Podcast Episode #192: Sustainability & Seafood with Randy Hartnell of Vital Choice

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BB_PC_square-192Topics:
1.  Introducing our guest, Randy Hartnell from Vital Choice [1:45] 2. Farmed versus wild caught salmon [6:18] 3. Recommendations for quality fish on a budget [14:58] 4. Safety in eating seafood [19:41] 5. The quality of the Vital Choice brand [31:39] 6. The Breach movie [40:57] 7. Diane’s Kitchen tip: cooking seafood [44:29] 8. This week in the Paleosphere/Shout Out: #Dianessaladmadness [47:50]

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Liz Wolfe: We’d like to thank Vital Choice for supporting our podcast today, and we encourage you to visit their online store at vitalchoice.com. You’ll find an amazing array of some of the world’s best seafood, including wild Alaskan salmon, halibut, tuna and cod, as well as sustainably harvested shellfish. These foods are not only delicious, but vital choices for your health. You’ll also find grass-fed organic Wagyu beef, live fermented foods to promote gut health, wild organic blueberries, and dark organic chocolates. Eat better, think better, and feel better with deeply nourishing foods from Vital Choice. They’re offering our listeners 15% off any order using code BALANCEDBITES. Remember that orders of $99 or more ship free.

1. Introducing our guest, Randy Hartnell from Vital Choice [1:45]

Diane Sanfilippo: So welcome back, Randy to the show. I know we had a bunch of interview clips with you before in past episodes, but I wanted to bring you back to have a little bit longer time to chat about seafood sustainability and all related topics. How are you doing today?

Randy Hartnell: Thanks Diane, I’m doing great. Happy to be back, talking about my favorite subject.

Diane Sanfilippo: I was really enjoying our interviews before, and I kept feeling like, oh I wish I could have him talk forever about this, so I wanted to get you back on so we could let you kind of have the stage and let it rip. So, you’re from Vital Choice, obviously, and I’d love to have you tell our listeners a little bit about how you got started with the company.

Randy Hartnell: Sure. I was a commercial fisherman in Alaska for many years. I started going up there when I was a college student making my way through college, and I had originally planned to go to graduate school, law school, and basically fell in love with fishing in Alaska. It was just such a physical, primal kind of experience going up there. Really beautiful. I fell in love with that, so after I got my bachelor’s degree I decided, rather than going to grad school, I decided to keep fishing, and I ended up buying my own boats, hiring my own crews, and just continued to do that. I became a full time commercial fisherman for many years. It was a great livelihood, until the late 1990s.

What happened then is farmed salmon came on the world market in a big way. Consumers weren’t discriminating between wild and farmed salmon. All they knew was that farmed salmon was cheaper and way more plentiful. We essentially lost our markets in a very short period of time. So I was in the uncomfortable position of having basically what amounted to a PhD in catching fish that was worth absolutely nothing.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Randy Hartnell: As was my entire industry, so we had to go find something else to do. Through a long roundabout way, I realized that there were people out there who did understand the difference between wild and farmed salmon, and understood how superior wild salmon was in a number of ways, but couldn’t have access to it. So I started shipping our salmon to people, and that eventually evolved into Vital Choice. Now we ship a wide variety of high quality Alaskan seafood, and seafood from other areas as well.

We are passionate about sustainability, passionate about quality, and basically addressing people’s concerns about seafood.

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s such an interesting story. I don’t know if ever got to tell you this, but I have another podcast that I started called Build a Badass Business. I’m going to be interviewing some folks all about their businesses. It’s fun for me to hear the roots of a company, because you turned something from what essentially could have been a marketing nightmare where, all of a sudden people didn’t know the difference.

And it wasn’t an issue of the market isn’t there, it really was an issue of the marketing and figuring out how to communicate what you had to people who may be wanted it and knew that they wanted it once you educated them on the difference, which that’s part of what we’re continuing to do today. Obviously our listeners are very keen to the fact that wild caught fish is a superior product, and a superior food nutritionally to farmed fish, but that’s something that I find really interesting as an entrepreneur.

I’m sure when you had your “PhD” in commercial fishing, I’m sure there were a lot of naysayers and friends and family that were just maybe didn’t believe in your mission, and I’m psyched for you that this whole thing became such a huge amazing company. So kudos to you for that.

Randy Hartnell: Well thank you. That was a 2 minute description of something that was actually a couple of years of very…

Diane Sanfilippo: Always, right? Yeah it’s always a blip, and people say, oh they came out of nowhere! Actually, we were somewhere for quite some time.

Randy Hartnell: Anybody who starts a business, because you do have to climb a wall of naysayers.

Diane Sanfilippo: Exactly.

Randy Hartnell: You have to have that vision. So it’s turned out very well.

