What They Seed:
McFarland Springs Trout – truly sustainably farmed vegetarian rainbow trout
What They Feed:
100% vessel direct, sustainably harvested seafood, serving San Francisco and Portland
Where You Can Find Them:
Wholesale: Serving Portland and San Francisco restaurants & establishments – Fresh From The Boat Pricelist
Feeders They Supply:
Restaurants – Portland: Ava Gene’s, Bar Avignon, Nona, DOC, Beast, Zilla Sake, Renata, Le Pigeon, Taylor Railworks, Ned Ludd, Adina, Tasty & Alder, Irving St. Kitchen, Paley’s Place, Imperial
Restaurants – San Francisco: Aster, A16, Bluestem, Cavallo Point, Central Kitchen, Coi, Commis, Delfina, Fish, Hog Island Oyster, Outerlands, Nopalito, Penrose, Petit Crenn, Range, The Progress, State Bird Provisions, Waterbar
Sustainable is a word that crops up constantly when trying to buy or eat responsibly. But what does that really mean and can we really trust what we read about most seafood in stores or restaurants? This is the dilemma that TwoXSea is trying to address.
Kenny Belov and Bill Foss own a restaurant in Sausalito, CA called Fish. Unfortunately, Kenny found that trying to purchase fish for the restaurant that was responsibly caught or sustainably raised was confusing, deceptive and almost an impossible task. If he had trouble sorting through all the misinformation how could consumers hope to achieve this task?
When asked about the motivation to start TwoXSea, Kenny tells the story of a fish purveyor who once told him that the tuna Kenny bought was caught using rod and reel. Kenny was impressed and wanted to go meet the fisherman. At that point the truth came out that the purveyor wasn’t telling the whole truth. Unfortunately, instances like this happen daily. In doing more research, Kenny found other examples, like that swordfish caught anywhere in the Pacific could be labeled caught off the coast of California as long as the fish were offloaded onto a boat in California waters. The true origin of the fish and the method used to catch it did not have to show up on the label.
Kenny ultimately decided to take matters into his own hands. He created a relationship with a fishery in Alaska and started buying direct. He would pick up the fish from the San Francisco airport and drive it to his restaurant in Sausalito. Soon other San Francisco chefs caught wind and asked Kenny if he could deliver to their restaurants as well. It became clear that he was not the only one struggling to find an honest, traceable source for his seafood. So Kenny and Bill decided to start TwoXSea, a wholesale seafood distribution company, based out of Fish restaurant.
In 2009 they moved the company to Pier 45 on the San Francisco waterfront, where TwoXSea still operates today. TwoXSea seafood not only comes from healthy fisheries, but they are also caught with the strictest standards of catch methods. The catch methods they support do not deplete the resource, take unwanted by-catch or harm habitats. As the seasons change so do their buying habits; intelligent management of each fishery is based upon scientific evidence of how much each one can yield. The fish can be traced back to the vessel that caught the fish, and proper guarantees are in place regarding the honest origin of the fish.
In 2016 TwoXSea expanded to Portland, OR. Lauren Vannatter, a cook-turned-seafood slinger, heads up the Portland arm of TwoXSea. To start, seafood is shipped up from the San Francisco warehouse two times a week, but they are looking to settle into a warehouse in Portland in the near future.
A great number of restaurants and retailers in both San Francisco and Portland are fortunate to benefit from the work of TwoXSea to offer high quality, sustainably sourced seafood to their consumers.
MacFarland Springs Trout
When considering seafood sources, inevitably the topic of farmed fish comes up. Is it possible to responsibly farm fish? And if so, how? Kenny Belov and his business partner Bill Foss are doing just that. It has been a slow and arduous task but now it has been accomplished with certain varieties of California trout. Their original fish farm started in 2009 near Susanville, CA. Recently they started a second farm in a partnership with Desert Springs Farm in Southern Oregon.
McFarland Springs Rainbow Trout is the world’s first deliberate collaboration to responsibly farm sustainable fish. The trout farms where they grow trout are an environmental dream. The farms’ extremely cold water supply comes from the natural spring headwaters of the Susan River in Northern California and Summer Lake in Southern Oregon. These pristine waters are free of the pesticides and contaminants often found in water sources. They also use hydroelectric power from these same water supplies to provide all the electricity for the farms. TwoXSea and the farms never use any hormones or antibiotics because they don’t need to. They grow all the trout from eggs to maturity. The fish are raised in what are called raceways made with concrete.
In 2009 TwoXSea began to test and produce trout using a nearly pure vegetarian diet. Currently the trout diet consists of 3 micro algae, 2 marine algae, DHA (Omega 3), pea protein, flaxseed oil and nut oil. All the ingredients are locally sourced. There is No soy, No corn and No fishmeal. They are working toward incorporating black fly larvae into the feed recipe and expanding into tilapia. The results have been stunning! They have achieved a flavor that is like wild trout! Not to mention that the Omega 3 level is higher than that of wild salmon.
TwoXSea trout are the only trout farm in the world that uses red algae based feed. No natural stock of fish for fish food is impacted plus there is zero trace of heavy metals and mercury in their fish. Because the fish are raised locally they are lowering their carbon footprint and further promoting local cuisine.
Trout are generally considered as eco-friendly as they come. They eat mostly insects, but wild trout doesn’t get served in restaurants very often. Commercial trout, along with about half of the fish consumed worldwide, comes from farms. Ponds or tanks packed with fish that eat dried pellets until they are big enough to sell. This has led to all kinds of problems and has given farmed fish a bad reputation. TwoXSea has changed that.
The biggest problem of farmed fish is feeding them. It takes up to four pounds of wild fish to produce just one pound of conventionally farmed fish. At the current rate of consumption Bill Foss estimates the oceans will run out of fish before the end of the century. This is not sustainable or responsible.
“We are beginning to see emerging sciences that will allow us to grow insect and algae based diets for fish farming”, states Bill Foss of TwoXSea. “This type of diet couldn’t make a healthier trout. McFarland Springs Trout marks the movement of farming fish using organic farming techniques, where chemicals are not used and the feed source is a natural component of the diet of the species. Even better, species native to geographic regions can be raised; resulting in a new market for native heirloom trout.”
The two facilities combined house over 16,000 pounds of fish per month. The fish are healthier because the raceways are not overcrowded. The trout have plenty or room to swim, breathe and eat. The waste is vacuumed out and used as fertilizer and the wastewater is pumped out on the surrounding acreage that is lush with native grasses and trees.
Kenny Belov believes that this is the way fish should be farmed but he acknowledges that the price may be prohibitive for feeding the world. It is just a start and a pattern for how to do things right. He is working toward a better, renewable future that ensures seafood for generations to come. He encourages chefs to come tour the farms and any fishery to gain a better understanding of the food source.
MacFarland Springs Trout are available to chefs, restaurants and retailers through TwoXSea and appear on many of the best restaurant menus in San Francisco and Portland.
TwoXSea was founded on honesty and the six following sustainability criteria:
The fish comes from as local an area as possible, thus reducing carbon emissions and restoring regional cuisine.
The fish can be traced back to the vessel that caught the fish, and proper guarantees are in place regarding the honest origin of the fish.
The harvesting of all fish they sell has left more than enough fish for future generations, and caused no habitat destruction-none.
There is no loss of marine life through incidental catch, “bycatch” in the harvesting process.
The person who caught the fish was paid fairly for the work they did to bring it to you.
Top Photo Credit: Huffington Post