By Theresa Yoshioka, Oregon Department of Agriculture
The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA), the Oregon seafood industry and Oregon Sea Grant have launched an initiative called #EatOregonSeafood to encourage Oregonians and Washingtonians to purchase and prepare Oregon seafood at home amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to restaurant closures worldwide and the resulting reduced commercial demand, Oregon’s seafood industry saw a sharp decrease in sales between March and May. The campaign is an opportunity to support regional fishing families and seafood processors and preserve the industry that delivers fresh, locally caught seafood.
#EatOregonSeafood is recruiting some of the region’s top chefs, foodies, bloggers and influencers to post recipes, photos and cooking videos of their favorite seafood-themed dishes on social media from June through August. This initiative also includes the other experts in preparing seafood at home: Oregon’s fishing families.
“We want to make it easier for people to buy and prepare the local, fresh seafood that we are so fortunate to have in Oregon,” said Nancy Fitzpatrick, executive director of the Oregon Albacore Commission and the Oregon Salmon Commission. “Since many of us are still preparing most of our meals at home, it’s a good time to try a new recipe or type of seafood you may not have eaten in the past. Not only will it benefit our fishing community, but seafood has tremendous health benefits for people looking to eat nutritious and delicious food at home.”
There are several ways to buy seafood caught off the coast of Oregon: People can purchase seafood at their local supermarket, online and right off the dock from the fishing boat that caught it. Some companies are finding creative ways to get fresh seafood to Oregonians, such as Local Ocean's DockBox in which seafood meal kits are delivered to pick-up locations in Portland, Eugene and Corvallis. Along parts of the coast, they’ll even deliver to your door.
To find local seafood in Oregon, visit Oregon Sea Grant’s webpage called “Eat Oregon Seafood.”
The webpage also offers tips on when and what types of fish and seafood to purchase and how to freeze, smoke and prepare seafood. It also has recipes, which will expand with the contributions of the #EatOregonSeafood campaign over the coming months.
“There is a common misperception that seafood is extremely difficult to make at home,” said Taunette Dixon, president of the Newport Fishermen’s Wives and co-owner of a fishing vessel. “But seafood and seafood dishes are actually easy and quick to prepare. It can seem intimidating at first, but once you try it, you’ll see it’s not all that complicated. In fact, seafood is my go-to for simple, healthy family meals and special occasions.”
Fitzpatrick and Dixon stressed that although different fisheries have seasons, buying fresh frozen seafood is possible in all seasons. They also pointed out one misconception about frozen seafood not being as fresh. Blind taste tests conducted by Oregon State University found that seafood caught and quickly frozen at sea rated as good as or better than supposedly “fresh” fish bought at the supermarket. Most Oregon seafood is frozen shortly after it is caught.
Oregon seafood is diverse and sustainably harvested. All of the fisheries in Oregon are carefully managed to maintain the abundance for future generations.
ODA in partnership with the Oregon seafood industry encourages people to make their dishes and post them to social media using #EatOregonSeafood. A similar hashtag, #EatSeafoodAmerica!, promotes a national initiative.
The Oregon initiative is a collaboration of the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission, Oregon Albacore Commission, Oregon Trawl Commission, Oregon Salmon Commission, OSU Extension Service, Oregon Sea Grant, Positively Groundfish and ODA.