2. Farmed versus wild caught salmon [6:18]

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s what separates people, too, is to have the vision and the drive, and you just keep going. So you touched on the fact that in the late 90s the farmed salmon industry; and I feel like I remember that. I was probably, I don’t know, in my early 20s at the time, but I remember seeing there’s one salmon that’s really inexpensive versus this other one when I would go to the grocery store. Or maybe my mom was bringing home seafood for a family dinner, whatever it was, and there would be this choice to make.

So can you talk a little bit about what’s going on with farmed salmon versus the wild in terms of maybe the sustainability issues in terms of the impacts that are happening there, but then also from the health perspective. So kind of from both sides of that. Again, our listeners are interested in it for their personal health but also sustainability. I don’t know if you know this, but we recently had a huge paleo conference down in Austin, Texas, called PaleoFx, and sustainability is really kind of at the forefront of what everybody is thinking about right now because just getting ripped is {laughs} it’s not that interesting a topic to most of us teaching this stuff anymore. So we’re really interested in getting people healthier with the right nutrition, but also what can we do about our choices to spend our dollars the right way on the right food.

Randy Hartnell: You bet. The thing about Alaskan salmon is it is just so well managed, it’s actually a model for the world. They’ve built their fisheries around a sustainability platform, and basically what that means is for 50 years now, ever since statehood, they’ve been managing their fisheries from a scientific, sustainable perspective. Alaskan salmon was the first fishery to be certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, which is the gold standard of dozens of dozens NGOs that concern themselves with seafood sustainability.

So when I was starting the company and trying to educate people about why they should chose wild salmon, it was only natural that I would focus to a large extent on sustainability. So that was built right into the DNA of our company. We were one of the first Marine Stewardship licensees back in 2000.

The Marine Stewardship Council has continued to grow. They’ve certified McDonald’s fish, and you’ll find Marine Stewardship Council in Wal-Mart and Target and so it’s really been a very successful program. The good news is that has translated into putting more pressure onto fisheries that are not responsible, and basically rewarding fisheries that are doing a good job. So you’re seeing fisheries stabilize and rebound all over the world. It’s a very positive development.

The thing about farmed salmon is it’s kind of the other end of the spectrum. Just as every environmental organization promote wild salmon, or Alaskan wild salmon as one of the most sustainable, super green foods you could possibly choose, farmed salmon, I’d say 99% of it, is over in the red/avoid column. Because there are so many adverse environmental impacts to it from the fact that it takes way more fish to raise a pound of farmed salmon than is produced, 3-5 pounds of wild seafood or fish have to be rendered into pellets and fed to farmed salmon for each pound produced. So from that standpoint, it’s a net loss in protein.

The environmental impacts of the farms themselves is really a disaster to the local ecosystems. If you go over to Norway where salmon farming really started, and they are the major corporate interest behind salmon farming, they own a lot of the salmon farms around the world, you’ll find that where they’ve had their salmon farms, the wild salmon are basically extinct, or nearly so. So for those of us who are concerned about wild salmon, seeing salmon farms placed along their migratory paths is frightening, and that’s happening a lot, in British Columbia especially.

Diane Sanfilippo: It sounds pretty similar to folks who might be raising cattle on green pasture, and then seeing feed lots kind of taking over some areas, and what that does. Not only to the animals but to the land itself.

Randy Hartnell: Yeah, that’s and excellent analogy. It’s very much like grass fed versus feed lot. In fact, a lot of farmed salmon are now being fed grains, corn and soybean products, for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s a lot cheaper than fish meal, and second of all it doesn’t have the contaminants in it that you end up with when you render fish into little pellets. One of the charges against farmed salmon is it tends to have a considerably higher contaminant loads than wild seafood. So to address that, the farmers are trying to feed it less of that fish meal. Switching over to a nutritional standpoint, the result is you end up with farmed salmon that don’t have as many omega-3s or they have the omega-3s, but they have a lot more omega-6s that come from the grains. But that’s a whole other subject.

Diane Sanfilippo: It’s so interesting. So is it true that a lot of farmed salmon is actually dyed a pink color? That’s something I’ve heard, and I like to ask a source that I might trust.

Randy Hartnell: Wild salmon are out ranging in the open ocean, and they’re eating krill and plankton and algae that contain this carotenoid called astaxanthin, and that’s what gives the salmon flesh the pink or red-orange color. Farmed salmon don’t get that, and so it has to be supplemented in their diet.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} it’s like a spray tan, but worse. If you’re not getting vitamin D, you might want to spray tan. This is worse. {laughs} Sorry, I’m such a goof ball sometimes, but I’m kind of nodding my head along. That makes so much sense that it is what they’re eating that’s creating that bright color in the salmon. I’ve seen astaxanthin supplements even, and they’re that deep color. That reddish color.

