Sea-to-Plate Aquaculture Immersion in Patagonia

July 25, 2019

The Ask: To dispel myths and increase the consumption of farm-raised fish.

The Challenge: To overcome the negative perception of consuming farm-raised fish.

The Solution: Educate consumers on the nutritional benefits of sustainable seafood.

The Approach: Provide a select group of powerful RD influencers to gain first-hand experience visiting an aquaculture operation in Patagonia, Chile to learn the latest in seafood sustainability and salmon farming.

From Farm to Plate

When it comes to successfully promoting food on restaurant menus, using the phrase, “farm-to-table” typically does wonders for sales. Unfortunately for seafood companies, the same romance of “farm raised” has not translated to increased sales for farm-raised fish.

After a trip to Norway hosted by the Norwegian Seafood Alliance to learn about farm-raised salmon, my perceptions of aquaculture changed dramatically. No longer was I convinced that “wild” seafood is the best choice from a nutritional or a sustainability perspective. Seeing with my own eyes and experiencing the wonder of this amazing fish, I knew that this was a cause that I had to take on.

My Work: Knowing the power of influencers, I convinced Verlasso to bring a select group of RDs to Patagonia, Chile to experience an aquaculture immersion program in one of the most beautiful places on Earth where salmon are raised in harmony with nature.

While doing some research for an article that I was writing on sustainable seafood, I learned about Verlasso and their unique practices. Through feed innovation, this seafood company had taken the concept of sustainable seafood a step further by reducing the amount of fish needed to feed their salmon to produce a pound of flesh.  Known as the “food ratio,” traditionally, salmon need to eat roughly 4-5 pounds of (small) fish to produce 1-pound of flesh. Verlasso had reduced the food ratio down to nearly a 1:1 ratio. It’s no surprise they are listed as an “eco-friendly” fish by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch ®.

Dietitian-Influencers Travel to Patagonia, Chile

Traveling abroad with peers and having the space to have an open dialogue with farmers, scientists, marketers, chefs and executives provides RD influencers with first-hand knowledge and experience to communicate key points to their specific audiences. For this trip, we had a chef-RD expert, a marketing-agency RD, a sustainability-focused RD and a Retail RD (myself).

The trip included visits to:

  • Welcome Event, Introductions & Networking
  • Feed Plant & Hatchery to Observe the Salmon Life cycle
  • Boat Tour to Visit State-of-the-Art Fish Farming Operation
  • Salmon Tasting Event Featuring A Variety of Culinary Applications
  • Hike of Local Area To View Volcano

Choosing the right RD influencers is important — As a seasoned expert in the field, I have a broad network of RDs to choose from. In addition, balancing the number of invited guests with the right mix of company personnel is also a consideration among many other variables that make for a memorable and impactful trip.

Hire Me to Plan Your Brands RD Influencer Event

You don’t need to bring dietitians to a destination at the end of the Earth to make an impact of a lifetime! Whether you’re brand is seeking to host an event at your corporate office, a farm-tour, or a fun off-site program co-located during another event, I’m passionate about planning unique educational programs that get dietitians excited to engage with your brand. Let me help you!

Writing About Farm-Raised Seafood and AquacultureRDs-Patagonia_Verlasso

With nearly 90,000 dietitians in the U.S. and roughly 800 retail dietitians, its next to impossible to invite everyone on a farm tour to learn first-hand about your product. So, after experiencing my first visit to an aquaculture operation in 2011, I was inspired to use my professional writing platform to communicate about sustainable seafood and aquaculture. My “Retail RD” column appears in Today’s Dietitian Magazine. In addition, I’ve written for Progressive Grocer, Environmental Nutrition, The Chicago Tribune, Washington Post and numerous blogs and lifestyle publications. 

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Changemaker Barbara Ruhs, MS, RDN, is transforming public health by re-envisioning the way food is understood and promoted. A seasoned supermarket dietitian and former Harvard nutritionist, Barb leads the way by offering innovative retail solutions that forge connections between food marketers, market RDs and consumers hungry for truth.


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