Creating a sustainable world: An interview with Barton Seaver

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By Jadda Miller

National Geographic fellow, author and chef, Barton Seaver has dedicated his career to restoring the relationship we have with our ocean. It is his belief that the choices we are making for dinner are directly impacting the ocean and its fragile ecosystems. He promotes sustainability, wellness, and community as they relate to food.

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He sits on the board of the hunger-fighting organization D.C. Central Kitchen. He also has collaborations with the School Nutrition Association, the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School. They help promote a wider understanding of the human health consequences of global environmental change.

Seaver became a National Geographic fellow in 2010, working with the global partnership initiative Mission Blue. He developed a list of ocean friendly substitutes for popular yet depleted seafood species, and co-created the Seafood Decision Guide for consumers which evaluates seafood based on health and environmental factors.

His first book, For Cod and Country: Simple, Delicious, Sustainable Cooking is a cookbook of seasonal, environmentally responsible seafood and vegetable recipes.

Why do you feel it is important to use underutilized and more sustainable fish species in your cooking?

Because, we have commoditized our seafood preferences and ecosystems don’t work that way. We demand our preferences instead of asking a fish monger or local fisherman, what is freshest? What is local? In Europe people go to the docks to buy their seafood, they have a totally different idea of the meaning, “grocery shopping”.