Randy Hartnell: An interesting distinction is that the supplements are generally from the actual algae.

Diane Sanfilippo: Mm-hmm.

Randy Hartnell: It’s called a Haematococcus pluvialis. There’s a company in Hawaii and there are other companies that grow this algae that produces the astaxanthin. That’s identical to what the salmon are getting in the wild. The problem is, that’s relatively expensive, so salmon farmers have figured out a way to produce a synthetic version of that from petrochemicals that is not exactly the same molecular; it’s not identical. That’s a whole other subject we don’t need to go into right now.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Randy Hartnell: Anyway, it’s all about, just like any feedlot of industrial food, it’s all about driving out costs, right? Getting the price down as low as you can possibly get it. These are just some of the hidden costs of doing that.

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3. Recommendations for quality fish on a budget [14:58]

Diane Sanfilippo: Obviously, we focus on the idea of wild caught fish being nutritionally superior. And we do know that there is a cost involved with that that’s prohibitive to some people, and I believe we talked about this before. What is your, before we get into a lot more of the kind of hot topics and questions on this stuff, what’s your overarching recommendations to somebody who feels like budget is a concern for them? Would it be to eat as much fish as they can and get the high quality when they can, or would it be to get the high quality and maybe a little bit lower amounts? Getting some of the less expensive stuff, but have it a little bit less often rather than more often and having the farmed less healthy form of it? What would you say about that?

Randy Hartnell: You know, there’s such a huge difference in different types of fish. I’m not across the board opposed to aquaculture, or fish farming. I think shellfish, oysters, clams, mussels, and other types of aquaculture are definitely not only good but necessary. It’s the farmed salmon in particular that’s a problem. But as far as your question goes, nutrient density is sort of the metric by which we rate the value of food, and there really isn’t much anything out there that’s any more nutrient dense than wild salmon. So I would say, start with wild salmon, the bang for your buck is going to be about as high as it can be.

I think one of the most, probably the most nutrient dense, cost effective foods in most supermarkets is canned wild sockeye salmon, or pink salmon. Both of those are almost in all cases of Alaskan origin, so you can be sure that it’s wild and not farmed. There’s nothing that goes into that can except fresh salmon, and maybe a little bit of salt. Usually it’s relatively inexpensive. One problem is the quality could be inconsistent. Fish that are harvested, caught in Alaska, are caught in a lot of different ways, a lot of different regions. If it’s a big day, it may take the fish a long time to get through the processing line, so the quality may suffer a little bit. So you end up with this spectrum of quality grades, that’s priced accordingly, so a lot of stores don’t really distinguish the quality of one can of wild salmon over another, so they’ll just go for the cheapest they can find. So for your listeners that may have tried canned salmon and had a negative experience, don’t give up on it.

What we do at Vital Choice, we know the smoke and mirrors that are used to sell inferior grade product, so we go to suppliers who put the best fish in the can. We’re constantly hearing from people that are just amazed at how tasty our canned salmon is. So that’s a great solution for people that are on a budget. Ours is going to be a little more than what you would find in grocery stores, but the quality is going to be so good, that you’ll actually eat it and not be turned off to it.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} And not waste it. You wouldn’t believe how many people tell me, not as much about salmon, often about sardines or something of that nature, that they’ve had a can sitting in their pantry for who knows how long. And they’re like, it’s just staring at me, every time I open the pantry. I’m like, just eat the thing! {laughs} Eat the sardines.

Randy Hartnell: Yeah, I’m glad you mentioned sardines, because they’re right there up there, as well. They’re extremely nutrient dense, and again it comes down to quality. As we’ve talked about before, the quality can have a lot to do with the oils that are added, a lot of inexpensive canned fish, in tuna, sardines, they’ll add soybean oil or cheap vegetable oils to add flavor and maybe to overcome poor quality. So you find a good quality canned fish like sardines or tuna, salmon, whatever, it’s generally a pretty good value.

Tuna is a whole other topic that we can go into if you want. But sardines are generally a great relatively inexpensive source of these marine nutrients, omega-3 fats.

4. Safety in eating seafood [19:41]

Diane Sanfilippo: Awesome. So why don’t we talk a little bit about some of the sort of hot topics around seafood. I know one of them you like to talk about a lot is purity, and maybe purity and safety, because I think people get kind of, I don’t know, confused or maybe they’re a little nervous to eat seafood when we tell them, we want you to eat your wild caught fish that has omega-3 fatty acids. I personally don’t take or recommend a supplement from it, I just think it’s better to get it from your food. It’s a better way to know what your body needs, because your body can extract from the food what it might need versus, if you’re dousing your body with an anti-inflammatory consistently; it’s just not something I believe in as a core value. But I think sometimes people are afraid to eat too much seafood because they’re kind of scared, whether it’s a media story or who knows what about fish and issues around healthfulness or any kind of purity or safety. So can you talk a little bit about that.

