A few times in the past month, I've mentioned that I've been destroying sushi restaurants for myself, forever.
OK, maybe a bit of an over-exaggeration, but, basically, my family and I have been making our own amazing, mouthwatering, super-clean sushi and sashimi in my own kitchen now, thanks to a new service I discovered called “SEATOPIA.”
SEATOPIA—recently featured in Forbes magazine—delivers (literally) on its promise to make “eating and exploring truly sustainable gourmet seafood easier and more fun.” How? By delivering, like, essentially the Butcher Box of seafood, award-winning seafood direct from artisan regenerative farms, right to their customers’ doorsteps, all in 100% plastic-free and styrofoam-free packaging—100% transparency, 100% sushi-grade, 100% antibiotic-free, certified sustainable, and mercury-free. Plus each shipment includes QR code scannable recipes from celebrity and Michelin Star chefs.
Over the last eight years, the owner, and my guest on today's show—James Arthur Smith—has been personally visiting aquaculture farms, eating the feed the fish eat, swimming in, under, and around the grow-out pens, and lab testing the harvested products to quantity claims. Through SEATOPIA, James is endeavoring to revolutionize the seafood supply chain and empower health-conscious consumers to directly support artisan farms, helping to foster regenerative seafood practices. He thinks that despite the information shared in documentaries like SEASPIRACY, there are a handful of success stories of sustainable fisheries and innovative aquaculture projects regenerating the oceans while producing some of the healthiest protein on the planet.
Currently, in the Sea of Cortez, Baja Mexico, James Arthur Smith and his wife have been living aboard their vintage sailboat for nearly a decade. Immersed in the ocean since childhood, at age six, James Arthur became the youngest junior lifeguard to complete the La Jolla, California open ocean swim challenge. At age 12, he began volunteering at the Chula Vista Marine Science Discovery Center where a steelhead trout breeding and hatchery program sparked his interest in the principles of regenerative aquaculture and marine conservation. While James' childhood dream of being a Shamu trainer has since evolved, a commitment to connecting with nature and protecting marine environments has been consistent.
For the last eight years, James Arthur has been connecting boutique aquaculture projects from around the world with award-winning farm-to-table restaurants. Through these relationships, James Arthur developed one of the most trusted wholesale seafood distribution businesses in Southern California catering to world-renowned farm-to-table restaurants and Michelin Star chefs. When Covid-19 closed restaurants, James Arthur switched his energy to developing a 100% plastic & styrofoam-free home delivery box for truly sustainable seafood. Today, SEATOPIA is revolutionizing the seafood supply chain by connecting home cooks with sushi-grade products directly from the world's best farms and has garnered a cult-like following from health-conscious foodies and environmentalists nationwide.
During our discussion, you'll discover:
-How SEATOPIA is the pescatarian version of Butcher Box…10:05
- Product is blast-frozen (not flash-frozen) to allow freshness for months
- Everything is sushi-grade
- No plastic in the packaging—everything is compostable
- Blast-frozen practice allows far more proteins to be retained than flash-frozen
- Most fish in grocery stores have been frozen and defrosted several times prior to purchase
- SEATOPIA (use code BENGREENFIELD20 to save $20) fish is defrosted at peak freshness and the most nutrients and taste possible
-How James got into the fish business…16:00
- Worked at SeaWorld as a kid and fell in love with the species
- Covid restaurant shutdowns enabled the launch of the home-based subscription service
-Sustainable vs. conventional fish farming practices…18:52
- We eat grass-fed beef because we know where it was raised; same applies to farm-raised fish
- Artisan aquaculture farms are focused on sustainably raised fish
- Fish poop is a major problem to the aquaculture at large; there is no waste in nature
- Too much of one type of animal in a small space is problematic
- Fish don't naturally produce Omega 3s
- You are what you eat
- Majority of fisheries feed their fish corn and soy
- Algae is the root of healthy fish (pelletized diet)
-How to avoid heavy metals and microplastic accumulation in farm-raised fish…31:07
- Coal-fired power plants release microparticles of mercury into the ecosystem
- Killer whales that have washed up on shore have mercury levels that are considered to be biohazards
- Low trophic diet
- Each vendor's product is tested for heavy metals prior to purchase, or as a condition of continued purchases
- UC Davis did a study that found 1 in 4 fish have microplastics in them
- We “romanticize” the idea of wild-caught fish without considering the implications of modern fishing practices on the environment
-James' thoughts on the SEASPIRACY documentary…38:05
- “Vegan propaganda”
- All doom and gloom with nothing on the shining examples of regenerative aquaculture throughout the world
-Food porn: Ben and James rave about SEATOPIA products…45:10
- Ben loves the kanpachi (use code BENGREENFIELD20 to save $20)
- Farm products have pelletized diet; easier to make sushi-grade fish
- James mentions a trick with young coconuts to create a saliva-inducing upgrade to the kanpachi
- Kanpachi is a cousin to the more popular hamachi
- NordicBlu and Atlantic king salmon (use code BENGREENFIELD20 to save $20)
- Chalkstream trout (use code BENGREENFIELD20 to save $20)
- Picking up subtle flavors and minerals unique to an environment
- Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club
- Podcast with T.J. Robinson, the olive oil guy
-James' top recipe he loves to share…1:01:50
- Products that aren't overly cooked; rare in the middle
- Cooking products from frozen
- Crispy vs. raw middle
-How to get started ordering with SEATOPIA…1:04:45
-And much more…
Resources mentioned in this episode:
– James Arthur Smith:
- SEATOPIA (use code BENGREENFIELD20 to save $20)
- Atlantic King Salmon
- Chalkstream Trout
- How Seatopia Is Pioneering Regenerative Aquaculture For The Direct-To-Consumer Market
- What Olive Oil Should Taste Like, The Scary Truth About Olive Oil, Can You Cook With Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Much More!, with T. J. Robinson.
– Other Resources:
- Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club
- Butcher Box
- 9 Ways UC Davis Is Rescuing Oceans: Scientists Trigger New Federal Law, Create Healthy Practices for Marine Life
- SEASPIRACY documentary
- Keep up on Ben's LIVE appearances by following bengreenfieldfitness.com/calendar
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