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Feast of the Seven Sustainable Fishes

December 15, 2018

Family traditions are part of the bedrock of the MSC program.  “We’ve been fishing here for generations, and we want our children to be able to do the same,” is something we hear a lot from fishermen around the world. One of the reasons the MSC program is so important is because it ensures that fish populations are stable and will continue to be productive well into the future, providing livelihoods for millions of people. It also ensures that the delicious seafood we enjoy today will be enjoyed by future generations, who will carry on the legacy of family traditions. 

A popular family tradition typically hosted during Christmastime is the Feast of the Seven Fishes. The custom traces its roots to parts of Italy, when families would fast from meat on Christmas Eve or La Vigilia (The Vigil). The seven fishes represented the seven sacraments or the seven days of Creation in Catholicism. Celebrated predominantly by Italian-Americans in the US, the tradition represents family togetherness and joviality, with extended families and family friends taking part in a bountiful feast throughout the Christmas Eve day.

The many courses range in variety but we asked one Italian-American family for their typical feast: 

Course 1 – Shrimp cocktail with bread, olive oil, and cheeses
Courses 2 & 3 – Pasta with two clam sauces, red and white
Course 4 – Fried calamari (sometimes called calamod) with bread and sauce
Course 5 – Crab legs
Course 6 – Lobster risotto
Course 7 – A white fish fillet, often cod, with fresh vegetables

The courses begin in the early afternoon and continue well into the evening, finishing with gift exchanges and games, and there’s never a shortage of laughter. 

This amazing celebration of tradition and delicious seafood is possible with sustainable ingredients. The simplest way to ensure that your family’s feast is sustainable is to look for the MSC blue fish label in your local grocery store. MSCbluefish label It can be found in the frozen section, the fresh fish counter, as well as in the canned and pouched aisles. 

If you’re planning your holiday feast or want to make seafood a part of your family tradition, here are a few recipes that allow MSC certified, sustainable seafood to shine: 

Classic devilled eggs with shrimp – This unique twist on an old favorite is sure to be a crowd pleaser!

Clams on Cuban toast points – This dish is an excellent appetizer: fresh, easy-to-make, and great for sharing.

Seafood stew with calamari rings – Warm stew is perfect for chilly winter holidays!

Crab mac-n-cheese – This cozy comfort food is top notch for a holiday feast.

Lobster saffron risotto – It’s hard to turn down a tried and true favorite! 

Alaskan cod with fresh herbs and tomatoes – This recipe is easy to prepare, healthy and delicious!

Citrus, melon, and cod salad – A fresh side salad is a perfect complement to any feast.

For more certified sustainable recipes, click here.*

The blue fish label represents wild, traceable, sustainable seafood.  It means that a fishery or company has met all the requirements to be considered sustainable, through an in-depth review process carried out by an independent, third party organization. Globally recognized as the gold standard in sustainability, the MSC’s sustainability standard was developed in consultation with academics, scientists, industry experts, and conservation groups. When you see the blue fish label on your seafood, you can trust that from the ocean to your plate, it is good for you and the oceans, too.

During this festive time of year, family traditions are particularly special and vibrant, and the MSC hopes that you’ll make certified sustainable seafood part of your tradition. We believe that future generations can and should enjoy the seafood we love. That’s a tradition we will continue to carry on in the years to come.


*Our seafood selections listed above are a sample of many MSC certified seafoods found in grocery stores and restaurants. 
 
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