Tens of millions of salmon are beginning to return to the streams, rivers and headwaters of the Bristol Bay Fisheries Reserve in Alaska. They are in the final stage of completing a life cycle that began years earlier in the very same location and as long as the spawning grounds are intact and protected, these runs will continue to thrive forever.
But this vast, pristine habitat—home to one of the most important salmon fisheries in the world— is facing a catastrophic threat. Given massive discoveries of gold and copper deep below the surface of Bristol Bay’s headwaters, a foreign mining conglomerate called the Pebble Partnership plans to build North America’s largest open pit mine. Should toxic mining waste from the Pebble Mine find its way into the watershed, the effects would prove catastrophic to salmon and the entire ecosystem.
On December 21, 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released an Environmental Assessment (EA) with a “Finding of No Significant Impact” on the controversial AquaBounty AquaAdvantage transgenic salmon. The FDA action is widely viewed as confirmation that the Obama Administration is prepared to approve shortly the first genetically engineered (GE) animal intended for human consumption in the face of widespread opposition.
FDA says escape is unlikely and that the fish pose “no impact” to the environment. But each year millions of farmed salmon escape, out-competing wild populations for resources and straining ecosystems. Any approval of GE salmon would represent a serious threat to the survival of native salmon populations, many of which have already suffered severe declines related to salmon farms and other man-made impacts. Additionally, the human health impacts of eating GE fish, which would be the first-ever GE food animal, are entirely unknown.
Sign the petition to tell the Food and Drug Administration not to approve GE salmon AND, if the Obama Administration insists on approving these genetically engineered fish, it should require the fish to be labeled!
The public has only 60 days to comment on this misguided and dangerous action..
Loaded with protein, omega 3’s and life-giving amino acids, this hearty and delicious soup has just a few carefully selected ingredients. Perfect fare on a cold winter’s eve..
Peel and cut 1 medium Yukon gold potato into 1/2-inch dice. Place in a pot and barely cover with light chicken (or fish, vegetable) stock and bring to a low boil. Cook until the stock has thickened with potato starch and the potatoes are very nearly done. Turn off the heat and keep warm.
Cut a couple of thick slices of hardwood smoked bacon into 1-inch lengths and cook over medium-low heat until the fat has rendered and the bacon is crisp. Transfer the bacon to a side dish to drain, leaving the fat in the pan.
Add about 1 cup each of diced yellow onions, diced carrots and bias-cut celery to the pan with the bacon fat and cook without browning until al dente.
Meanwhile, remove the skin from 6 or 8 ounces of wild Alaskan salmon filets, tear into large chunks and set aside.
Add the potatoes and their cooking water to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the salmon and 1/2 cup of heavy cream to the pan, stir and simmer until the base has thickened and the salmon is just cooked through, about 8 minutes.
Add chopped fresh parsley and a squeeze of fresh Meyer lemon juice and stir to combine. Simmer for one last minute, then season to taste with freshly-ground black pepper.
Ladle soup into warm bowls, top with pieces of bacon and finish with a few flakes of black sea salt.
Chef Freddie Bitsoie Recommends a Cross-Cultural Celebration of Native Regional Winter Recipes (indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com)
Dating to the Middle Ages when Nordic fishermen salted and lightly fermented fresh-caught salmon by burying it in the sand above the high-tide line, Gravad Lax (gravlax) is prized to this day for its delicate, briny flavor. Quite expensive to purchase at retail, but dead simple to make at home using only 5 ingredients..
Dill Pollen Gravad Lax
Sustainable and among the safest remaining species in terms of mercury and PCBs, wild Alaskan salmon is a good source of Thiamin, Riboflavin and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Protein, Niacin, Vitamin B12 and Selenium. Think of it as gourmet grizzly bear food!
1 pound fresh, wild Alaskan salmon (skin on or off, pinbones removed)
2 tablespoons fine sea salt
2 tablespoons organic, pure cane sugar
1 tablespoon dill pollen (more flavorful than the traditionally-used fresh dill)
1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
Combine the salt, sugar, dill and pepper together in a bowl. Lay out a sheet of plastic wrap on a flat surface, then place enough salt mixture down to match the size of the salmon at a depth of about 3/8 inch. Position the salmon on top, then spread the remainder of the salt on the exposed surfaces to a similar depth.
Tightly wrap the package as it is, then wrap the entire bundle one more time. Place the wrapped salmon on a dish or inside of a plastic bag to catch the juices, then refrigerate for 48-72 hours, turning once half way through.
Unwrap the salmon, rinse away the salt under cold, running water and blot lightly. To use, simply slice the salmon thinly on a bias and serve on top of a bagel with cream cheese, or in a French omelet, perhaps.
As it was last year, the commercial salmon fishery south of the Canadian border will be closed in 2009. The cause is not over-fishing, but the failure of young salmon to survive long enough to leave their natal streams and enter the ocean.
Barry Estabrook, Gourmet Magazine
“At the very least, there was something fishy about Alaska Governor (and Vice Presidential hopeful) Sarah Palin’s decision to speak out publicly against the state’s Clean Water Initiative late last month. There may also be something blatantly illegal about her advocacy for defeating the ballot initiative, which ultimately failed to pass when 57 percent of Alaskans voted against it.
A bit of background. The Clean Water Initiative (aka Ballot Measure 4) was put in place to restrict the amount of arsenic and other toxic pollutants that new, large-scale mines could dump into the state’s waterways. Its stated goal was to protect human health and safeguard salmon that use the rivers and streams to spawn. More specifically, it was aimed at a massive gold and copper operation called Pebble Mine located directly upstream of Bristol Bay, site of one of the world’s largest and most sustainable wild salmon fisheries, which produced 31 million pounds of king, sockeye, and chum salmon in 2007.