Catriona Frankitti running a seafood workshop.

Putting seafood on everyone’s plates

People living in the Stirling area are being invited to a series of talks and tastings to show that tasty and nutritious seafood doesn’t have to be expensive.

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The Seafood Matters UK two-day free event taking place tomorrow and Friday is being hosted by the University of Stirling and features activities such as ‘Come Dine with Cat’, where seafood enthusiast and educator Catriona Frankitti promises to get children enjoying pickled herring and tinned mackerel.

Forth Valley College chefs and Start Up Stirling food bank will be showcasing the winners of their competition to create the best fish supper from donated items, and experts from Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture (IoA) and from the universities of Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Lancaster will host sessions such as and ‘Cheap and tasty seafood dinners – analysed for nutrition and environmental impact,’ as well as exploring ‘frontier foods’ such as seaweed.

Professor Dave Little: "Can we afford to ignore this cheap, delicious and nutritious food?"

Former staples

Organiser Professor Dave Little, of the Institute of Aquaculture, said: “The herring, mackerel and mussels of the UK’s coasts used to be a staple in our diet, but somehow have fallen out of favour. The point of this event is to say, given the cost of living and environmental crises we face, can we afford to ignore this cheap, delicious and nutritious food we have in our own larder?”

A panel discussion offering diverse perspectives on the future of the seafood sector takes place at 3pm tomorrow and features Hamish Macdonell, strategic engagement director of Salmon Scotland, the trade body representing salmon farmers and the supply chain.

The panel also includes Ally Dingwall, from the Aquaculture Stewardship Council, mussel farmer Jude Brown, oyster farmer Patrick Blow, and Rhianna Rees, from the Seaweed Academy at the Scottish Institute for Marine Science.

Tastes formed early

While the focus of the event is on the most affordable seafood, getting families into the habit of seafood eating more fish and shellfish offers a future benefit for the whole aquaculture industry.

“Our tastes are formed before we reach five years old, so it’s important to introduce children to lots of different foods early,” said Frankitti.

“Nutritionally, oil-rich fish is great for heart, skin and bone health, yet most of us don’t eat anywhere near the UK recommended amount. My workshop aims to get children and parents thinking about seafood in a new light.”

Canned fish

Forth Valley College chefs worked with food bank Start Up Stirling to create recipes using often-donated items such as canned fish, which staff at the food bank had noted were not often chosen by their clients as they said they didn’t know what to cook with them.

Gareth Davies, chef manager at Forth Valley College, said: “Our student chefs were excited to take up the challenge of coming up with healthy and tasty meals using less well known and cheaper seafood products that can be found in supermarkets and are products regularly donated to Start Up Stirling.

Raising awareness

“Not only will Seafood Matters raise awareness of the tasty health benefits of including seafood in people’s diets, but it has also increased the knowledge and skills of our students, who are finding out much more about the fruits of the sea.”

Seafood Matters UK runs at Stirling University’s Pathfoot building from 10am tomorrow, June 23 to 7pm on Friday, June 24, with the public workshops and activities between 5pm and 7pm on Thursday. The event is free, but registration is encouraged.

Find out more and register here.