This past Friday, I was fortunate to attend an event at Harvard Faculty Club, sponsored by Oldways and Kwik’pak Fisheries. The event, which was called “For the Health of it” was a wild Yukon salmon seminar and tasting, and it was as delicious as it was informative and fun.
After running circles around Harvard Square, I finally found the Harvard Faculty Club which, as you can probably imagine, is a beautiful, impressive building both inside and out.
The opening reception offered smoked salmon with a variety of toppings like red onion and lemon. I love smoked salmon, but I usually eat it in Ireland at the hubs’ parents’ house. It was nice to try some salmon from thousands of miles away from there!
After meeting some Oldways staff members, I found a seat and looked through all of the literature provided. I loved the marketing materials! I wish I got to work on fun projects like this!
The folder included two recipes from Legal Seafoods chefs, who actually did a cooking demo for us later in the afternoon. It also included press releases, a map of the Yukon River area, nutritional information, and some background on Kwik’pak.
The first speaker, Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, from the Harvard School of Public Health, was fantastic. He spoke about the research done on the connection between salmon and health. The major benefit of eating fish, and in particular 2 servings a week of wild salmon, is its prevention of death from heart disease. I didn’t know this, but 50% of people who have heart disease find out by dying. That’s pretty awful!
According to research, the benefits of eating salmon far outweigh the risks, even for pregnant women, and the Omega 3 fatty acids found in the fish can be significantly helpful for the brain development of the fetus by reducing their risk of suboptimal verbal IQ.
What about mercury and dioxins, you might ask. This was the first thing on my mind as well, and it turns out that seafood is one of the lowest sources of dioxins. As for mercury, pregnant women should avoid shark, swordfish, mackerel, and tilefish, which provide a higher mercury risk, but 12 ounces of salmon a week is just fine. Of course, as with everything, you want to consult a physician regarding your own health situation, but its good to know some of the extremely positive effects of eating salmon! Interestingly enough, I am going to be posting my review of The O2 Diet this week, and you will be hearing about some of the other benefits of salmon such as its contributions to making us look more youthful and glowing!
Dr. Mozzafarian was followed by Jack Schultheis, the General Manager of Kwik’pak fisheries. Mr. Schultheis spoke passionately about the Yupik people of the Yukon River, (who had arrived there 10,000 years ago!) their salmon fishing way of life, and the need to sustain their communities and culture. He was an excellent speaker because every word he said contained meaning and a sense of commitment. He made me want to learn more about the Yupik and to spread the word about the Yukon River salmon.
Following Mr. Schultheis’ inspiring speech, we were treated to a cooking demo by two chefs from Legal Seafoods, Jeff Tenner, the Executive Director of Culinary Operations and Peter Doire, a Senior Chef at Legals. They prepared two delicious looking and easy to make dishes, Brown Bag Salmon with fennel and oranges and Salmon Ceviche. The chefs were kind enough to share the recipes with us, and I will likely be making and blogging about both in the near future. They really got me craving salmon!
Which was a good thing, because we then broke for a salmon tasting.
A nice, dry Spanish Cava provided a refreshing accompaniment to the salmon.
Oozing with Omega 3’s
A variety of sauces were offered, including a traditional American blueberry sauce but I opted for a big spoonful of the the mango salsa which was simply amazing.
The fish was moist and flaky and tasted very fresh. I enjoyed the contrast of the fruitiness of the salsa with the richness of the salmon. Getting people to try this salmon after a speech from Mr. Schultheis is all the marketing Kwik’pak needs!
The last session of the afternoon was a Q & A session with Ruth Carter from Kwik’pak Fisheries, Ellen and Humphrey Keyes and Matilda Oktoyuk, native fishermen (fisherpeople?) from Emmonak, Alaska. It was interesting to hear about their way of life way up on the Northwest edge of North America. Their economy is truly one of subsistence. They grow, hunt, or catch almost all of the food that they eat, and as we saw with these people, they hold down multiple jobs in the community, such as teaching and repairing nets, in addition to the salmon fishing that they do.
Oldways put together a fantastic event, and I am glad to see them partnering with a company that provides the highest quality fish while helping to boost an economy and way of life that is so vibrant and rich in history. I have been following the work of Oldways for years now, and I look forward to learning more about their latest initiatives. I have included some information about them at the end of this post, and I would suggest checking out their website. Anyone with an interest in food, whether it be from a cultural, nutritional, or enjoyment standpoint, can learn a lot from Oldways.
Thanks to Oldways and Kwik’pak for inviting me to attend this event!
Oldways is an internationally-respected non-profit, changing the way people eat through practical and positive programs grounded in science, traditions, and delicious foods and drinks. It is best known for developing consumer-friendly health-promotion tools, including the Whole Grain Stamp and the well-known Mediterranean Diet Pyramid.