The group of women that promotes the consumption of Mexican fish

This story about the group of women that encourages the consumption of Mexican fish and shellfish was read by our subscribers before anyone else. Join the Animal Family to receive this and many other benefits.

Eating Mexican fish is a privilege and that says a lot: in our seas there is everything. This says Gabriela Cámara, chef at Contramar, a restaurant that for 24 years has only bought national products at a fair price and of legal origin. With 17 other women cooks, she formed a group with the aim of promoting all the products of the national coast.

The idea of ​​the group arose to counteract the fact that only 15% of what is caught in Mexico stays in the country, according to data from the Mexican Council for the Promotion of Fishery and Aquaculture Products (COMEPESCA). This happens, in part, because the idea prevails that fish is more expensive than other proteins, but also because of the lack of consumer culture: fresh fish is considered a luxury product.

Citlali Gómez, director of Pesca con Futuro, and chef Lula Martín del Campo, from the Marea restaurant in Mexico City, lead this project. Although it involves chefs with their own restaurants and mostly women, they will be promoters so that their work sensitizes everyone to vary their diet, especially those who cook at home.

The project was consolidated as an active movement since the end of 2021. The first vehicle to achieve its goals is a cookbook where all the varieties of fish and shellfish that exist in Mexico are exposed, as well as some tips for handling them and easy recipes.

It will also talk about bans, legal sales spaces, seasons, cooking methods and efficient ways to make products yield. All this under simple and accessible preparations in economic terms.

We are interested in all Mexicans knowing the enormous range of possibilities that exist in Mexican waters because that way we also have better products in our restaurants. It is a win-win that begins at sea and also enshrines all the work of the fishermen.

Lula Martin del Campo

A seed that germinates in the sea

The challenge is important, says Citlali Gómez. It is about changing the discourse in all the links of the fishing chain without neglecting the need for it to be a free market, with fair prices -both for producers and consumers- and responsible with the ecosystems.

The first focus to promote the consumption of Mexican fish and shellfish is to establish relationships with producers and create a bilateral link in which they know the needs of their consumers and at the same time there is empathy about fishing seasons, sizes and conditions for adequate sale.

The group has reached almost all the states of the republic with a fishing industry -both coastal and farm and lagoons- but the work is just beginning since it is estimated that the scope is only 10% of the producers in the entire country.

The role of women chefs is to absorb all the knowledge that these people have in order to bring it to their kitchens first. Among themselves, they organize trips to get acquainted, for example, with sardine fishing in the Pacific or learn about the alligator gar raised in Tabasco sustainable farms.

Each one is from different origins and with knowledge of their specific local products. Among them they exchange knowledge and create a documentation network of everything that happens in the Mexican seas and is put on the plate.

Preachers of what they learn

women Mexican fish what is the fishing ban in a pandemic fish food security

From there, the women become spokespersons for a multidisciplinary community, in which people from various professions participate in the Mexican fish industry: government workers, researchers, journalists, communicators and businesswomen. The collective brainstorms ideas and has periodic sessions in which specific topics are worked on to establish short-term objectives and meet them.

We are not exclusive of men at all; rather, we have had to be pure women. We believe in teamwork with other unions such as product distribution, where almost all of them are men.

Citlali Gomez

What follows is to make a traceability project that can be legislated in the short term, where different actors of the fishing industry are integrated; This is because illegal fishing and unfair trade are two of the most important problems in the fish trade.

Why should we encourage the consumption of Mexican fish?

According to data from OCEANA, 50% of the seafood that is put on the plate does not follow the regulations established by the government and one of the palliatives would be to devise a model that could know everything that happens on the way from the water to the desk.

We want the movement to cause a change that is reflected in the water.

Citlali Gomez.

It would also avoid what OCEANA calls cat in a hare Well, according to Lula Martín del Campo, many times this scam has to do with the high demand for certain species and the ignorance of others. Everyone wants, for example, red snapper and sea bass, but there is not always something for everyone; then they give you corvina or other species that are not bad but are not in the same price range.

women mexican fish learn to choose fish

The use of the national product is also an important factor. According to figures from the Mexican Meat Council, per capita consumption of meat is 65 kilos a year, while, according to the National Commission for Aquaculture and Fisheries (CONAPESCA), people in the country consume only 12 kilos a year. of fish and shellfish.

The economic effect

farmed and wild fish

The low consumption of fish, says Fadlala Akabani, Secretary of Economic Development of CDMX, also speaks of the population’s lack of knowledge about where to buy and how to do it well. To balance economic activities and sources of income, it is also in the interest of the state to promote a culture that involves Mexican seafood products in the diet.

Another issue to address has to do with how fish prices are set, which happens in the opposite way to the rest of the products. The cooperatives that have fish caught with good practices must lower their prices to compete, so the efforts to do things well do not reflect any reward. One of the intentions is precisely to achieve an economic balance that favors all parties.

In collaboration with producers and this secretariat, the women’s group encouraged the Lent 2021 campaign, in which all the actors promote greater sales at a fair price in spaces such as the Nueva Viga market.

Getting to put order is not our job, but the group seeks to teach them how to buy, choose and how to modify consumption habits in order to demand from suppliers the quality that we all want.

Lula Martin del Campo

The collective of women for Mexican fish is in its infancy and has a long way to go to organize and planassures Citlali Gómez. However, the first steps have been taken with the Lenten campaign and the starting signal for the cookbook. Apart from this, the group of women in favor of the consumption of Mexican fish and shellfish is constantly learning to generate new ideas that can truly empower consumption in all Mexicans.