Turning Around the Anchoveta

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Our first day in Lima, Peru had been quiet a cultural shock but an exciting new experience never the less. We met up with Alicia and Alejandra who will be staying with us for the majority part of our time in Peru. It wasn’t till the second day that we were introduced to Susana Cardenas and learned about the CSA program. The Center for the Sustainability of Agriculture has focused it’s goal on changing the public opinion about anchovetas from using them as fishmeal to consuming them directly. In traditional times, the anchoveta was considered too disgusting for human consumption because of its looks and oily taste. Instead it was harvested to be used as fishmeal to feed animals in the poultry and fishery industries. The CSA found a way to make it more sustainable by introducing the anchoveta as an enticing delicious fish that can be served in homes and restaurants. To do this they brought famous chefs around the world to cook up meals that have the anchoveta as the center piece. Now there is a festival “ The Semana de Anchoveta” where partnerships between cooks, biologists, and designer artists work to appeal the people’s eyes and stomachs using anchovetas in their dishes. It became a huge success as people started to enjoy eating the fish, companies are investing in processed products, and the exportation of canned and frozen anchoveta.

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This sustainable approach helps to improve the food security globally by allowing a more diverse marine ecosystem. Before, the fishery industries were over harvesting and causing huge disruptions to the natural predators and the ecosystem resilience. As the human population continued to grow, there was high demand for fishmeal and fish oil. This in turn put a huge strain on the marine ecosystem causing social degradation and an increase of pollution. All of this is taken away if the anchoveta is harvested for human consumption. Learning about anchoveta and the goals that CSA has taught me so much about how traditions are starting to change and become more sustainable. I believe that this could really make a difference for both the environment but also for the culture of Peru.

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