With more emphasis on locally sourced meat and vegetables, and a new respect for business transparency, it’s only a matter of time until customers will be able to tell exactly where everything on their plate comes from. Often times it’s up to the restaurant owner to tell their customers what’s on the menu. However, a new program called Trace and Trust has taken an extraordinary step towards seafood transparency.

Trace and Trust is program developed last year by the fishermen of New England in collaboration with local area restaurants. The general idea is to allow both restaurant owners and their customers alike to know exactly where their seafood came from.

Chef Derek Wagner, thought-leader and first “customer” of Trace and Trust shared his thoughts with the Chefs Collaborative blog:

“We have established a direct connection from source to end user that had not been available to us here. We are able to fish responsibly, shorten the distance, time and handling, support local community and put forth dishes to our guests that are not only fresher than anything they’ve ever had, but thoughtfully procured and prepared for them. We are able to give them information about product, source and method in a way that they’ve never had access to before. It is truly exciting and special work.”

 

Most locally-sourced restaurants print a daily menu, which makes it easy for the restaurant owner to print the Fish ID’s that Trace and Trust creates, right on the menu. If not, they can display a separate menu or add an insert. This allows any customer to use their phones to visit the Trace and Trust website to find out more about where it came from, and when.

Richard Garcia | Source: Cleanfish.com

James Beard recognized Chef Richard Garcia didn’t hesitate to jump on board with Trace and Trust, even implementing QR codes. He writes in his blog:

“It is very easy to source locally and put on my menu “Rhode Island Fluke” but what about the story of when, where, how and who? How to share this information with my guests in a way that is keeping up with today’s fast paced technology driven world? How to give my guests real time information that I am not afraid to share? Well this is where the QR code comes in. Scan the code and it takes you to a website designed to trace my fisherman’s catch from the moment they catch is hauled. Captains Chris Brown & Steve Arnold upload the information ( who, when, where and how) and a fish ID is assigned to each species caught.”

Garcia has been testing QR codes on his menu, enabling customers to pull out their smartphones and “track” their fish. It’s getting a great response.

Additionally, Trace and Trust have local Facebook pages that show customers where their fish are coming from and to which restaurants they’re going. Knowing that a restaurant uses Trace and Track can certainly give restaurant-goers more faith and trust in the businesses that use the program. Frozen fish? Never!

And the benefit to the restaurant owner? Wagner has nothing to complain about, saying, “I can call my fisherman now and ask him when and where he is going fishing. My fisherman can call me from his boat, at sea, telling me what the weather is, how far out to sea he is, what waters the fish are biting in, and exactly what and when he’ll be able to get to my kitchen that day. It’s incredible.”

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