Fish is a mealtime favorite not only for its great taste, but for its versatility. With limitless options for preparation, the countless varieties of fish can be enjoyed in the heat of summertime or the chilly holiday season. But what often slips our mind is where in the world our fish favorites come from prior to reaching our table.
Our Seafood Merchandiser, Marty Gaul, recently traveled to the Patagonia region of Chile, home of the Verlasso Salmon farm, to get a behind- the-scenes look into the lives of one of our favorite fish varieties. They came back with a wealth of knowledge.
We asked Marty and her travel companion, Food and Lifestyle Strategist, Jennifer Bushman, what makes Verlasso unique. Their response? It is the sustainable practices that make Verlasso salmon one of the best in taste and quality.
So what does it mean to practice sustainability on a salmon farm? At Verlasso, it means being a leader in aquaculture, or in other words, treating the fish ethically and humanely with state-of-the-art living conditions.
Providing an industry-leading environment begins with the perfect location. The Verlasso farm, made up of 98% water, is located so far south in the Patagonia region of Chile that it requires both a puddle-jumper plane and a boat to visit. The remote location of this farm isolates Verlasso from other salmon farms, allowing the fish space to swim.
Photograph by Darrell Rodriguez
Because of the expansive and isolated region where the farm is located, the pens in which the salmon live have very low densities. This means that they are not overcrowded. In fact, each of the eight pens on the Verlasso farm has a ratio of three fish to every one cubic ton of water.
Within these spacious pens are cameras and feeding ropes that work in tandem to monitor and feed the fish in the most sustainable way for both the animals and the environment. The cameras, located at the top of the pens, watch the salmon as they surface for feeding. The ropes that lie in the water are then triggered to release food, and when the fish retreat to the bottom the release stops. The feed itself is even environmentally sustainable in that it is designed to “puff up” and float in the water, thus reducing waste and accumulation at the bottom of the pens. It is even safe for human consumption! Our associates got to try it for themselves, and described the taste as a mix of algae and seaweed.
For the farmers at Verlasso, farming salmon is not simply a job, it is a lifestyle. The men and women at Verlasso live on a multi-story houseboat on the farm for 10 days at a time to monitor and care for the salmon. Bushman says, the salmon on the Verlasso farm are monitored and cared for similarly-to how we would treat a house pet or a land animal at the zoo. It is this commitment to the ethical treatment of the fish that solidifies Verlasso’s reputation as a leader in the industry.
So, the next time you add Verlasso Salmon to your grocery cart, you can rest assured that your fish is of the highest quality both in taste and in sustainability. And if you are looking to make salmon over the holidays, our friends at Verlasso have come up with seven delicious dishes that are sure to please everyone around the table.