First published in the MLA Newsletter, January, 2012.
Founded in 2004, the Eat Local Foods Coalition (ELFC) is a non-profit network in Maine that seeks social change at a fundamental level: changing what we eat and how we make decisions about what we buy. ELFC is a coalition of organizations and individuals interested in creating a shift towards a more locally-based food system that is economically vibrant, environmentally sustainable, and healthy.
The local market for seafood is important for a number of reasons. It can provide fairer prices for local fishermen, keep money in our own communities, create jobs, and insulate our region from national and global recessions and sustain both fish and fishermen.
With the abundance of fish fraud and misinformation regarding the sustainability of fish such as bluefin tuna, it is important for consumers to know their local fishermen and be able to ask them questions in order to get the right information regarding fish species, seasons, catch methods, stock abundance, and nutrition. By supporting local fishermen consumers also protect their fishing communities from consolidation of the fleets.
Nearly two years ago, ELFC began a project aimed at helping better understand the challenges and opportunities currently facing our fishermen and farmers, recognizing the parallels between the two lines of work, in order to create greater awareness of solutions that benefit both producer groups. Since then, the By Land and By Sea project has brought together representatives of more than two dozen food, farming and fishing organizations to discuss how best to work collaboratively to support our local food producers, meet infrastructure needs, build consumer support, address policy changes and determine where to focus energy and resources to create a more sustainable, economically viable and food-secure locally-based food system.
The Eat Local Food Coalition is sponsoring “By Land and By Sea: Leveraging Co-ops for Business Success” on January 19. This one-day conference for Maine fishermen and farmers will focus on the co-operative model of doing business. To register, visit http://bylandandbysea.eventbrite.com, email email@example.com or call 807- 5539.