Susan Moody: One restaurant’s quest for seafood sincerity

Susan Moody
Susan Moody, Emerald Coast Insider

I don’t care. I. Don’t. Care. I have said these words no less than 4,768 times in the last two weeks, and not because the Icona Pop song has been playing on constant rotation on the radio.

 The last few weeks of summer vacation has been trying at times, and I’ve gotten to the point where apathy is the best defense. I don’t care who’s breathing on you. I don’t care who’s elbowing whom. Unless you are in the midst of a Sharknado or zombie apocalypse, I’ve said, “work it out.” Because I do not care. While I’m secretly hoping that learning to manage bouts of boredom and irritation at one’s siblings is an important life skill, I’ve just decided that I’m not refereeing anymore.

I do care, however, about what we eat. With the end of the busy summer season, locals will once again come out of hibernation and start enjoying some of the best restaurants in town. At home, we do a fairly decent job of “whole food” eating, and thanks to my mother’s Celiac disease, I’ve become an excellent label reader. Although I don’t shop completely organic, I follow the “dirty dozen” guidelines, and we do our best to buy and support local.

Things can get a little tricky, however, if you are heading out to dinner.

According to a recent study conducted by the Environmental Advocacy Group, Oceania, more than 90 percent of the seafood served in restaurants is mislabeled, costing consumers twice as much when it comes time to settle the tab.

Experts are still debating the relative health and safety of farm raised versus naturally harvested fish, but everyone can agree that consumers should be served what they order. According to the report, 87 percent of all commercial seafood is mislabeled, with tuna and snapper being the fish most often substituted, often for farm raised tilapia or rock fish.

Local restaurant owner, Charles Morgan has been an advocate for local food for decades, and he is taking his message of locally harvested, fresh gulf seafood to the virtual streets with a series of website PSA’s discussing the importance of local fish.

While Charles is of course, encouraging you to eat at his two restaurants, Camille’s and Harbor Docks, (full disclosure: they are two of my favorites in town), and he is also giving praise and kudos to other restaurants who commit to buying and serving local Gulf Coast seafood.

The Harbor Docks website lists restaurants who buy their fish from Harbor Docks Seafood, ensuring that their fish is caught locally. If your favorite restaurant isn’t on the list, that doesn’t mean they aren’t serving local seafood, so check out their website, give them a call or harness the power of social media to find out the pedigree of the “catch of the day.”

If you’ve been eating out around the Emerald Coast for any length of time, your palette and your taste buds will point you in the right direction.

You know what fresh local seafood tastes like, so trust your instincts when ordering and eating. Destin is known as the world’s luckiest fishing village, and people come from all over to experience our local, Gulf Coast seafood. I think we should do our part to support these local businesses and the sustainable, home grown seafood seafood industry. I know I will.

Follow Susan Moody on Twitter @susanjmoody and visit her blog, The Emerald Coast Insider, at www.emeraldcoasttreasurebox.com.