Recently I read a few articles online about a seafood company that has been backed by Leonardo DiCaprio called LoveTheWild. The Actor/Activist/Smooth Customer is dedicated to the health of our oceans and is a big supporter of sustainable and responsible aquaculture. Although I am a supporter of wild-caught fish and traditional fishing communities, I do like the idea of aquaculture – if done right – playing a part in getting us to eat more fish. Love The Wild is not a fish farm, they source their fish from highly regarded aquaculture ventures like Australis and Pacifico.
After exploring their website I noticed an image of their striped bass that gave me pause: the skin-on fillet had the distinctive broken lines I would associate with a hybrid striped bass (striped bass/white bass cross). This led me to contact LoveTheWild to find out if what they were selling was actually hybrid striped bass. For the record I have nothing against hybrid stripers, or “wipers.” Jacqueline from the company not only gave me some great information about LoveTheWild, but also got me in contact with Pacifico Aquaculture. Their chief scientist Dr. Valerie Williams explained in great detail how their brood fish are from various wild stocks, which has led to some of their fish having a broken line pattern. I later learned that there are several stocks along the US East coast known for having fish with broken lines. These are true striped bass, genetically identical to the fish I’ve caught my whole life and the first of their kind to be farm-raised in sea cages.
In my opinion, if we are to rely on more farm-raised fish to meet our seafood demand, these are the species that are better suited to the task. Barramundi and newly introduced farmed striped bass are being raised using best practices, are not infested with sea lice, and don’t need the antibiotics or the feed with artificial dye that has given farmed Atlantic salmon such a bad name. Their sea cages are less crowded and do not pollute the area around them. The red trout are raised in a raceway system and are fed a diet of crab shells and algae with naturally occuring astaxanthin, to give the fish their red color.
What I also like about this concept is that by using barramundi, striped bass, red trout and domestic catfish instead of salmon and swai, these aquaculture endeavors do not directly compete against our wild salmon fisheries or domestic catfish farms and the communites that depend upon them.
After my inquiry, LoveTheWild generously gave me a sampler of their four current products. They are indvidual frozen meals complete with sauce that you assemble with very little fuss. For around $10 you can get a restaurant quality seafood dinner with the convenience of a frozen pizza. For the first dinner I prepared the Red Trout with Salsa Verde for my wife and the Striped Bass with Roasted Red Pepper Almond Sauce for myself. A few days later I tried the Barramundi with Mango Sriracha Chutney and my father sampled the Catfish with Cajun Cream.
LoveTheWild packages their products as single serving frozen entrees. The outer box is loaded with information on the fish including where it was raised, how it was raised and what company supplied it. This allowed me to do further research into the company’s suppliers and they all look like top-notch facilities. Far removed from the horror shows that have marred the reputation of farm-raised fish.
The small box holds a 6 oz skin-on fillet, of red trout, striped bass, domestic catfish or barramundi. The sauce comes in three-individual “hearts”. The fillets, in their vacum sealed and frozen state looked pretty good, although I have no experience with red trout. The striper however looked like a nice personal fillet from what I would call a “schoolie.” The skin-on piece of barramundi looked thicker and overall better than my previous experience with this fish.
Once removed, the fillets were in very good shape and still frozen solid. The heart shaped sauces were easily pushed from their container. From a waste standpoint, it was obvious LoveTheWild is very effiecient in its packaging, with nearly all of it heading to my recycle bin.
In their mission to have Americans eat more sustainably raised fish, LoveTheWild has made their entrees nearly as easy as a frozen pizza. The fish is cooked from frozen once it is topped with cubes of frozen sauce and sealed in the provided parchment. Three basic steps. I took the box’s advice and added some vegetables, in this case baby spinach, to the pouch.
The red trout has a slightly quicker cooking time than the striped bass but will not pose a problem as long as you keep an eye on it. Barramundi took about 30 minutes. You can even switch out parchent for foil and put these on the grill. I must admit I had a little trouble with the parchment and may opt for foil in the future. But if you know how to make a successful paper airplane, you should be able to handle it.
I’m impressed. I really didn’t know what to expect but the two of us really enjoyed our dinners. Both sauces were very tasty and the fish was clean and fresh tasting. I don’t ever recall having farm-raised fish outside of a restaurant setting that tasted so good. The striper tasted like striper and the red trout reminded me of wild, not farmed steelhead. Meanwhile my dad, the Striper King, sampled the cajun catfish with my mom and reported back that it was delicious. They are not familiar with fresh water catfish but they both said it was very tasty, a different texture than they are used to, and that the sauce was absolutely delicious.
No taste of mud, no fish tank flavors, just good tasting fish in just the right amount of sauce so you get to taste everything. The pairing of sauce style to fish is spot on and each one is very distinct from the others. The sauces are so good that if for some reason this venture don’t work out, they should seriously consider selling the sauces, really they are that good.
My overall opinion is there is a lot to like about LoveTheWild and having a few of these in the freezer could really spice up a weeknight dinner in an instant. It may not be as cheap as a frozen pizza, but cheaper than decent Chinese Take-Out, and a big step up in quality and much more healthy. Without a doubt LoveTheWild, gets my recommendation.
Good job Love The Wild!