Posts Tagged 'Fresh Thoughts'



Thank Mom and the Planet Today!

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Mother’s Day is a special time to appreciate all that our moms, dads and other special role models do! Join the National Aquarium in celebrating Mother’s Day by doing something eco-fun this weekend with your family. The real gift is the time you’ll spend together creating memories!

Here are some ways you can celebrate both Mom and Mother Nature: 

Have fun outside together.
Did you know there are 75 nature sites within 25 miles of Baltimore! Click here to find one near you.

Create a birdbath together!
Spring has sprung and local birds are singing, courting and busily starting to build their nests this time of year. Consider starting a new tradition this Mother’s Day by getting outside and doing a fun craft that helps our native bird families!

Here’s a simple plan for building your own birdbath.

  1. Place a terracotta pot upside down.
  2. Place a terracotta saucer on top of the overturned pot.
  3. Fill the saucer with water (no more than a few inches deep)
  4. Place a few rocks in the water for the birds to land on.

For the best location for your bird bath, choose an area that is close to a window. That way, if a bird gets startled, they won’t be able to pick up much speed if they accidentally fly into the glass. Ideally, choose a spot that is also close to a bush or tree where they can hide if they sense a predator nearby.

Put a sustainable spin on dinner and flowers!
Treat mom to a delicious meal of sustainable seafood. It’s healthier for you and for the ocean!

Looking for an special last-minute gift? Join us for our upcoming Fresh Thoughts sustainable seafood dinners in both Baltimore and Washington, DC!  

Thank Mom with a locally grown organic bouquet of fragrant blooms and skip the whiff of pesticides. Organically grown flowers support local businesses that are helping keep chemicals out of our rivers, streams and the Chesapeake Bay.

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Addressing Concerns About Our Fresh Thoughts Menu

We’d like to address some recent concerns members of our online community have made about the menu of our upcoming Fresh Thoughts sustainable seafood dinner.

The three-course menu featuring locally-farmed caviar had originally included the preparation of sustainable veal. We’ve received some thoughtful comments on Facebook regarding this controversial meat. We fully understand these sentiments and want to thank our community for their feedback. In response, we’ve decided to take this item off our menu.

The mission of Fresh Thoughts is to raise awareness of sustainable food sources (both seafood and non-seafood) and how those choices can help lessen our negative impact on the environment. Veal is a meat that is still widely-consumed around the world. By including it in this dinner, our intention was to make our guests aware of the fact that there is a way to consume veal sustainably.

Xavier Deshayes, our expert chef, is passionate about serving meals that are environmentally and humanely conscious. The veal that was originally included on the menu of our upcoming dinner had the endorsement of Humane Farm Animal Care, a local nonprofit organization that certifies the responsible treatment of farm animals. Their certification assures consumers that the animals have had ample space, shelter and access to fresh water. It also has strict standards against the use of antibiotics or hormones.

National Aquarium does not endorse the general consumption of veal. However, for those who regularly include the meat as a part of their diet, we encourage you to take a moment to consider getting your veal from a sustainable source and one with the endorsement of Humane Farm Animal Care or a similar organization.

Again, we sincerely apologize for any personal offense caused by our decision to include veal on our menu and we hope that we’ve made our original intentions clear! If you’d like to speak further with our team about this issue, please email social@aqua.org.

To learn more about our Fresh Thoughts program, click here.

Thoughtful Thursdays: Sustainable Sturgeon Farming

Chef Xavier Deshayes, the creative genius behind our Washington D.C. Fresh Thoughts dining series has a real passion for sustainable seafood. In preparing for dinners like Fresh Thoughts, it has become common practice for Chef Deshayes to  travel and investigate the sources of his fresh ingredients first-hand! Earlier this month, Chef Deshayes and members of our conservation team traveled to an aquaculture facility in North Carolina that will be providing both the sturgeon and caviar for our upcoming dinner on April 24th!

Chef Deshayes observing the sturgeon in North Carolina.

Chef Deshayes observing the sturgeon in North Carolina.

The Atlantic Sturgeon and Caviar Company began selling their products just last year, but operations at the facility began as early as 2008. They’re located in the hills of Lenoir, North Carolina, at the foot of the Appalachians and within sight of Mount Mitchell, the highest mountain east of the Mississippi River. The business is cooperatively funded by private business partners, North Carolina State University and experts from the North Carolina Cooperative Extension. The 720,000 gallon aquaculture facility sits on the site of the family farm of one of its founders and contains 36 large tanks.

An aerial shot of the nursery facility.

An aerial shot of the facility.

Three species of sturgeon are raised at the farm; Atlantic , Russian and Siberian. The Russian Sturgeon is the source of the famous Osetra caviar. Atlantic sturgeon are native to the United States and can be found in distinct populations along the east coast and in the rivers from Canada to Florida. They spend most of their adult lives in the ocean but will return to the river in which they were born to spawn. Like their Russian counterparts, Atlantic sturgeon populations are diminishing and there are limits or outright bans on fishing these animals.