Randy Hartnell: You bet. That’s a great question. A lot of people are afraid of fish. We all know that the media likes to focus on the scary things. Just up front I want to recommend a book to anybody that’s interested about this, it’s called Hardwiring Happiness, by a neurologist named Rick Hanson. It came out last year, I believe. The thing that’s fascinating about that is he talks about how we’re all walking around with these stone aged brains, and he says our brains are like Velcro for bad news and Teflon for good news.

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s so interesting.

Randy Hartnell: The media plays on this all the time, right? If we see good news it kind of goes in one ear and out the other, or kind of ignored. It doesn’t really register. If you see a headline that says the pacific ocean is contaminated with radiation, boy that’s really scary, and you wouldn’t believe how many people aren’t eating fish now because they’ve seen these headlines, and they don’t bother to go into the facts of it. Even when the facts are presented, it just doesn’t hold up against sort of that neural trace that is laid down in our brains.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, that’s really interesting, actually. I think, it just kind of made me think, I think our society is hard wired to be very fear based and fear driven in a lot of things.

Randy Hartnell: Mm-hmm.

Diane Sanfilippo: It’s just kind of one of them; I deal with people being afraid of so many things all the time whether it’s our nutrition or medical system or just the way people choose to live their lives every day. I just think that’s a really interesting point about how our brains work and how we’re wired.

Randy Hartnell: It really is.

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s a really good one. It does stick with people, like you said. They see something on the news; well I heard this is really bad for you! And you’re like, well you forgot the part about how it’s actually better for you than it is bad for you. {laughs}

Randy Hartnell: Yeah, it goes into it in detail and really it has changed the way I look at the world. You just see how we’re being played all the time. Anyway, back to seafood. So if you look at the facts, there are essentially no peer reviewed studies out there linking mercury, methyl mercury, in commonly available seafood to toxicity, in spite of, you know many people are surprised to hear that. It’s just the contrary; if you look at the countries, the populations around the world that eat the most seafood, they tend to be the healthiest. Look at Japan, they eat many times the amount of seafood that Americans eat, and they live longer, they have lower infant mortality, lower incidences of different chronic diseases.

If you look at the biggest most robust studies, long-term scientific studies that have looked at this, there’s one in the UK called the Alspac study that started 20 years ago looking at 14,000 mother-infant pairs, and they’ve been studying them ever since. Scores of endpoints that they’re looking at, and when they started this study, they assumed the mom’s who had eaten the most seafood during pregnancy would have kids with the most developmental problems.

Two or three years ago, four years ago, the Lancet published a finding that it was just the opposite. The mom’s that ate the least seafood had the children with the most developmental problems, and the ones that ate the most seafood had kids that did the best. And there was no upper end of benefit, so the more fish the mom’s ate, the better off the children were. And that was replicated in the Seychelles islands, again another long-term study where people eat literally 10 to 20 times as much seafood as the average American.

Diane Sanfilippo: Wow.

Randy Hartnell: You would assume these kids, I think there were 7-800 mother-infant pairs there. You would assume, my god if mercury is toxic, and there are people out there telling others to avoid fish. If it was really toxic, how would these moms who are eating fish every day, many times a week, have such healthy kids? Those are the facts if you really dig into it. And it’s really good news.

Diane Sanfilippo: I think that’s really interesting, too. I spoke with Dr. Amy Myers, I spoke with her probably just a couple of months ago, and we were talking about heavy metal burden, heavy metal toxicity, and things like that, and she was mentioning how really one of the issues, and this is obviously expanding beyond directly from seafood, people are getting toxicity from heavy metals, mercury for example, from their dental amalgams.

A lot of the issue is not as much even the trace amounts that might come into our system, it’s the body’s ability or inability to detoxify them and part of what, I think you had talked about when we spoke previously, is the selenium value of a lot of seafood, and I know if anyone wants to read more about this I know Chris Kresser has written about this a bunch, but the nutrients that our body needs to help balance those things, to help detoxify, and to just kind of keep us running smoothly, that stuff is also present in the seafood. And, if somebody has a very specific issue with a heavy metal burden, that’s a whole other ball of wax. That’s not exactly your average person .if you have that issue, then that’s something that needs to be addressed. But it’s not something that everybody should be thinking and concerned about.

I think that’s just the whole scare tactic thing; I’m not really into the whole alarmist headline, I don’t really watch the news or read the news because I mostly think it’s not good news {laughs} so I stay away from it. But I think that’s really great for people to know about. Even, especially in this modern world of social media and the snippets of things that go by on somebody’s Facebook feed or Instagram or wherever it is and somebody is trying to scare somebody about something, right, with a headline. That stuff drives me nuts. So thank you for clearing that up.

