You’re probably familiar with the idea of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), a hyper-local economic model that acts like a matchmaker between producers and shoppers. Usually taking the form of a subscription, consumers sign up for a steady supply of fresh, local, seasonal produce. Farmers are guaranteed a market to sell to and—without a middleman retailer to take a cut—a better price for their goods.
CSAs benefit all parties by shortening the distribution chain and re-establishing a relationship between growers and eaters. And in the last couple of years, people like fisherman and restaurateur Sean Barrett have started to take these principles and apply them to seafood by establishing Community Supported Fisheries (CSF).
Barrett founded Dock to Dish in Montauk, Long Island in 2013. The ten-minute Food Curated video (below) explains how it operates, providing members with a weekly portion of premium seafood that was caught sustainably within the last 24 hours. Or, in Barrett words, giving people “a fisherman’s fish.”
But where Dock to Dish has really made waves is in New York City, where it has pioneered the country’s first Restaurant Supported Fishery. Over the inaugural 2013 season, six chefs signed up to receive 50 pounds of seafood per week, reports Edible Manhattan: Dan Barber, Bill Telepan, April Bloomfield, Eric Ripert, Francis Guzman, and Joe Realmuto. They received whatever was abundant and fresh, including bigeye tuna, black sea bass, swordfish, fluke, longfin squid, blackfish, bluefish, golden tilefish, and striped bass.
According to Edible, the RSF forces restaurants to return to an older way of doing things, working around what is in supply rather than creating the demand.
The enthusiasm for the catch of the day extended beyond the kitchen and into the dining room. According to Joe Realmuto (of Nick & Toni’s in East Hampton), the superfresh seafood consistently sold out as soon as he put it on the menu. Which hopefully means, as Dock to Dish’s 2014 season draws to a close, that the RSF movement is more than just a flash in the pan.