Patagonia and Salmon

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Patagonia, a global clothing manufacturer and retailer, is in the food business.

You can buy real food to go along with with your down sweater. They feature fruit and almond bars, tsampa soup, and now, wild sockeye salmon.

Most of us have at one time or another worn one of their pull-over fleeces or jackets. The company has an excellent, well-deserved reputation for making high quality outdoor gear.

Patagonia is also known as a social and environmentally responsible company. They give 1% of their sales to support environmental organizations around the world.

They use transparency about their supply chain to help reduce the adverse social and environmental impacts of our products.

Patagonia takes pains to make sure their products are produced under safe, fair, legal and humane working conditions.

Good food lifts our spirits and helps us understand the world a little better. –Patagonia

And now they have turned their corporate attention to rethinking our food chain.

Here’s what they say on their Patagonia Provisions website:

The tradition and culture of food have always been important to us at Patagonia. On our many travels, the meals—cedar-planked salmon with First Nations friends in BC, tsampa in yak-hair tents in Tibet, asado and chimichurri with Patagonian gauchos—become a vital part of the experience. What we eat does more than just fill our stomachs and nourish our bodies; good food lifts our spirits and helps us understand the world a little better.

Erin Axelrod’s post over at civileats.comCan Patagonia’s New Food Line Revolutionize the Salmon Industry? offers this:

Last summer, the outerwear giant Patagonia made an unusual purchase: 80,000 pounds of wild Sockeye salmon. The fish was for its new food line, Patagonia Provisions, available online and in the company’s 30 U.S. retail stores in the form of a 6-ounce, $12 package of vacuum-packed, shelf-stable smoked salmon. If the product is successful, it could become one of the most verifiably ethical and sustainable salmon options on the market, much in the way Patagonia aimed to change the garment industry nearly two decades ago by switching to organic cotton.

Patagonia entered the food market in fall of 2013 with the wild salmon, as well as a fruit and nut bar, and a dried barley-based soup mix called Tsampa, which is made with organic vegetables. In the coming months, the company plans to roll out an entire line of ethically sourced food products, including prairie-based American Bison jerky, perennial Kernza wheat from the Land Institute, and more.

Patagonia’s founder Yvon Chouinard is out to not just sell good salmon, he wants to change the salmon business.

So he assembled an advisory group of nature-lovers, fisher people, and other experts that reported back that not all salmon is as it appears.

As with some other food stories we have read, fraud enters the picture.

Read Ms. Axelrod’s excellent column to learn the details about this fishy business.

We salute Mr. Chouinard and Patagonia for their continual desire to do good in the world.

Photo credit: Craig McCord