Randy Hartnell: There are a lot of agendas out there. There’s the vegan community that are trying to dissuade people from consuming fish, so they really fan the flames of fear around the contaminate issue. There are supplement companies that don’t want you to eat fish because they’d rather you buy their supplements. There are a lot of well meaning doctors out there who have just not bothered to look at the science. I had a conversation with somebody I’ve known a long time, Dr. Mark Hyman, who’s pretty well known.

Diane Sanfilippo: Mm-hmm. Yeah, I’m sure our listeners are familiar with him.

Randy Hartnell: Yeah, and he’s hypersensitive to this whole subject, and I’ve heard him tell people, just do not eat fish because of this issue. Well, I was talking to him this last week, and he said, this is for real. I had mercury poisoning, I know how bad it can be. And I said, did you get it from seafood, and he said, no I got it when I was in China from all the pollution. And I think that’s one thing that people don’t know better to do, is to distinguish the various forms of mercury. You mentioned dental amalgams, pollution, a lot of the most severe mercury poisoning events come from industrial accidents where people were exposed to massive doses.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.

Randy Hartnell: But you mentioned selenium, which is a sort of natural antidote to methyl mercury, and seafood is one of the best sources for that. So that can explain why people can eat seafood, get trace levels of mercury. Actually high levels, if they’re eating enough seafood, and still not suffer toxic effects. There is a natural sort of genetic variation, everybody is different, and there are people who don’t process it as well. And Mark admitted he’s one of those people.

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s so crazy, because I do think it’s important for people to share their story and make sure people know what’s going on, but to not have the whole story, and again scare people away from something that they could really need in their life. I think the message there with any of that, and this is true of any nutrient that we’re either getting enough of or not or we’re getting too much of or something potentially toxic that isn’t toxic in other quantities, the poison is in the dose. It’s always that way with certain things like this where these trace amounts, it can be totally negligible, not important, or even higher amounts as you said, and for some people not make a difference at all and for some people it makes a difference so I just think it’s important for people to be educated on the topics.

Typically, I think that’s the issue, as you mentioned. People just don’t know what the story is, but they hear something that might be frightening, and they say, ok forget it, I’m not going to do that. Unfortunately what happens with the way media is today, is that people are being scared away from eating everything. You know?

Randy Hartnell: That’s true.

Diane Sanfilippo: Whether that’s seafood or red meat or egg yolks or…

Randy Hartnell: Look at the whole fat fear.

Diane Sanfilippo: Fat! And then we talk about sugar, and people take that down to being afraid of fruit and all kinds of carbohydrates. It’s like, literally we’re left with nothing to eat! {laughs}

Randy Hartnell: That’s why I love Michael Pollan.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.

Randy Hartnell: He’s got a good common sense approach.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, he’s definitely one of the first that I read. I remember I read Omnivore’s Dilemma, probably really early on into my self-nutrition studies. This was before I was enrolled in the holistic nutrition program, and I read Omnivore’s Dilemma on a vacation, because obviously that’s beach reading for most people. {laughs} And I felt the same way, I like his common sense approach. I think people get too caught up in nutritionism, they get too caught up in, some of what you were talking about with studies that help to support this information about eating fish not being unhealthy, great to have that study. But people get too caught up in a study about a real, whole food being harmful, and then they follow that. Instead of letting real, whole food being innocent until proven guilty. You know what I mean? {laughs} it’s like they’re demonizing all this stuff. I’m like, alright, well you’ll be left with nothing to eat.

Randy Hartnell: {laughs}

5. The quality of the Vital Choice brand [31:39]

Diane Sanfilippo: And I’ll see you on the other side, and we’ll just keep going. Alright, so let’s jump into a little bit about what’s going on in terms of difference between maybe what kind of quality and what kind of products people might find from Vital Choice, for example. Obviously that’s your company, and I’m glad people are getting tons of information. This isn’t really just about your company, so it’s great. I think people can really take what they’re learning today and kind of make it work.

What’s the difference between what they’re going to find from you guys, and then what’s out there generally in the grocery store. Maybe the good and bad, and as you mentioned, you did already say the canned salmon they can get some ok stuff and not be worried that it’s not good for them or something like that. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Randy Hartnell: Well, first and foremost, the difference is that I had that long experience as a fisherman in Alaska, so I understand that you want to get fish from this place versus that place, or this fishery versus that fishery, or this boat versus that boat. Fish is such a perishable food, right? All these different factors can impact the quality of the food. We basically source the very best product we can get. And frankly, there’s not a lot of competition for it.

Because it’s more expensive, and most of the seafood, as I may have said earlier, most of the best seafood is going offshore because Europeans, Asians, even China now are willing to pay top dollar. They understand the incredible nutritional value of Alaskan seafood. And they’re willing to pay top dollar for it. Unfortunately Americans don’t. We’re not big seafood eaters in this country.

