Making seafood accessible to low-income and nutritionally vulnerable populations on the U.S. West Coast

Keywords: Fisheries, Food Systems, Seafood, Local Food, Food Access, Health, Low-income Populations

Abstract

Along the U.S. West Coast, sustainable manage­ment has rebuilt fish stocks, providing an oppor­tunity to supply nutrient-rich food to adjacent coastal communities where food insecurity and diet-based diseases are common. However, the market has not successfully supplied locally sourced seafood to nutritionally vulnerable people. Rather, a few organizations make this connection on a limited scale. We used a “positive deviant” approach to learn how these organizations’ efforts developed, how they overcame challenges, and what conditions enabled their interventions. We found that organizations in these positive deviant cases provided fish from a wide variety of species and sources, and distributed them through different channels to a diversity of end consumers. A key factor facilitating success was the ability to negotiate a price point that was both profitable and reasonable for organizations supplying nutritionally vulnerable or low-income consumers. Further­more, securing access to grants overcame initial costs of establishing new supply channels. All cases highlighted the importance of individual cham­pi­ons who encouraged development and cultural connections between the initiative and the nearby community. Organizations overcame key chal­lenges by establishing regulations governing these new channels and either using partnerships or vertically integrating to reduce costs associated with processing and transport. Oftentimes training and education were also critical to instruct workers on how to process unfamiliar fish and to increase consumer awareness of local fish and how to pre­pare them. These lessons illuminate pathways to improve the contribution of local seafood to the healthy food system.

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Author Biographies

J. Zachary Koehn, University of Washington

School of Aquatic & Fishery Sciences, College of the Environment, University of Washington; and Center for Ocean Solutions, Stanford University.

Emilee L. Quinn, University of Washington

MPH, Center for Public Health Nutrition, Department of Health Services, School of Public Health

Jennifer J. Otten, University of Washington

PhD, RD, Nutritional Sciences Program, Center for Public Health Nutrition, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health

Edward H. Allison, University of Washington

PhD, Nippon Foundation Ocean Nexus Program, Earthlab; and WorldFish, Penang, Malaysia

Christopher M. Anderson, University of Washington

PhD, School of Aquatic & Fishery Sciences, College of the Environment

Published
2020-12-11
How to Cite
Koehn, J., Quinn, E., Otten, J., Allison, E., & Anderson, C. (2020). Making seafood accessible to low-income and nutritionally vulnerable populations on the U.S. West Coast. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 10(1), 171–189. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2020.101.027