Endangered Eating: Salish Sea Reefnet Fishing

image courtesy Sarah Lohman
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Taught by Sarah Lohman

Sarah Lohman is a culinary historian and the author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed book Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine. She focuses on the history of American food as a way to access stories of women, immigrants, and people of color, and to address issues of racism, sexism, and xenophobia. Her work has been featured inTheWall Street Journal andThe New York Times, as well as onAll Things Considered; and she has presented across the country, from the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington, DC to The Culinary Historians of Southern California. She is also 1/2 of the Masters of Social Gastronomy, a monthly food science and history talk at Caveat NYC, with Brainery co-founder Jonathan Soma. 



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This lecture series is a semi-secret preview of Sarah Lohman’s upcoming food history book, Endangered Eating: Exploring America’s Vanishing Food! Over the coming months, she’ll lead eight classes, each focused on a single chapter of her book. It’s your chance to get the scoop on Sarah’s work, help her with questions and feedback, and learn a curious story about America’s food past! Samples are included in this lecture.

In Salish Sea, north of Puget Sound, an ancient, indigenous fishing technique is being preserved. When “reefnet fishing,” a spotter looks for a school of fish then a net is raised in the water between two floating platforms, trapping the salmon in a “well.” The salmon are hauled on the platform by hand, and then kept in a live-well. This method keeps the fish calm, which ultimately results in a sweeter flavor and allows the fishermen to easily separate protected fish, unharmed. This technique is being preserved in Washington by the Lummi Island Wild Co-op, and I spent several days with them, catching, killing and sorting pink salmon until my hands swelled from the labor. I also jumped on board the first indegenious-run fishing gear on the water in over a century.

But the salmon this fisheries catch are disappearing, and as a result, so are the animals that eat them, like orca whales. Reefnet fishing is being proposed as a sustainable fishing method, in opposition to trolling. I’ll bring you along on the twists and turns as I follow the investigations into why the salmon are vanishing, and if reefnet is the answer.


We'll also have a sample of reefnet caught Puget Sound Pink salmon!

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