We can get cheap catfish, cheap tilapia, cheap imported shrimp, probably one of the least sustainable foods on the planet. And that’s good enough. So we’re exporting our best quality homegrown fish, and we’re importing all this stuff that, well nutrient density is not that great.

So what Vital Choice does, the Vital Choice family, myself, my brother, my sister, they all work for the family. My nephew still goes to Alaska. We still have an intimate relationship with the fishery. We source fish that we want to eat. It’s sort of a golden rule approach; we don’t buy anything that we aren’t willing to feed ourselves and our kids and our employees children. And that’s been a formula that’s worked really well. When you’re going to put frozen product in a box, and you’re going to ship it to somebody across the country, and obviously that costs something, it’s not cheap. It better be good, it better be a positive experience. And nothing betrays poor handling, poor quality, more than fish. We’ve all smelled rancid fish, tasted rancid fish, and our company wouldn’t have lasted very long if we were sending that kind of product to people.

So the answer to your question, first and foremost quality. We’re just passionate about quality. We’ll pay whatever we have to get the best quality. In a couple of cases, Vital Choice is just about the only place in the country you can find certain species, because it’s all going off shore. Or the quality grades are all going off shore. A good example is wild shrimp. I mentioned the massive amounts of wild shrimp that are coming in, and we’re exporting these beautiful wild spot prawns to Asia, and the fisherman is getting $20-22 a pound for these shrimp, so by the time we buy those, put our margin on them, they’re very expensive compared to what’s out there.

So you really have to understand the difference, appreciate the difference to be willing to pay for that. But we’re not going to import, we’re not going to bring in, just to get the price down, we’re not going to bring in inexpensive products.

Diane Sanfilippo: I think that’s important for people to understand. One thing that comes to mind is sort of the nutrient density per dollar, in a way. If you’re spending fewer dollars, but you’re not getting the same nutrition, you’re not really getting more from your money. So just because you get a pound for the price of half a pound or whatever it may be from you guys, if the nutrient density is that much higher, what your body is actually getting from that food is more for the money. You’re not getting more just because you’re getting more volume of the actual fish, so I think that’s one thing that people may not consider.

Randy Hartnell: Yeah. We talk a lot about, and Michael Pollan talks about this, it’s where I first heard the concept; the hidden cost of cheap food. Whether you’re talking about adverse health outcomes, all the antibiotics that are going into the meat and the farmed seafood, the damage to the environment, just a long list of hidden costs that go into creating cheap food.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.

Randy Hartnell: The poor wages; we’re basically sourcing fish from people that are making a living wage. It’s a food that humans have been eating for tens of thousands of years, and it costs more to get it and get it to people.

Diane Sanfilippo: Mm-hmm. Actually, that’s a really good point too. When it comes to sustainability, it’s not just the fishing practices and what’s happening in the water. What you just mentioned really sparked me; that the fishermen are being paid what they should be paid. I’m sure that’s an issue in any industry where people are not being paid as much as they should be for their work, and I’m somebody who definitely believes in that. I think at the end of the day, too, we in this country, tend to spend a lot less in terms of a percentage of our income on food than many other countries just around the world in terms of just looking at how much of our budget each month goes to food versus everything else.

I think that’s something, luckily the community that we speak to really understands this, but at the same time, everyone’s working to try and make it work in some way. Whether that’s no big deal for someone to come to a website like Vital Choice and make their purchase, or whether that is something that they’re saving for because they know it’s really important and they know it’s something they want to invest in in terms of investing in their health and investing in the quality food. But I think it takes it one step further when you say, you know what, I’m making this purchase and it’s supporting a family owned and operated business that also supports the vendors they work with. Everyone in that chain is having a positive experience, and I just think that’s a really good thing.

Diane Sanfilippo: We have a brand new sponsor who I’m super excited about. Joining us this month is Tin Star Foods Ghee. As any of you who have been following me on social media know, I’m a huge fan of the product. I don’t generally talk a lot about products that I’m not a big fan of, so I wanted to invite Tin Star to come on and be a sponsor. I’m really excited to introduce those of you who haven’t heard of it yet to this ghee.

For those of you who aren’t sure what ghee is, it’s clarified butter, so if you’re sensitive to dairy proteins, it’s a really good option. For people who are highly, highly allergic, it maybe for you, it maybe not. I know that Tin Star Ghee is certified as casein free as well as lactose free, but there are some folks who will always be sensitive. So if you’re a little bit borderline and you feel like you can handle a tiny bit, which that’s where I am at, I would definitely recommend it. I definitely don’t do well with butter, and the Tin Star Ghee is fantastic for me. Ghee has been clarified, so the dairy proteins are gone, and I have no problems with it whatsoever. It tastes fantastic, and it’s a very healthy cooking fat. It’s my number one go-to choice for cooking.

