At Eating with the Ecosystem our mission is to promote a place based approach to sustaining New England's wild seafood, through healthy habitats, flourishing food webs, and short, adaptive supply chains. 

Eating with the Ecosystem is an educational effort to design and promote a place-based approach to sustainable seafood for New England. By fusing the ecological knowledge of marine scientists and commercial fishermen with the culinary creativity of the region’s most innovative chefs, the project advances a dining paradigm that channels a deep understanding of the special places in the ocean that produce the seafood we enjoy. Our "recipe for resilience" entails balancing our seafood consumption across the marine food web and nurturing marine ecosystems as wild food sources, with the participation and expertise of the entire local seafood value chain.

Ocean ecosystems provide the last wild food on earth: seafood that nourishes eaters, supports fishing communities, and connects humans to the marine environment. In the last century, these ecosystems – and the people who depend on them – have come under assault from climate change, habitat loss, and a mass-market incentive structure that encourages extraction of large volumes of a select few species. The result is an ocean ecosystem that fluctuates rapidly, eludes the efforts of fishery managers to predict harvest yields, and pins hardworking fishermen between changing natural abundances and a rigid market.

Some people claim that the solution is to turn the oceans into farms, mass-producing the most popular fish to satisfy consumer demand. Others say the oceans should just be left alone, that eating seafood is a luxury that twenty-first century consumers can no longer afford to enjoy. We defy both of these claims. Without the seafood that connects us to the worlds off our shores, our relationship to those underwater worlds – and our incentive to care for them – would be surface-deep. And turning the oceans into fish farms means replacing complex, wild natural ecosystems with simplified monocultures. Both of these are false solutions. But then again, so is business as usual. We propose a fourth path: it’s a strategy that we call “eating with the ecosystem”.

Eating with the ecosystem means matching our seafood consumption to the rhythms of nature. It means supporting biodiversity in the sea by harvesting a diversity of seafood. It means understanding the oceans as complex food production systems – not as dumping grounds for refuse nor simply as underwater wildlife preserves - and engaging consumers in taking care of the oceans' wild food production capacity while supporting local fishermen as members of their communities.

OUR RECIPE FOR RESILIENCE: BALANCING SEAFOOD CONSUMPTION ACROSS THE MARINE FOOD WEB...

An ecosystem-based diet is one that brings the needs of the human body in tune with the needs of an ecosystem – a bridging of the nutritional food pyramid with the ecological food web, if you will. A basic ecosystem-based diet replicates the effects of natural predators by consuming wild sea creatures in proportion to the abundance in which they naturally occur. At its most basic level, an ecologically based seafood diet begins with simply eating, in moderation, a wider variety of foodstuffs from the ocean. It is no coincidence that the most popular finfish in New England – cod and other groundfish – have suffered depletion over the last four decades. During this time, less popular species, such as dogfish and skates, have apparently taken their place in the ecosystem. At the same time, climate change is causing some species to grow in numbers, others to shrink, and still others to new geographic areas. As local seafood species become more variable, consumers can play a positive role by being flexible in their seafood choices.

...AND NURTURING MARINE ECOSYSTEMS AS WILD FOOD SOURCES. 

Sustaining the wild seafood that we love is not only about the choices we make at the seafood counter. It's just as important to sustain the big picture: the natural ocean ecosystems that produce our seafood, and the fishing boats that harvest it. New England's ocean ecosystems and fishing fleets are facing unprecedented challenges. Greenhouse gas emissions are making ocean waters warmer and more acidic. Combined with decades of intense fishery exploitation and habitat loss, such as damming of rivers, this has led to big changes in the availability of our favorite seafoods. Meanwhile, rising fuel costs, complex regulations, and environmental change make for tough times for our dwindling fishing fleet. Do your part by learning where you seafood comes from -- and what we can all do to support vibrant fishing communities and fertile marine ecosystems. 

WHY WE NEED A NEW APPROACH TO SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD

Over the last decade, sustainable seafood campaigns have made great strides in educating consumers about the need to evaluate a species' stock status before putting that species on our plates. But these campaigns have been missing one critical element: the ecosystem. Species do not exist in a global vat, each one swirling around independently of the other. Instead, they exist in place-based, interdependent regional ecosystems.

An ecosystem is the complex of a community of organisms and its environment functioning as an integrated unit. Global sustainability campaigns are not able to incorporate ecosystem concerns into their definitions of sustainability because these campaigns are not based on any single ecosystem. But thanks to the burgeoning local foods movement, a place-based conception of sustainability is now possible. 

