Cooking with ingredients like fish, mussels and clams may seem intimidating, but considering that Santa Barbara is one of California’s most abundant sources of marine life, it would be a shame if you never took a full dive into incorporating fresh seafood into your diet. Thankfully, the people at Get Hooked Seafood, a community-supported fishery program, are here to help you achieve a healthier and more environmentally-friendly diet.
Get Hooked Seafood was founded by Kim Selkoe and Victoria Voss, who formed their team of UCSB alumni to work with local fishermen in order to provide access to local sustainable seafood for the community. They have both had an interest in the ocean throughout their lives and decided that they wanted to take a more practical and educational approach to work with fishermen and restaurants make choices about their seafood. They’ve partnered up with the Commercial Fishermen of Santa Barbara and Real Good Fish CSF in Moss Landing to bring fresh seafood to their members at various pick-up locations in the Santa Barbara and Ventura areas. Get Hooked Seafood wants you to “feel directly connected to your community and your food source,” according to Voss. “When you eat our seafood you don’t just have a piece of fish on your plate. You know exactly who caught it, the methods used to catch it and information about the species.”
What makes Get Hooked Seafood different from simply buying fish at a grocery store or subscribing to meal prep delivery services is that the processing methods as well as the meat itself is more sustainable and healthier for your body. Eating seafood is a small way to make a difference in the environment because it has a smaller carbon footprint than other animal proteins, such as beef or chicken, since fishing wild-caught seafood does not require farmland or taking care of livestock. Get Hooked Seafood also uses significantly less packaging than typical delivery services and grocery stores, as members simply pick up their seafood in one plastic bag from an ice chest at their pick-up locations. Additionally, traceability is a huge issue in the seafood industry, as opportunities for fraud are increasing and as a result, grocery stores and restaurants may serve fish that is not actually the species that is advertised. Get Hooked Seafood is a solution for that because they collaborate with local fishermen fishing out of the Santa Barbara Channel, so you know that the seafood on your plate is fresh and genuine. Additionally, since the fish is fresh from the coast, it hasn’t travelled thousands of miles to get processed overseas, which lessens the environmental impacts of the seafood and retains the freshness of the fish. Seafood in a packaged box from grocery stores is usually older and has to be eaten the day after purchase, whereas Get Hooked fish is so fresh that people can cook it days later without compromising the freshness of the meat.
In addition to the environmental benefits of eating seafood, incorporating seafood into your diet is also a quick and easy way to eat healthy. Fish is packed with important nutrients such as vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, which are crucial for optimal body and brain function and strongly linked to a reduced risk of many diseases. Fish is also considered one of the most heart-healthy foods, as it is strongly linked to a lower risk of heart disease and strokes. It’s important to think about the long-term effects of what you are putting into your body, and seafood definitely has great health benefits.
Despite these great environmental and health benefits, some are often turned off by seafood because they have the misconception that seafood is difficult to prepare and cook. This is not true at all and this misunderstanding may come from the fact that people are simply unfamiliar with seafood. In reality, cooking with seafood is actually very convenient, as you don’t have to marinate it and it can be baked or fried, just like other types of protein. It’s also great for those who are short on time. The recipes that Get Hooked Seafood provides on their website for their fish only take 15 minutes at the most, and they’ve conveniently included a few recipes per species. Additionally, there is a great diversity of seafood options from Get Hooked. Santa Barbara has the advantage of cold water climate from north and warm water climate from the south, which brings bring tropical and cold water species to give a great abundance of seafood types. This allows you to be adventurous by trying new and different seafood varieties, but you can also opt out of some types of seafood if you just want to stick to the basics.
The way Get Hooked Seafood works is that you simply select the quantity of fish you want, choose between whole or filleted fish, pick a weekly or bi-weekly schedule and then find a pick-up location that is convenient for you. This fall, Get Hooked is coming to Isla Vista to expand their services. Members will be able to pick up their seafood from the Isla Vista Co-op, making this a super convenient option for students to eat more healthy and environmentally-friendly.