Duncan Berry, our CEO, founded Fishpeople after serving on a governor’s marine reserve committee for Cascade Head on the central Oregon Coast. He was inspired by the communities strengths and challenges that came to light during this time.
That was almost 3 years ago. At the stroke of mid night on Jan 1st 2014 – the work and dream of a completely protected area off the coast of Cascade Head went into effect. It covers an area 3 miles out from shore and approx 6 miles along the coastline south of Cascade Head.
This photo, taken on the Westwind beach, shows other members of the committee and community members including representatives from the The Westwind Stewardship Group and the Salmon Drift Creek Watershed Council. Oregon is very lucky to have this extraordinary opportunity to find out what happens when we restrict the taking of wildlife from ocean habitats.
This has been an incredible year for our little company. But the highest form of compliment came in the from of the email I received from the spouse of one of our Brand Ambassadors. Thank you Eric, for all you do – and for taking the time to write.
Blessings for a new year!
- The fishpeople team
We’ve met, briefly, but we don’t know each other well. I like your product, though, and Fishpeople entrees became a feature during the disaster response in the Philippines last month.
I used to be Chairman of a Department of Medicine at a medical center but I now do humanitarian medicine for a living. A brief bio is in my signature. I’ve led teams, for the Navy, for FEMA, and for Google, in more than 15 events, including the tsunami in Banda Aceh, Katrina, Hurricane Sandy, the Haiti earthquake, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Bosnia.
When Supertyphoon Haiyan hit I was working deep in rural Mexico. I knew it was coming, as all professional responders around the globe knew. We’d all seen monster storms before, but this one was off the charts. Since I was badly out of position, I arranged to serve as reachback for the teams deploying forward with the UN, the American Red Cross and others. I served that function, 24/7, for about a week, in Mexico and here on Bainbridge Island. Then the Roddenberry Foundation, founded by Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, contacted me and asked if I’d lead a team for them. They’d never deployed a team before and asked me to form, equip, and take any team I built to the field to deliver water, food, medical care, and communications. I agreed and we left 72 hours later.
I knew the places we were going were in exceptionally bad shape. The villages we’d be working in had been completely submerged under fifteen feet of water for much of a day, and during that time the winds above that storm surge averaged more than 170 miles per hour. The storm held that intensity over a swath 100 miles wide and 400 miles long and leveled everything in its path on a dozen Philippine islands. Thousands died, the regional economy was destroyed, and the out-migration was almost total. More than 100 bodies were found in the rubble each day we were there and there weren’t enough people left to bury them.
As a team we had to be completely self-contained. Food, water, shelter, transportation, communications, medical care – everything. I spent a day in preparation, mostly at REI. At REI I was disappointed by the selection of food available to transport for the team. Everything they had except energy bars needed water and we had only enough for drinking (water is very heavy…). And we had no way to heat anything except to put it in the sun. There was no power, there was no light, the makeshift shelters of corrugated tin were deafening in the monsoon rains, and it was hot – more than 90 degrees indoors. Difficult circumstances.
At Demi’s suggestion I brought Fishpeople in my backpack. They’re compact, they’re sturdy, they last a long while without refrigeration, they’re varied in flavor, and a they’re a complete meal. After heating on a car engine for a few minutes, they’re acceptable to a surprisingly wide range of cultures. I had a mixed case of entrees with me in my backpack.
My team of 14 included three Americans and we found ourselves one Thursday night sleeping on the tile floor of a small, badly damaged primary school in Tacloban, the epicenter of the impact. It was the only roof on that block. We were returning from Tolosa and Dulag, south on the Leyte coast, and it had been a rough day. Rotting bodies, empty villages, ruined crops, untreated injuries, and so forth. We’d been out for about 14 hours, working in several communities, and we were pretty beat. It was very dark, it was raining again, and we remembered that, for us, over the dateline, it was Thanksgiving.
There was no electricity, but we had a single broad-beam LED flashlight that we rigged with a piece of shock cord and a carabiner to shine on a makeshift table. I had a satellite phone so called Demi and my daughters, then we pulled out my Fishpeople. We warmed the bags on the engine of our truck and poured them out onto our mess kit plates. They were delicious. I had the salmon chardonnay, but the most popular was the Thai lemongrass. We’d been gifted with some warm beers by the UNICEF team so that was Thanksgiving dinner and it was excellent. Fishpeople and beer by flashlight.
