From Head to Tail, LoveTheWild’s Bold Commitment to Transparency
By: Bill McCool
So that tilapia you had for dinner last night? Chances are it was raised on a farm.
Half of the fish consumed globally has been raised via aquaculture and with marine ecosystems inching towards collapse, consumers will need to grow even more accustomed to the idea of eating farm-raised fish rather than seafood that’s been caught in the wild.
And that’s where LoveTheWild comes in. This innovative Colorado startup is selling frozen fish that have been entirely raised on a farm through responsible and sustainable methods.
“This isn't your average frozen fish,” LoveTheWild’s co-founder Jacqueline Claudia says.
Jacqueline fell in love with aquaculture’s potential to solve the world’s long term health and sustainability challenges after working on the Velella Project, a system of raising fish in mesh spheres in the open ocean (it was also one of Time Magazine’s Inventions of the Year in 2012). Jacqueline also spent some time scaling a yellowtail farm in Mexico. “I met so many brilliant and dedicated scientists, she says, “growing the most delicious and resource efficient protein on the planet.”
However, when it comes to fish, Americans are well behind the rest of the world. “Only one in 10 Americans meet the USDA recommendations for fish intake,” she says. “It's not a knowledge gap. People know they are supposed to eat more fish, but they are intimidated by the process of selecting and cooking great fish at home.”
So Jacqueline and her partner Christy Brouker started LoveTheWild with the simple idea of pairing sustainably farm-raised fish with a bold, handcrafted sauce that could be served freezer-to-plate in less than half an hour.
“I thought there was room for a consumer brand to come in and take away all that fear and intimidation,” Jacqueline says.
In just three years, they went from making fish kits in a commissary kitchen and delivering them to a handful of grocery stores, to now getting financial backing from actor and noted environmentalist Leonardo Dicaprio (he also sits on their advisory board).
It’s easy to see why so many folks want to align themselves with their growing enterprise. When Claudia talks about farm-raised fish being one of the most resource effective proteins on the market, she’s not joking. For every metric ton of fish raised via aquaculture, only half a metric ton of feed is needed, meaning that farm-raised seafood is actually a protein producer and has less of a carbon footprint than beef and pork. Aquaculture manages to not only take pressure off of dwindling wild fish stocks, but they’re just as good for you as farm-raised fish have the same omega-3 content as their counterparts that have been caught in the wild.
Their packaging also helps to dispel some of the negative connotations surrounding aquaculture while also celebrating a lot of the suppliers they work hand in hand with. LoveTheWild managed their design internally and worked with freelancers like Natalie Legg, going through more than 100 packages until they decided on a box that featured many of their natural ingredients within the outline of a fish. But part of what makes the packaging so effective is that they tell you the name of the farm where the fish was raised as part of a commitment to transparency, a promise to their customers that they have nothing to hide.
“To me, sustainability is an almost meaningless buzzword,” Jacqueline says. “What matters is knowing where your food comes from and being able to dig a bit deeper to decide for yourself if that source matches your ideals.”
They even managed to make the entire package recyclable, from the sauce tray right on down to the compostable parchment included for cooking the fish. Best of all, consumers can find little factoids all over the packaging to help them learn about how farmed fish can support communities, the environment, and their health.
“We wanted to make it easy for customers to know exactly what they are eating,” she says, “and at the same time celebrate our supplier partners who are making the sacrifices to bring the aquaculture industry to the next level of responsibility.”
With the potential collapse of seafood fisheries by the year 2048 and the omnipresent dread of ocean acidification and climate change, we can only hope that more companies like LoveTheWild will challenge the way we eat in such a responsible and ethical manner.
Bill McCool is a freelance writer based out of Los Angeles. Though new to the world of design, he has always been a storyteller by trade and he seeks to inspire and cultivate a sense of awe with the work and artists he profiles. When he's not winning over his daughters with the art of the Dad joke, he is usually working on a pilot, watching the Phillies, or cooking an elaborate meal for his wife.