So if you’re looking for an alternative to something like coconut oil or other animal fats that have different types of flavors, ghee is a fantastic choice. I just used it this morning to scramble my eggs, and it’s one that I highly recommend. The flavor and texture of Tin Star Foods ghee is fantastic. I absolutely love Hima, who is the owner of the company. She is just a really hard working gal getting her company off the ground, and I love supporting her. So I’m excited to have them join us as a sponsor, so welcome Tin Star Foods Ghee.

You can save 15% off any ghee in your order from http://www.primalfoodpantry.com/, that’s the website. So anything that you add to the cart that is a ghee product, she’ll get 15% off for you there. The code is BALANCEDBITES, so check them out. http://www.primalfoodpantry.com/

6. The Breach movie [40:57]

Diane Sanfilippo: Alright, is there anything else you want to share with our listeners today? I think that was a fantastic amount of information, and I’m just really psyched to be able to share all of this with folks. You guys all know, just before we wrap up here with Randy, don’t forget we have a special offer from Vital Choice, always mentioned in the podcast so you guys can check that out, and hop over to BalancedBites.com so you can review whatever the offer is so you can make sure you don’t miss that. What else do you want to tell people today?

Randy Hartnell: Just a couple of things. I like to point people to our digital newsletter, which is a great source of information, and we’ve got a great archive, a thousand articles on all of these topics and many more, so I just point people to that.

I have a friend who has just recently produced a movie called the Breach, and it’s the story of wild salmon. It talks about to save wild salmon, we need to choose to eat it. It sounds kind of counterintuitive, but basically it tells a story about how when we choose wild salmon, when you go into your store and you select wild salmon, you're supporting the wild salmon industry, which is the chief defender of wild salmon. You can actually I think view that movie online, or at least a trailer, at http://www.thebreachfilm.com/.

Diane Sanfilippo: Awesome.

Randy Hartnell: It’s a beautiful movie. I recommend that to any of your listeners out there.

Diane Sanfilippo: Awesome. So that movie is going to talk a little about; I think one thing you had mentioned to me earlier too was people being concerned in terms of sustainability in terms of fishing out, whether we were hurting some of these species by eating too much of it. I think that movie sounds like it’s going to speak to the fact that that’s not the case.

Randy Hartnell: That’s right. It addresses a lot of issues. One of the biggest ones is competition for the habitat. One of the reasons Alaska has such fantastic fisheries is because the habitat is basically pristine. But there are mining interests, and oil drilling interest, and a lot of people that are trying to get at that habitat, and the biggest defense against those interests is the fishing industry, because they fight to protect the salmon. So a healthy and robust fishing industry is the best defense to make sure that our fisheries in Alaska don’t go the way of most of the others around the world.

Diane Sanfilippo: Awesome. Well thank you so much for spending some time with me today to talk about all of this. As a reminder, obviously everyone can visit VitalChoice.com and sign up for that email newsletter. I’ve received a whole bunch of them, and they are filled with tons of great information. So I think that, if you’re somebody who’s looking for more information about this, more diving deeper on some of the topics that Randy touched on today, and if you’re interested in just defending your choice to eat seafood to anyone, and you want to make sure that you have the information or just want to feel confident in your decision, and of course so much of the media may be freaking you out, and we want to make sure that you have the right information and that you can feel confident in your choices. So just hop over to VitalChoice.com and you can get tons of information from them. And that’s it. We’ll talk to you soon. Thanks so much Randy.

Randy Hartnell: Thank you, Diane.

Diane Sanfilippo: Bye-bye.

7. Diane’s Kitchen tip: cooking seafood [44:29]

Diane Sanfilippo: Ok, so in honor of my interview today with Randy from Vital Choice, I wanted to give you guys a quick kitchen tip on cooking seafood. Seafood is actually one of the quickest things to cook, and I talked about this with Randy a little bit, but one of the things that I do with something like wild salmon, for example, is simple season it with a little bit, I brush it with some ghee on the top, so Tin Star Ghee, perfect for that.

Brush it with some ghee, a little bit of salt and pepper, maybe a little bit of rosemary salt instead of plain salt if you have it or you’ve made it from the recipe in Practical Paleo, or any rosemary salt would be good. So you could try dill if you like that, lots of different herbs work really well with salmon, surprisingly, because it does stand up to a lot of different flavors. Oregano would work well also.

Then I just squeeze a little bit of lemon over the top, or maybe put a couple of slices of lemon on it, and broil it for about 10-12 minutes depending on the thickness. It’s so, so easy. You can pop that in the oven and sauté some veggies on the stove while that’s cooking. Really easy to do.

