"This seems a natural next step in our commitment to offer sustainable seafood and conscious food choices to our shoppers," says Susan Allen, shareholder and director of brand development for Town & Country Markets. "We are excited to offer this Humane Harvest cod to our customers, and are honored to be the first retailer to do so."
The Blue North Humane Harvest Initiative has been available on a limited basis to restaurant groups since its launch in 2015. The partnership with Town & Country Markets marks the first opportunity for the company to provide a filleted product to retailers for direct-to-consumer sale.
"We believe that all sentient beings, including fish, deserve to be treated as humanely as possible," says Michael Burns, co-founder and chairman of Blue North Fisheries. "When we looked at potential partners to introduce this new product to consumers, we immediately thought of Town & Country Markets. My family and I have shopped for more than 30 years at our local Bainbridge Island Town & Country store."
According to a blind study from the School of Food Sciences at Washington State University (WSU), Humane Harvest fish that experienced reduced stress and pain were proven to have higher levels of nutrients and proteins, were flakier and had improved muscle texture.
"Seafood is one of the most important natural vectors for high nutritional value protein and omega-3s for humans," Mahmoudreza Ovissipour wrote in his WSU report published in 2015. "Since fish can feel pain and stress, these factors can easily influence their quality, nutritional value, shelf life and consumption safety."
Pacific cod is also recognized by leading nonprofit watchdog organizations as a sustainable seafood product, and Alaska-caught cod is noted as a "Best Choice" by the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch List.
"We like to say that doing the right thing tastes better," adds Burns. "In the case of Humane Harvest line-caught pacific cod, it's the most responsible, healthy, and humane choice to make and for us, nothing tastes better."