Eating with the Ecosystem promotes a new approach to sustaining seafood that is local, place-based, and takes into account the whole ecosystem. In contrast to global sustainable seafood campaigns, which are based on single species/stocks and work via consumer choice, our philosophy is based on places and works via collaborative dialogue and systems thinking. Through this framework, we emphasize the unique factors that shape the dynamics of the special places in the ocean that produce our food. 

Learn more about our place-based approach to sustaining wild seafood by checking out our 5 Anchors

Board 

Sarah Schumann President Sarah fell in love with fishing while teaching English in coastal Chile in 2000. This inspired her to earn a degree in Marine Affairs at URI and get a job on a lobster boat after college. She went on to obtain a shellfishing license, become a salmon cannery machinist in Dillingham, AK, and complete a masters’ in environmental policy. She is active in fisheries education, marketing, and activism in New England and Alaska. She started Eating with the Ecosystem in 2011.

Sarah Schumann
President

Sarah fell in love with fishing while teaching English in coastal Chile in 2000. This inspired her to earn a degree in Marine Affairs at URI and get a job on a lobster boat after college. She went on to obtain a shellfishing license, become a salmon cannery machinist in Dillingham, AK, and complete a masters’ in environmental policy. She is active in fisheries education, marketing, and activism in New England and Alaska. She started Eating with the Ecosystem in 2011.

Katie Eagan Treasurer Katie is a second-generation commercial fisherman from Bristol, RI. She traps lobsters, conchs, scup, and crabs from a 32’ boat and digs for shellfish along the shorelines. She graduated from URI in Marine Affairs and spent two years in the Peace Corps in Fiji helping communities to develop coastal plans. Katie sits on the boards of the RI Whelk Association and Save Bristol Harbor and is co-PI on a whelk co-management project in partnership with URI. Katie spoke at the Eating with the Ecosystem dinner in February 2013 at Nourish restaurant, Lexington, MA. 

Katie Eagan
Treasurer

Katie is a second-generation commercial fisherman from Bristol, RI. She traps lobsters, conchs, scup, and crabs from a 32’ boat and digs for shellfish along the shorelines. She graduated from URI in Marine Affairs and spent two years in the Peace Corps in Fiji helping communities to develop coastal plans. Katie sits on the boards of the RI Whelk Association and Save Bristol Harbor and is co-PI on a whelk co-management project in partnership with URI. Katie spoke at the Eating with the Ecosystem dinner in February 2013 at Nourish restaurant, Lexington, MA. 

Kira Stillwell Secretary Kira grew up in Rhode Island as the daughter of a shark biologist, where she formed strong connections with the fishing community and a love of seafood. In her day job, Kira is Program Administrator at the Rhode Island Natural History Survey, where she answers phones, sends email blasts, manages memberships and organizes Survey events, and is the bookkeeping, human resources, and payroll department as well. In that role, Kira supports the Survey's numerous programs, from wildflowers to coyotes to turtles, but in her heart she is “a water girl” whose favorite ecological zone is the shore and marine environment. She brings a rich knowledge of nonprofit administration to Eating with the Ecosystem's board.

Kira Stillwell
Secretary

Kira grew up in Rhode Island as the daughter of a shark biologist, where she formed strong connections with the fishing community and a love of seafood. In her day job, Kira is Program Administrator at the Rhode Island Natural History Survey, where she answers phones, sends email blasts, manages memberships and organizes Survey events, and is the bookkeeping, human resources, and payroll department as well. In that role, Kira supports the Survey's numerous programs, from wildflowers to coyotes to turtles, but in her heart she is “a water girl” whose favorite ecological zone is the shore and marine environment. She brings a rich knowledge of nonprofit administration to Eating with the Ecosystem's board.

 
Rodman Sykes   Rodman has been a full-time fisherman for 43 years. He fishes on his 68-foot dragger, the Virginia Marise, out of Pt. Judith, RI. Rodman is on the boards of the Point Judith Fishermen’s Memorial Foundation and the RI Commercial Fishermen’s Assocition. He also participates in collaborative research projects with Brown University. He has been invited to speak on several panels about the effects of climate change on fisheries. Rodman spoke at a private Eating with the Ecosystem dinner for the Brown Club at Hourglass Brasserie in April 2013. 

