New Gulf of Maine Seafood Guide in Five Languages
We are excited to share a new Gulf of Maine seafood guide translated into five languages spoken in our local communities. These translated guides result from a project partnership between the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Good Shepherd Food Bank, and Hannaford Supermarkets. Our three organizations partnered to understand local immigrant seafood habits because of our shared interest in increasing consumption and access to local seafood. Strong immigrant communities from all over the world have recently settled in Maine and other parts of the Northeast, and we know that many local immigrants come from countries with well-established seafood cultures. We are all keenly interested in ensuring that local seafood is accessible and available to the broadest diversity of consumers possible, and we wanted to learn more about immigrants’ experiences accessing seafood here in Maine.
We are grateful to the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation for funding a series of focus groups with immigrants in the Portland area. During the spring of 2022, we hosted five focus groups with 39 participants from 13 countries in partnership with Portland Adult Education. Hannaford generously donated $40 gift cards for each participant as compensation for their time. Good Shepherd Food Bank staff member Khadija Ahmed, an immigrant herself who has lived in Maine for for over 20 years, led the facilitation of each focus group.
Below are six key themes we heard from participants:
- There is overwhelming interest in eating more seafood than they currently do, and many are used to eating seafood more frequently in their home country.
- Structural barriers, primarily financial, have a substantial effect on purchasing – other barriers include housing, time, and transportation.
- Whole fish is in high demand and difficult to find.
- People need to gain knowledge of local species but are curious and open to local seafood.
- Most are shopping at multiple stores for seafood to find different species and formats.
- There is high confidence in cooking seafood and no need for recipes.
Based on what we heard in these focus groups, we created a resource to help people become more familiar with the range of fish, shellfish, and sea vegetables we have in the Gulf of Maine. The online guide we created shares information about different categories of fish based on what they are like to cook. The guides are available in French, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, and English. Additionally, we created a brochure that will soon be available at seafood counters in Hannaford stores, sharing information about a few local species commonly found in Hannaford and leading people to the in-depth guides online via QR code. Good Shepherd will also distribute brochures through partners that lead people to the guides, which can be found on the Gulf of Maine Research Institute’s website at: www.gmri.org/local.