A Clothing Company That’s Making Us Rethink Our Food Chain
From Sweatshirts to Salmon
We know what you’re thinking, and yes, Patagonia Provisions, is a business venture by the outdoor clothing brand we’ve all grown to love and trust. Patagonia has been focused on taking care of the planet from day one. Environmental awareness and a focus on sustainable and regenerative practices are synonymous with their brand.
It was just over 10 years ago when Yvon Chouinard (Patagonia founder) and Brigit Cameron started their new company, Patagonia Provisions. When asked why he started a company focused on food production, Chouinard responded “People need a new jacket every five or ten years, but they eat three times a day. If we really want to protect our planet, it starts with food.” They are taking principles of sustainability and innovation and applying them towards a new kind of future filled with deeply flavorful, nutritious foods that restore, rather than deplete, our planet; as Chouinard explains, “In short, I’m talking about foods that are a key part of the solution instead of the problem.”
Patagonia Provisions, now led by General Manager Paul Lightfoot, is passionate about not only finding sustainable and regenerative ways to produce nutritious full-flavored foods, but they are also developing standards that can be shared and utilized by other producers, and they are supporting research and development projects that have the potential to radically improve the current approach to food production. Together with several other brands, Patagonia has established Regenerative Organic Certified™, the world’s highest-bar organic designation. To earn R.O. certification, farms must meet high standards for soil health, animal welfare, and worker fairness.
Patagonia Provisions spent years of research to find sustainable commercial salmon fisheries and their hard work with fish biologists, conservation advocates, and NGOs, like the Wild Fish Conservancy, has paid off! All of their salmon are harvested from well-managed, place-based fisheries near the mouths of rivers. The sockeye salmon (also available seasoned with lemon pepper) is caught using short-set gill nets, a method that helps minimize bycatch.
A place-based fishery works with the knowledge that every run, or “stock,” of wild salmon has evolved to return to specific watersheds. While most industrial salmon harvest happens on the open ocean, where many different stocks mix and fishermen can’t know where the fish they catch came from, place-based fisheries are conducted in or near rivers of origin. Through a combination of timing and technique, place-based fisheries responsibly target wild salmon populations in a way that can sustain the harvest as well as minimize or eliminate harm to less abundant stocks.
Patagonia Provisions sources their mackerel from a fishery in the Bay of Biscay, in northern Spain, using hook-and-line techniques that have been passed down for generations. There is little to no bycatch. The fishery belongs to a traditional local cofradía, or fishing association, which shares profits and guarantees worker safety and other benefits. Patagonia Provisions works with the Good Fish Foundation in the Netherlands to ensure that the fishery stays sustainable.
These small, schooling fish have a satisfying, meaty texture and mild flavor and also pack a mighty punch in the nutrient department. They are an abundant fish and low on the ocean food chain, so make for a sustainable choice. Try their lemon caper mackerel or smoked mackerel; of the latter, Ari Weinzweig says, “This stuff is superb. Maybe even mind-blowing. Deliciously delicate, marvelously moist, only subtly smoky, and super flavorful.”
(Hooked on tinned fish? Find some of our favorite recipes here.)
Patagonia Provisions cultivates their mussels in the clean, protected bays along the coast of Galicia, in Spain. The mussels are native to the region and naturally thrive there due to the upwelling from the Atlantic Ocean that brings in nutrients and phytoplankton.
These mussels carry the EU Organic certification and naturally improve the quality of the water around them as they grow. They are rich in protein and iron and have the added environmental benefits of eating lower on the food chain. Unlike other farmed fish or animals, mussels require no inputs from the farmer—no feeds, no fertilizers, no freshwater resources.
We like to enjoy mussels straight out of the tin with their olive oil and broth (either smoked or savory sofrito). Or pair them with some Zingerman’s Bakehouse bread and a glass of your favorite wine.
Patagonia Provisions makes this delicious pasta with Kernza®, a revolutionary new grain. Unlike most grain varieties, which must be planted annually, Kernza is perennial, meaning it stays rooted in place from year to year. Its deep root system prevents erosion, nourishes the soil, draws down carbon, and produces slender grains full of warm, nutty flavor—just right for pasta. Their Kernza fusilli is our most recent addition to our lineup of products from Patagonia Provisions, and one that Deli Managing Partner Grace Singleton is especially excited about.
They combine Kernza flour with semolina for a pleasingly springy texture, then use bronze dies to shape and create a rough surface, which allows sauces to cling, saturating each forkful with flavor.
This year Patagonia is celebrating its 50th year in business, and they’re celebrating by “looking forward, not back, to life on earth,” adding, “Together, we can prioritize purpose over profit and protect this wondrous planet, our only home.” We’re thrilled to get to work with them and support their mission. We encourage you to visit Patagonia Provisions’ website to learn more about their products and the research they are putting into sourcing their food. It’s a treasure trove of information, there are studies, videos, fabulous recipes for seafood, and more!