The Atlantic Sturgeon and Caviar Company was founded in order to help fill the demand for quality seafood and caviar without over-burdening wild populations of fish stocks. Fish are fed and maintained for several years – until they are 3-5 years old and are approximately three feet in length. Around this time, experts at the facility use ultrasound technology to determine the sex of the animal and males and females are separated.

A sturgeon being given an x-ray to determine sex.

A sturgeon being given an ultrasound to determine sex.

Males are raised to the desired size and harvested for their meat. Fresh sturgeon meat is white and firm and popular in restaurants around the region.

Once the females are separated they are monitored through ultrasound for proper egg development. We watched this process and it’s an amazing marriage between science and art. The subtle differences between “exactly right” and “a tad too far” are impossible to detect from a layman’s perspective but are extremely important if you want to maximize profits by providing the best caviar product possible. The process of extracting caviar is delicate, exacting, detail oriented and extremely time consuming.

Once the caviar has been harvested, it's canned by hand.

Once the caviar has been harvested, it’s canned by hand.

The staff at the Atlantic Sturgeon and Caviar Company are passionate about creating a successful business that is sustainable in the long-term!

Join us at the next Fresh Thought dinner in Washington, DC to see the success of their work! Want to learn more about our sustainable seafood program in DC? Watch this video: 

A Blue View: Lionfish Invade Our Seas

A Blue View is a weekly perspective on the life aquatic, hosted by National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli.

From the smallest plants and animals invisible to the human eye to entire ecosystems, every living thing depends on and is intricately linked by water.

Tune in to 88.1 WYPR every Tuesday at 5:45 pm as John brings to the surface important issues and fascinating discoveries making waves in the world today.

March 13, 2013: Lionfish Invade Our Seas

A Blue View podcast

Click here to listen to John and aquarist Ashleigh Clews discuss 
the threat lionfish pose to the health of our oceans.

Since 1992, when Pacific lionfish were first sighted in South Florida waters, this fish has become widely established all along the southeast United States and the Caribbean Sea, even being spotted as far north as New York. These distinctive looking fish—red and white striped with long pectoral fins and needle-like dorsal fins, have profoundly impacted the health of the ecosystems where they now reside.

So, how were these species introduced into local waters? Ashleigh Clews, a senior aquarist at the Aquarium, says it’s likely that the species was first introduced by home aquarium owners. Although these fish are popular in the trade, they often outgrow their tanks and will sometimes prey on other fish.

There was an estimated population boom of 700 percent between 2004 and 2008 in invaded areas. This presence of lionfish in the Atlantic is causing many problems. They’re eating native fish and crustaceans and destroying native habitats and ecosystems. Additionally, with no real predators and an average spawn rate of close to 2 million eggs a year, this species shows no sign of disappearing on its own.

Conservationists and researchers are working to address this growing problem through a variety of initiatives, including raising awareness of lionfish as a sustainable seafood option!

Have you ever eaten lionfish? Tell us about your experience in the comments! 

Fresh Thoughts Recipe: Cinnamon Butter Poached Rockfish

Our sustainable seafood dining series, Fresh Thoughts, not only offers a delicious dinner and a fun evening out, it’s also a way to increase your understanding of sustainable seafood practices to help you make informed choices. As part of the Aquarium’s mission to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures, we provide the community a venue to better understand what sustainable seafood choices are available locally and how this larger movement can help protect many species from overfishing!

In anticipation of our upcoming Fresh Thoughts sustainable seafood dinner, our featured chef Matt Siegmund of the Oregon Grille is sharing his delicious rockfish recipe!

Oregon Grille Cinnamon Butter Poached Rockfish

Recipe for Cinnamon Butter Poached Rockfish (Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. rockfish (skin off, cut into four 3-oz. pieces)
  • 4 vanilla beans (cut in half with seeds and dried overnight)
  • 1/2 cup blended oil
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 pound of butter
  • 1 acorn squash
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons of whole butter
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Blend oil with vanilla beans.
  2. Clarify 1 pound of butter with cinnamon sticks until aromatic.
  3. Cut the acorn squash in half with skin on; season with salt, pepper and maple syrup.
  4. Roast the squash in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes (or until semi-firm).
  5. When the squash is cool, peel away skin and cut into 1/2-inch cubes; set aside.
  6. Season fish with salt and pepper.
  7. Heat cinnamon butter in a saucepan until hot (not boiling).
  8. Place fish in butter, turning occasionally until cooked through.
  9. In a separate pan, melt 2 tablespoons of whole butter, then add squash, salt and pepper and cook until golden brown.
  10. Place squash in center of plate; top with poached rockfish and drizzle vanilla oil over top.

Want to learn more great sustainable seafood recipes? Join us for our next Fresh Thoughts dinner


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