Rodman Sykes
 

Rodman has been a full-time fisherman for 43 years. He fishes on his 68-foot dragger, the Virginia Marise, out of Pt. Judith, RI. Rodman is on the boards of the Point Judith Fishermen’s Memorial Foundation and the RI Commercial Fishermen’s Assocition. He also participates in collaborative research projects with Brown University. He has been invited to speak on several panels about the effects of climate change on fisheries. Rodman spoke at a private Eating with the Ecosystem dinner for the Brown Club at Hourglass Brasserie in April 2013. 

Syma Ebbin Syma Ebbin serves as both a professor at the University of Connecticut’s Avery Point campus and the Research Coordinator for Connecticut Sea Grant. Her research has focused on subsistence harvesting, marine spatial planning, and participatory management in coastal communities. She has served on multiple fisheries management and research committees and has worked with Native American tribes in the Pacific Northwest. During graduate school she also spent time commercially fishing in Alaska.

Syma Ebbin

Syma Ebbin serves as both a professor at the University of Connecticut’s Avery Point campus and the Research Coordinator for Connecticut Sea Grant. Her research has focused on subsistence harvesting, marine spatial planning, and participatory management in coastal communities. She has served on multiple fisheries management and research committees and has worked with Native American tribes in the Pacific Northwest. During graduate school she also spent time commercially fishing in Alaska.

Jon Cambra   Jon is a Bristol-based chef who is currently at Roger Williams University. He has nearly 15 years of experience in the restaurant industry. After training at the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont, he served as executive chef at local restaurants The Boat House in Tiverton and Castle Hill Inn in Newport. Under his leadership, both restaurants received national awards and rankings. While at the Boat House restaurant in Tiverton, he led the preparation of a spectacular Eating with the Ecosystem dinner.

Jon Cambra
 

Jon is a Bristol-based chef who is currently at Roger Williams University. He has nearly 15 years of experience in the restaurant industry. After training at the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont, he served as executive chef at local restaurants The Boat House in Tiverton and Castle Hill Inn in Newport. Under his leadership, both restaurants received national awards and rankings. While at the Boat House restaurant in Tiverton, he led the preparation of a spectacular Eating with the Ecosystem dinner.

Sharon Benjamin Sharon has been fascinated by marine life since as long as she can remember, and is motivated by her love of the outdoors and the coastal landscape to work for a better relationship with our environment. She works as Spatial Data Analyst at NOAA Fisheries Social Sciences Branch in Woods Hole, MA, and has a master's degree in Coastal Environmental Management from Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment. She tries to take advantage of living in beautiful Cape Cod by kayaking, birding, and occasionally fishing for bluefish.

Sharon Benjamin

Sharon has been fascinated by marine life since as long as she can remember, and is motivated by her love of the outdoors and the coastal landscape to work for a better relationship with our environment. She works as Spatial Data Analyst at NOAA Fisheries Social Sciences Branch in Woods Hole, MA, and has a master's degree in Coastal Environmental Management from Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment. She tries to take advantage of living in beautiful Cape Cod by kayaking, birding, and occasionally fishing for bluefish.


Staff

Kate.jpeg

Kate Masury
Program Manager

Kate is a New England native, having grown up in Southern Maine. She comes to Eating with the Ecosystem after finishing a masters program at Scripps Institute of Oceanography in San Diego, California, where she focused on sustainable seafood and fisheries. She brings with her research and communications experience (check out the wonderful website Kate developed as her masters project: www.followyourfish.com).  Kate leads many of Eating with the Ecosystem's programs, including a project in partnership with the University of Rhode Island that will provide the scientific backing to support all of Eating with the Ecosystem's work - a template for eating local seafood species in proportion to their natural abundance. 

Kate can be reached by email at kate@eatingwiththeecosystem.org


Contractors

As a small organization, we rely on a wide spectrum of part-time contractors to lead various programs.

Dawn McAlister- School of Fish Dawn and her fiance Trip run End O'Main Lobster in Wickford, RI, and Dawn is active in leading the charge for greater local market integration for Rhode Island seafood. Dawn leads Eating with the Ecosystem's School of Fish workshop series at Hope & Main. Dawn can be reached at endomainlobster@gmail.com.

Dawn McAlister- School of Fish

Dawn and her fiance Trip run End O'Main Lobster in Wickford, RI, and Dawn is active in leading the charge for greater local market integration for Rhode Island seafood. Dawn leads Eating with the Ecosystem's School of Fish workshop series at Hope & Main. Dawn can be reached at endomainlobster@gmail.com.

