The Key to Establishing Truthful Claims to “Sustainable Harvest”
As with all species in the intertidal and subtidal zones, only one person should be assigned to an individual bed, year after year. Then the harvest is truly “sustainable”. If the term is simply used in corporate advertising, like the term “organic” is used, it’s simply corporate advertising, empty of real meaning, and any consumer can easily ground-truth the subject by asking the CEO, “Where is the bed?” and “What is the contact info for the harvester assigned to that bed?” and “Where do I file a Freedom of Information Request to get a copy of the public records of sustainable harvesting for that particular bed?” Corporations and the FDA like to talk about “traceability” of food. Ha! Try it sometime! See if you can actually come to the point of communication with the person who has observed the food growing, year after year. See if you can get a map, a photo, a paragraph, or even better, a scheduled visit. In my business, you can! That’s because I am an “owner-operator”, I answer emails with descriptions and photos, and I encourage customers to visit so they can discover for themselves the source and spirit of this food. In the summer, there are 15 tent platforms all set up in Middle Heaven, complete with tents and air mattresses, for my customers. There’s no charge for an overnight or a weekend visit. My contact info is listed at the website where I offer my products for sale: www.theseaweedman.com.
In most businesses you will discover that you have to “pierce the corporate shield” before you come to the point of communication with a real live person who is handling your food, and that person is an employee. Usually there is, at best, a demo area and an “educational” spiel somewhere in the “welcoming visitors” area upfront in the corporation. Rarely is there a chance to sit down with the actual harvesters and have an informal talk about their “memory of place”. (I am indebted to poet/farmer Wendell Berry for that term, “memory of place”. Wendell Berry describes farmers like I experienced during my childhood in Minnesota who would visit with their neighbors in the evenings and on trips to town and church, and their conversations followed the pattern of “I remember when that farm was owned by those people and this is what they did, and this is how it turned out. Then the next family of farmers took over and…..” This collective memory of place that existed in the minds of the people is what stabilized the community and the land. Likewise, when a community of people who live along the shoreline understand the potentials and the history, they become capable of true stewardship of the resource. This website is written to point the way toward that goal.)