The Ocean’s Healthy Harvest
Small-Boat Fishing is Good for the Community
Seafood is an often overlooked source of sustainable food that is as seasonal and natural as produce, says Jared Auerbach, founder of Boston-based seafood wholesaler Red’s Best. “And it’s also one of the few natural resources that can still be harvested by small businesses,” he says. “Small-boat fishing is, ecologically, the best way to harvest the ocean—it’s best for the ecology, best for the business community and best for the quality of the fish.”
Auerbach grew up in the Boston area and started out in the fishing industry as a commercial fisherman. In the early 2000s, he saw that industrial technology was starting to challenge traditional fishing communities. He founded Red’s Best in 2006 to support small-boat fishermen in New England and bring the freshest local seafood to consumers.
“Helping people make a living with the Earth, feeding and growing their families and being connected to their communities is such a beautiful, amazing thing,” he says. “Seafood is a fresh, abundant, clean and renewable resource. We just have to be smart about how, when and what we harvest.
“This resource will always be there for us. What’s better than something that comes out of the fast-moving, cold currents of our ocean? There aren’t any chemicals and it’s all-natural.” Auerbach says that he feels really good about harvesting fish naturally, and feeding his family and community with that fish. “Honestly, I’m shocked at how clean our oceans are, and how healthy and abundant the fish are, even right around Boston. In many areas, the supply actually outweighs the demand, so we’re under-fishing them.”
Auerbach and his team help streamline fishermen’s daily tasks and adherence to regulations. They also developed proprietary web-based software that tracks the journey of each fish from ocean to table. Daily catches are logged from the time they are unloaded at Boston Harbor to refrigerated trucks, and to filleting and packaging. The seafood is then distributed to restaurants, retailers and other wholesalers and is also available directly to consumers at Red’s Best seafood market and online store. Labeling with special QR codes provides the story of each catch, including who caught the fish, where and how.
But even the most sophisticated software can’t predict the catch of the day because fishing, like farming, has seasonal cycles. Auerbach says it can be a challenge to deliver the species restaurants may want for the next day’s menu. “But that’s just how nature works,” he says. “We have to honor what it gives us, and that’s actually the beauty of it.”
The second week in August has been tabbed Local Seafood Week as part of the first annual Massachusetts Eat Local Month, and will kick off with a tour of Red’s Best on Monday, August 7. The campaign, running throughout August, has been organized by the Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts (SBN) through grant funding from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, and will feature a mouth-watering variety of activities each week, from contests and giveaways to “Meet the Farmer” nights, farm tours, a film screening and, of course, lots of opportunities to sample a wealth of foods, products and services local to Boston and its surrounding communities. The last week of August is Eat Local Week, when participating restaurants will offer special menus featuring locally sourced ingredients.
To learn more about Red’s Best and its farmers’ market, visit RedsBest.com. Learn more about Eat Local Month at BostonLocalFood.com. Restaurants interested in participating in Eat Local Week can apply at SBNMass.org.