Thursday, March 7, 2013

Father Son Saturdays: the Granville Island Sustainable Seafood Walking Tour

I'm really enjoying being back in school full time, but it leaves me a lot less time to blog here. To keep you entertained in my absence, I have asked my dear husband to write a guest post or two. Here's the first of what I hope will be a few.

Granville Island Market. Photo by uncleweed, via Flickr
Sprog and I spent the morning of the last Saturday of February taking a sunny but windy father and son bicycle ride down through the Olympic Village and along the False Creek Seawall to Granville Island. We were there to take part in the Granville Island Sustainable Seafood Walking Tour, hosted by David Suzuki Foundation and Seachoice.

I locked up my bike at a nearby rack, got Sprouty out of his front bike seat, let him run in circles around the Island's maple tree ringed "Triangle Square" and grabbed the map we needed to embark on our self-guided tour. I had been expecting to join an actual scheduled tour group, based on the event description, but I was consoled when I saw that there was a seafood cooking demonstration later that morning at a "secret location" just for people registered on the tour, so I figured that would be worth the wait and it did give us plenty of time to wander around the island together and visit some of the tour venues.

Now taking a walking tour with an easily distracted toddler in a crowded marketplace surrounded by lanes and parking lots isn't the easiest thing in the world, but once we got to the venues, we discovered that each one had a staff member wearing a fish-shaped hat. That captured my toddler's interest quite well and I was able to convince him to try a small seafood snack at each location, before he'd try and run off to explore the sights and sounds of the marketplace. I'm trying to get this toddler to love fish as much as I do, but I remember not really liking every kind of fish product my German family ate when I was a little boy ("Rollmops", anyone?).

Sprog and I finally arrived at the somewhat well-hidden location of the cooking demonstration: a parking garage on Granville Island that was about to be temporarily re-purposed later that evening as a Winterruption food truck festival and beer garden (which sounded wonderful, but was going to be 'no minors'- so not particularly family friendly). Chef Ian Lai's demo of homemade well-crafted salmon burgers and side dishes was well under way. Sprouty found himself a little friend to run in circles with and I was able to relax a bit and watch the cooking demo, while keeping only one eye on him, as the whole venue was fenced off from the nearby traffic with only one exit. Chef Ian Lai made occasional references to the kids in the audience and the importance of educating kids about food issues and involving them in the production of food by gardening or having them help cook. I fully agree with this line of thinking. Lai heads a Richmond, BC based urban agriculture organization that does this kind of outreach work.

If seafood is your thing, or if you want to feed seafood to your family, consider making the most ethical choices you can by following the guidelines in  a well-researched program like Seachoice and their list of available resources (such as an iPhone app or printable wallet cards to help you make sushi choices) or Vancouver Aquarium's Oceanwise program to help you avoid making purchases from unsustainable fisheries or feeding your family fish that can contain a high load of toxins.

All in all, a morning well spent. Despite my previous familiarity with seafood harvesting and farming issues, due to being a seafood lover growing up on the coast with lots of friends and past coworkers involved in fish science and research, marine mammal husbandry and fishing and fish farming, I still feel like I came away from it having learned a thing or two. Maybe more importantly, I got to talk fish with my toddler a bit, helping him make the connection between the sushi he loves eating and those little fishies in the books he reads.

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