Thank you for the meals you’re making. I know you do it for the retail market and you should, but they were perfect for this deployment and we’ll use them again. Other team members, from Argentina, Italy, Mexico and elsewhere wanted to know about them and I’ve shared what I know and sent them to the website.
I’ll attach a few images. Unfortunately we did not think to photograph the dinner itself, but you’ll get a feel for the circumstances, and the team, and our very handsome Royal Australian C-130 aircraft. I’m the tall guy with the white beard and lime-green rainshell.
Photography provided by Lorenzo Moscia and the Roddenberry Foundation
We are nearing the end of the Albacore Tuna season. With unusually intense storms this past week – most of the boats were hunkering down to wait out the weather. That meant that we got the opportunity to chat with one of the fishermen that we sourced our Tuna from in our most recent production run! I would like to introduce you to Mike Quandt. He and his brother Tim grew up in their parent’s fishing operation on the F/V Angelique. After a life of commercial fishing – their parents didn’t want them to follow suit, but the brothers couldn’t shake the bug.
Tim became a refrigeration expert, and the two rejoined on the F/V Silver Lady where they long-lined for Halibut. Overtime, they studied the best ways to handle and chill their fish to ensure a premium product and then went into business for themselves. They now own and operate the F/V Sundancer and look for customers that appreciate their product that is handled with extreme care. We are proud to partner with these guys on this latest production run. Welcome aboard Quandt brothers – May the seas be kind to you!
So, I’ve been working for this seafood company for some time… but I have an admission. I didn’t know how to fish. Sure, I have some childhood memories of catching blue-gill and trout in glorified irrigation ponds in Michigan… but its not the same. Since my sojourn with Fishpeople, I have been surrounded by true-blue Oregonians… and yes, fisherman. In my time here I’ve realized that the phrase “I work for a seafood company” is code for “tell me your best fishing story.” Here’s the problem, I couldn’t volley back with any legit fishing stories.
Then, I got a very special opportunity. I was offered a guided fishing trip on the Siletz River just south of Lincoln City, OR. And just to add a touch of the surreal, the stars aligned so that my virgin fishing voyage would all be filmed by a local production company that is doing a TV segment on Fishpeople… more on that later. But let’s just say, the pressure was on!
My very capable guide, Silas Stardance of Riverhawk Guides was not only fun to hang out with, but also uniquely knowledgeable about this specific river. The locals boast that the Siletz was the “forgotten river” which can be a bad thing if you are hoping for development and economy, but is a pretty good thing if you are a Salmon. As a result, this river has one of the most viable populations of native salmon stocks in the region. Yet, the salmon weren’t exactly jumping into our boat. After eight hours and not so much as a nibble… I was about to chock it up to a beautiful day on a magical river and be happy with the few Dungeness crab I would call dinner. But then, it happened.
All three of the fishing poles we had in the water jumped at once! We had crossed paths with a school of Chinook entering into the river mouth after a long journey from Alaska. One popped off pretty quickly, the other struggled with my boat mate Sara, until it spit out the hook just feet from our boat. On the end of my line however, was a formidable opponent. We danced for what seemed like an hour and at one point (insert classic fisherperson tendency to exaggerate here), I thought I would surely lose my grip of the pole. Then there he was, just near our boat even more exhausted than I was. The most noble fish I had ever laid eyes on. His skin was beginning to turn gold from the new exposure to the fresh water and his eye was deep and soulful. What was likely a 40+ pound Chinook or otherwise known as a King salmon.
With an animal that special and rare, it wasn’t hard to let it go. A quick photo op, followed by a massage from Silas – and this King of the Siletz river was on to finish his last mission in life. Go forth and procreate my friend. May you avoid every hook along the way. And if you are caught, may that person see the scar I left on you and be inspired as I was – to set you free.
Whew! Where have we been?! Well, I can say it has been the most amazing 45 days ever seen in the history of Fishpeople.
A little while back, we realized that it was time to pick up our heads from our computers, kitchens and documents and get out of the office. So, out we went! We’ve been at festivals, talking to Costco customers in the region and even hosted our own Brand Launch party here at our offices! Our little team has given out over 45,000 samples and we spoke to at least 25,000 people… one at a time! Honestly, we all nearly lost our voices.
We learned what people loved about our products… and what they wanted to improve. We discovered how much kids loved our products and we felt proud of how we are bringing Omega 3′s into their lives. We’ve outfitted countless camping trips, stocked up folks heading to Burning Man, helped those who either love to or hate to cook find nourishment in those moments when they are too tired to do it all them selves… We understand better now what people want, and how to talk about what we do.