Another vegetable you could do with the fish would be asparagus, because asparagus actually roasts in about 8-10 minutes, it’s really quick to cook so that’s an easy one. A lot of veggies won’t cook as quickly, so that’s why I don’t recommend generally putting them in the oven at the same time, because something like broccoli, for example, needs a little more time to roast.

So that’s a quick tip for something like salmon. Now, when you’re working with something like shrimp or scallops, they cook really quickly as well. Shrimp will cook for about a minute or two tops per side in a well greased pan. Drop some butter or ghee in a pan and sear it on both sides, and you just need to see it turn pink and opaque; white throughout. You don’t want it to be transparent anymore .Same thing with the scallop. You can sear it; let it sear there for a few minutes so that it doesn’t stick to the pan anymore. When you see it releasing naturally, and then flip it over, and that’s a really good way to know that it’s done.

I have a really good recipe that’s very easy for delicious, Asian orange scallops in Practical Paleo, so that’s a good one you guys can refer to. Just make a really quick sauce that goes with the scallops, and it’s really tasty.

So I’m going to give you a second kitchen tip, and this one’s not as much on cooking, but a little bit more on buying and bringing home your seafood and kind of when to use it. Now, this is something that I’m definitely guilty of because sometimes I forget that I bought some fresh seafood, if I did buy it fresh and I’m not getting something from the freezer. Which is fine, it’s absolutely a good way to go as well, if you want to save some money, frozen is fantastic if you’re shopping anywhere locally and you just want to freeze it up yourself or you do prebuy some kind of frozen like wild salmon or shrimp, etc.

But what I recommend with fresh seafood is that you make your plan to have that for dinner that night, or that you cook it all that night or the very next morning or next day. Because I do find that with fresh seafood, you definitely lose some of the brightness and that freshness that it has if you wait a day or even two to cook it. I just don’t advise that. So that’s one way that you can make sure that your family enjoys the seafood that you’re trying to feed them as well, and that you enjoy it too if you cook it when its first brought home and you don’t let it wait. Something like chicken or beef can usually wait another couple of days and it’s no big deal, but I would cook that seafood right when you bring it home.

8. This week in the Paleosphere/Shout Out: #Dianessaladmadness [47:50]

Diane Sanfilippo: Alright, so this week in the paleo real food sphere. I’m just going to combine this with a shout out, and I’m going to keep it simple because I’m all by myself today. I don’t have Liz with me. So I’m going to just give you guys a little heads up/shout out/this week note that I recently posted to BalancedBites.com a blog post about how I make, what did I call it? Actually I forget what I called it. I’m going to go to my own website. {laughs} I wrote, How I build drool worthy salads, and all over Instagram for, it’s been months now I’ve been hash tagging my salads as #Dianessaladmadness because I started posting these salads, and I was like, this is just crazy.

My salads get out of control, I put a lot of toppings on them, I also like to mix up the colors. I like them to look great. And I have to tell you guys, this is something I’ve been doing since college. I remember when I would go to the cafeteria and there would be that big salad bar of kind of not the best quality ingredients, but I would constantly build a salad on my oval shaped plate, it was the cafeteria plate, and I would layer it and have the colors all organized in a certain way, and put certain things on top of other things so you could still see them and the colors would be showing and it would look kind of symmetrical and just pretty. People would always be like, wow that looks so good. And then inevitably, I would always leave the raw broccoli pieces and I think the chickpeas, they would fall to the bottom and I would never eat them. I was always like, why do I keep adding those to my salads? {laughs}

But I want to tell you guys, if you’re on Instagram, definitely checkout that hashtag, #Dianessaladmadness. Anytime I post a salad, I generally tag it with that. If you’re looking for cool salad ideas or just curious if certain things are going to go together or just want that inspiration, I don’t generally think that far ahead about what I’m going to put on a salad, I just kind of open the fridge and see what’s in there. But I do tend to think when we go to the grocery store, I’m like, we need things for salad. I think of, what are veggies that would be good raw, what are things that maybe are sort of precooked if we’re using something like deli meats, or prosciutto or turkey, or roasted peppers, things like that, and be able to mix it together. It’s #Dianessaladmadness.

But I did also put up on BalancedBites.com a blog post called How I Build Drool Worthy Salads where I walk you through the steps that I basically think of when I go to put a salad together, what am I starting with, what am I building from there? You can definitely check that out.

Liz Wolfe: Ok, so that’s it for this week. You can find me at http://realfoodliz.com/, and if you want to get updated when Baby Making and Beyond comes out, go to BabyMakingandBeyond.com and just enter your email. You can find Diane at http://dianesanfilippo.com. Be sure while you're on our websites to join our email lists for free goodies and updates you don’t find anywhere else on our website or on the podcast. And of course, while you’re on the internet, leave us an iTunes review if you please. We’ll talk to you next week.

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