On the occasion of Slow Fish, an event dedicated to promoting sustainable fisheries and fish consumption that will bring together fishers, chefs and experts from many countries from May 9-12 in Genoa, Italy, Slow Food has invited the public to take part in the “Small Bite, Big Taste” anchovy recipe contest. Many ‘small bite’ recipes have been submitted over the past weeks and a selection of finalists will be presented by the Slow Food Youth Network (SFYN) during Slow Fish for tasting and final judging.
Each afternoon, young cooks will prepare a selection of the “Small Bite, Big Taste’ recipe finalists in the Banano Tsunami area, as will the Alliance Bistrot, which will host around twenty Italian and international chefs. The final jury will be made up of scientists, fishers, cooks and representatives from SFYN and be chaired by Patricia Majluf, a marine biologist and former vice-minister of fisheries in Peru who is responsible for the “Eat Anchoveta” campaign at Cayetano Heredia University. The winning recipe will be announced on the last evening of Slow Fish, Sunday 12, in the Banano Tsunami area. The winner will receive a one-kilogram can of Peruvian anchovies and a poster of the “Eat Anchoveta” campaign, featuring traditional Andean graphics.
Slow Food organized this competition to celebrate anchovies – the little fish with a big taste – which unfortunately are being over-fished to be used in animal feed in many parts of the world. What is otherwise a very sustainable fish, is hence losing its gastronomic, economic and cultural value. The anchovy family (Engraulidae) has played an important role in many food cultures, ancient and modern, and in both inland and coastal areas, where they have been eaten raw, dried, salted, smoked, fermented and more. Furthermore, the anchovy is essential for a healthy marine ecosystem, because at the lower end of the marine food chain, anchovies are vital to feeding the species above them. The most salient example of overfishing anchovies is that of the Peruvian anchoveta, which is sold at the low price of US$150 a ton and then almost entirely destined to the production of animal feed.
The current food system reduces some of its most valuable and nutritious maritime species to animal feed, diverting them from the human consumption market, even in developing countries where large portions of the population cannot always afford animal proteins. This little fish helps us understand the absurdities of our broken food system: in an era when sustainable fishing and fish stocks are a major concern, why are we dedicating 40% of all fish catches to feed other animals (Source: FAO), that produce less healthy food, with more environmental damage and a major carbon footprint?
The “Eat Anchoveta” campaign in Peru is slowly turning the tide by promoting anchovies as a delicious and nutritious fish. With the help of over 100 chefs, so far it has succeeded in bringing three percent of the catch back to the table.
Slow Fish is also an international campaign launched by Slow Food to promote good, clean and fair fish by informing consumers and encouraging interaction between those involved in the world of sustainable fisheries: www.slowfood.it/slowfish/welcome_en.lasso . The campaign seeks to abolish the use of fish as animal feed and to restore its true value. Bringing the anchovy back to our plates in places where it is fished for animal feed would allow the fishing industry to reduce fishing pressure while maintaining the economic worth (over US $1500 million per year), thereby guaranteeing a healthier marine system at large.