Meanwhile, in the background – we have been developing new products, bringing on new team members, and getting smarter about how we do what we do. So, I know that is no excuse for not blogging more, but I hope you enjoy the photos! You will be hearing a lot more from us over the coming months. In the meantime, please follow us on Twitter. In these jam packed summer days, sometimes less is more. Its sometimes too much fun to put into writing!
It sure is nice to have adventurous friends. We would like to introduce you to some folks that are out there – doing some amazing things… our guest bloggers Bri & Rob. We will be featuring stories from their adventures periodically, and imagine what it would be like to live on the open ocean for a while.
Hi, FishPeople Seafood Fans!
We’re Bri and Rob. We like long walks on remote beaches, exploring new horizons, dancing, fishing, writing, and eating. We’ve just embarked on a once-in-a-lifetime journey through the Pacific Ocean. We left our friends and family, quit our jobs, sold the cars and leased our house in Montana so we could set sail for western islands.
We started from Colon, Panama, aboard a 53-foot steel sailboat, called Llyr, crossing the Panama Canal. We crew with a family of 5 all the way to Tahiti. This voyage will take us across the largest and deepest ocean on earth. The Pacific covers one-third of the planet’s surface – more than all of the world’s landmass combined! – and its fauna feed billions of people. We’ll have to sail for ~40 days from Panama until we see land again in the Marquesas, the most easterly islands in French Polynesia.
What, you might ask, will we do cooped up on a boat for over a month? Fish, for starters. We’ll be trolling some lures in hopes of hooking a mahi-mahi big enough to feed our crew of 7. And we’ll be paying close attention to wind, waves, and clouds, since our lives will depend upon the sea and the weather. Llyr is also a research vessel, geared up to study the impacts of climate change on the world’s largest coral reefs, so we’ll be cataloging the chemistry of the water, as well as the species of birds, fish and marine mammals that we meet.
What does this mean for FishPeople fans out there? A direct connection to people on the very same ocean that brings you your tasty seafood treats. In fact, we may even see one of the fish that ends up in a yummy FishPeople pouch! We’ll be sending photos, videos and first-hand updates on the state of the Pacific’s fishery (and the state of some of those fish in creative meals cooked at sea!).
We only have one backpack each for the next couple of years, but they include all of the necessary tools for surveying the underwater scene: snorkel, mask, fins, fly fishing rod, saltwater flies, pole spear, camera and notebooks.
We can’t wait to share our tales of fish-y adventures with you. Stay tuned here for updates, or follow our blog, On The Horizon Line.com, to learn more about the deep blue depths that supply FishPeople with scrumptious seafood.
Thanks Bri & Rob! Can’t wait to learn more!
So, Fishpeople is back in the kitchen again! While we love our first four flavors – we know that we could riff for days on the theme of “fool-proof fish”! But how do you know when it’s good? Who is the authority on delicious? Well, we could bring on a celebrity chef, but Jaime was just too British, Emeril already has his own food line … and well, honestly all of them have too much hair gel.
So we did what we do best… we looked around in our back yard. Gratefully, we have such amazing talent here in the Pacific Northwest and an un-matched passion for indigenous cuisine. We also believe that the best work happens when we collaborate. We would like to introduce the Fishpeople Flavor Council:
- Becky Selengut – “Outstanding culinarian” and author of the book Good Fish – for which she was given the Seafood Ambassador Award by the Monterrey Bay Aquarium. She is not only talented but embodies a person who gives to the place she lives – by using her skills to raise money and capacity at several non-profits.
- Martha Holmberg – After her recent release of the book Modern Sauces, we knew that Martha was the perfect person to join our team! (In our opinion nothing goes together better than fish & sauce!) Her love and knowledge for local edibles culminated in her founding MIX magazine – the go-to periodical on the Portland food scene.
- Cory Schreiber – Cory is, in fact, a NW-style celebrity chef. The restaurant he opened, Wildwood, is a beacon for those who come to Portland to experience the food that is from this unique land. His insight, skill and recipe suggestions have taken this new round of products to a whole new height.
Like a collection of elders – these wise food ambassadors are helping us to craft not only delicious meals, but a way to use our community to help us create to our highest potential. Stay tuned – we have ten new recipes on trial – and like a good reality show, not all of them will make it to the end!
