As someone who for several years has used the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch Guide to make good choices at the seafood counter, I was honored to represent Earthbound Organic Farm and Three Many Cooks at the Monterey Bay’s thirteenth annual Cooking for Solutions Celebration and the Ninth Annual Sustainable Foods Institute.

In her welcome, Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Executive Director, Julia Packard, reminded us that The Seafood Watch has been around for fifteen years, and their growing influence on the sustainable seafood movement is huge. It’s not just us consumers. Because of Seafood Watch, ninety-seven percent of seafood retailers are making sustainable seafood decisions.

The big question at this year’s conference: how are we going to feed the 9.6 billion people on this planet in 2050? It’s pretty daunting, and in the conference’s very first panel I was confronted with two astounding statistics: fifty percent of green house gasses result from livestock and sixty-six billion animals are raised and slaughtered every year. Our meat-centric diet is not sustainable.

It was Anna Blythe of The Real Food Media Project who suggested we need a 69% increase in calories to feed the 2050 population. That’s a daunting number. Fortunately she reminded us, “People can handle the bad news if you offer them a solution.” Fortunately there are lots of people on the case.

Ethan Brown, co-founder of Beyond Meat, hopes to replace the fast-food beef burger with a plant-based one that looks and tastes the same. Others believe our oceans, which make up 65.7 percent of our of the earth’s surface, are part of the solution. With better management—both of our wild catch and our fish farms—we can increase seafood production. Interestingly, TJ Tate, Director of Sustainability at Gulf Wild points out that seafood is the lowest consumed protein. She says consumers say they don’t know how to pick it out, and they don’t know how to cook it. I guess we bloggers have got work to do—Fish Fridays maybe?

In a panel entitled The New American Plate we were forced to consider alternative protein. Insects anyone? I don’t think we’ll be eating cricket bread anytime soon, but the suggestion of harvesting sea vegetables seemed less far-fetched after I saw someone passing out seaweed salad samples at Costco last week.

A day of intense discussion and serious debate, we were all itching for an outing, so on Friday morning we all headed out to Earthbound Farm Stand for a beautiful breakfast buffet. As we listened to speakers during breakfast I realized that much like the Seafood Watch’s influence on the seafood industry, Earthbound Farm is having a similar influence on the farming movement. As the largest organic producer in the country, Earthbound  farmed nearly 48,000 acres this year, which means they will keep out of the environment:

  • 515,000 pounds of toxic and persistent pesticides
  • 15.9 million pounds of synthetic fertilizers
  • 2.6 million gallons of petroleum used in petroleum-based chemicals
  • 123.2 million pounds of carbon dioxide absorbed by the organic soil in our fields (as much as taking more than 11,200 cars off the road)

I may not be around in 2050, but with my mom pushing ninety, my father-in-law a strong ninety-five, and medical care only getting better, I just might be. No matter. I want to do my part to make sure those I know and love—and those that I don’t—live in a world where food is pleasurable and abundant.

Eggs Baked in Chickpea-Tomato Sauce with Baby Spinach
Serves 8
An Earthbound Farm recipe this is my new favorite breakfast dish, which I enjoyed at both The Big Traveling Potluck as well as our conference breakfast in Monterey.

3 tablespoons olive oil
3  garlic cloves, minced
1/2 small red onion, cut into small dice
2 cans (15 ounces each) chickpeas, drained
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
8 ounces baby spinach (about 7 cups packed)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
6 large or 8 medium eggs
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Place the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Heat oil over medium-high heat in large skillet. Add garlic and onion; sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garbanzo beans and tomatoes and heat through. Add cumin and oregano. Simmer to blend flavors, about 10 minutes. Add spinach; continue to cook until spinach has wilted and most of the liquid has reduced.

Remove pan from the heat and turn mixture into a 13- by 9-inch pan. Make 6 to 8 indentations in the tomato-garbanzo-spinach mixture and crack one egg into each indentation. Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle the parsley over the top. Bake until the eggs have solidified, about 25 minutes. Serve hot.