We can’t tell you all of our secrets just yet… but I can give you some hints. Think warm, brothy fishy soups for your rainy NW days when you just can’t make it to the Pho restaurant, hand-crafted pastas for when you need the extra energy to push to the top of your day, and sauces that make you the expert in kitchen or over the grill.
If you ever get a chance to speak with our “Flounder” Duncan Berry, just bring up the Salmon River and watch him get dreamy-eyed. The Salmon River originates in the Coast range and meets the ocean just North of Lincoln City where it forms a small, beautiful sandy Penninsula that is part of WestWind – a 529 acre ecosystem. His home on the Oregon Coast is perched such that he observes this river on a daily basis and it is a deep passion of his.
In the fall of 2011, Duncan and a band of merry scientists answered the question – “Where does this river come from?” I can assure you, they didn’t use Google Earth to answer that question, oh no… they walked there. Or more correctly, they walked from there. You can read all about this journey in the September 2012 issue of Oregon’s Magazine – 1859. (Or, you could just follow this link.)
Just this past weekend, when the temperatures were in the 30’s, Duncan decided it would be a perfect inaugural day as his new role as a volunteer Native Fish Society River Steward. So, yes, he went swimming. In the Salmon River. In January. On his underwater journey, he encountered ice – and a 25 lb Chinook Salmon hanging out. Native fish found…. Check.
So… when we say we are “Fishpeople” you can see… we mean it. Even beyond reason.
As new food brand, there are like a million certifications we can consider. Truly. Each one comes with a pile of paperwork, as well as a series of fees from the minor to the exorbitant. It’s important to dig deep and truly look at what motivates you as a company as well as what resonates with others.
Also, with each logo comes a community. By jumping through the hoops you become the member of a club of other like-minded companies. Well, we knew from the very beginning that we wanted to surround our selves with the community at B Corp. Unlike traditional corporations, Certified B Corporations are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their employees, suppliers, community, consumers, and environment. This resonates deeply with our company which is founded its success on not only its sales targets, but also its impact and it is hard wired through all of our corporate agreements.
B Corporations are a new kind of company, which uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. Fishpeople was created as a way to address a serious problem in our state – the Oregon coast has a depressed economy, at the same time one of our most precious resources, seafood, is almost entirely shipped out onto the commodity market. We created our company to find a way to keep the added value of a seafood brand in our local community, while educating consumers about the health and environmental benefits of making good seafood choices. We believe that B Corp is the only certification that truly gets what motivates us as a company. The certifications are issued by Blabs and there are currently over 660 B Corps worldwide.
We are psyched about the company we are keeping, please take a look at all the BCorps out there and support them with your dollars – these are good people.
All moments in time are significant in some way – but we as a world have wrapped up some major time spans – not the least of which is the 13th B’aktun as measured by the Mayan calendar. While I don’t have the cognitive ability (this afternoon) to write a thoughtful review of the past 5,125 years of humanism, I thought I might tell you a bit about the start of something really big…. Fishpeople Seafood!
So we technically began as a company last January when we filed with the state of Oregon and the Federal Government and got our corporate equivalent of a birth certificate. As we roll up on our first birthday it’s nice to recall the twinkle in Duncan Berry’s eye that began the momentum of this company. Our little pouches of fishy goodness are, in fact, an answer-in-the-making to a complex challenge. How do we support a food system that makes sense for our region and for our customers?
Starting at the coast and travelling inward through dairy farms and test kitchens, I sit from our office in NE Portland to report the following highlights of the past year:
- January – Fishpeople became an official corporate entity.
- February – Product development began in earnest with initial recipes being tested for final flavor.
- June - Teammates Karen McRae and Charlie Slate began showing their seafood knowledge by selling gorgeous fresh product at Farmer’s Markets around the Portland Area.
- July – We host a panel of consumers to try out 10 potential recipes to see what they like the best and they chose their four favorites, which became our first for products.
- August – We got accepted into UNFI’s distribution system and welcomed by New Season’s as our first retail partner!
- October – We land on shelves in New Season’s and Whole Foods Markets. We move in to our new office thanks to our friends at Classic Foods.
- November – We are officially joined by outside investors who also see the potential of our company.
- December – Starting to gain a little press through the Ecotrope Blog, the Oregon Sustainable Business Journal, and more!
We would like to express extreme gratitude for all those that we have worked with over the past year to make this all possible. 2013 is our year to shine. Stay tuned as we are back in the kitchen scheming up new products to be released before the salmon return!