Dave Rocheleau and Julia Bancroft - Seafood For All Dave Rocheleau is executive chef at Crossroads RI and a former member of the RI Food Policy Council. Julia is a GIS certificate student at URI and member of the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program staff.   Since late 2014, Julia has been handling product procurement for our Seafood for All program, and Dave has taken the lead on educating food pantries and customers about using local, under-appreciated species. 

Dave Rocheleau and Julia Bancroft - Seafood For All

Dave Rocheleau is executive chef at Crossroads RI and a former member of the RI Food Policy Council. Julia is a GIS certificate student at URI and member of the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program staff.   Since late 2014, Julia has been handling product procurement for our Seafood for All program, and Dave has taken the lead on educating food pantries and customers about using local, under-appreciated species. 

Thank you to our funders and partners!

Eating with the Ecosystem started activities in 2012 and incorporated as a nonprofit in 2014. As we have grown, we have depended on the collaboration and generosity of many friends, funders, and partners. We are deeply indebted to the following groups and individuals for helping us on our path to designing and promoting a place-based sustainable seafood paradigm for New England.

THE PUBLIC: Much of our funding comes in the form of small donations from the public. Members of the public also play a vital moral support role, encouraging us to push forward with our vision! You can get involved in our work by making a contribution or volunteering for Eating with then Ecosystem.

UNIVERSITY OF RHODE ISLAND: The University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography received a NOAA Saltonstall-Kennedy grant in 2016-2018 to partner with Eating with the Ecosystem to devise "ecosystem-based" seafood marketing strategies to complement the push for ecosystem-based fisheries management in New England. The project will assess the degree of symmetry between New England marine ecosystems and seafood markets, and better understand barriers and opportunities associated with achieving a closer match between the two.

FOOD SOLUTIONS NEW ENGLAND LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE: Our board president Sarah Schumann was accepted into the first  Food Solutions New England Leadership Institute in Fall of 2016. Through this training opportunity, she has met other food leaders from around New England and learned more about how to connect Eating with the Ecosystem's vision to the New England Food Vision of obtaining 50% of our region's food from local sources by 2060. 

RHODE ISLAND FOUNDATION CENTENNIAL GRANTS: The Rhode Island Foundation's Centennial Grants were awarded to each of Rhode Island's cities and towns in 2016 to commemorate the hundred-year anniversary since the Foundation's founding. Eating with the Ecosystem is handling administration and support for a Centennial Grant awarded to a group of Point Judith fishermen to create and install 10 interpretive signs to raise awareness about the history and future of the state's premier fishing port.

RHODE ISLAND NATURAL HISTORY SURVEY / RESILIENT FISHERIES RI: Eating with the Ecosystem is playing an outreach support role in a project called "Resilient Fisheries RI", which was made possible through a NOAA Saltonstall Kennedy grant to the RI Natural History Survey and is coordinated by our board president, Sarah Schumann (wearing a different hat). In summer of 2017, Eating with the Ecosystem will help disseminate findings from this project to the public through four food-related education events focused on environmental change and Rhode Island fisheries.

RHODE ISLAND FOUNDATION ORGANIZATIONAL DEVELOPMENT GRANTS: The Rhode Island Foundation Initiative for Nonprofit Excellence builds the capacity of nonprofit organizations so they can better achieve their missions. The Rhode Island Foundation awarded Eating with the Ecosystem with an Organizational Development Grant for 2016 to strengthen our print, oral, and visual communications strategy.

HOPE & MAIN: Eating with the Ecosystem is proud to be a member of the Warren, RI-based culinary business incubator Hope & Main. We host our School of Fish workshops in Hope & Main's demo kitchen, and frequently participate in Meet Your Maker markets to get out the word about our programming and meet the culinary creatives who make the space vibrant.

RHODE ISLAND'S LASA GRANTS: The Local Agriculture and Seafood Act (LASA) grants, made possible through the support of the State of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Foundation, the Henry P. Kendall Foundation, and the van Beuren Charitable Trust, generously provided Eating with the Ecosystem with funding to support our Seafood for All pilot project in 2015-2017.

ECO-RI INC. : ecoRI Inc. acted as our fiscal sponsor when we first started up. ecoRI is a unique initiative devoted to educating the public about local environmental and social justice issues and how they interconnect. The nonprofit accomplishes its mission in separate but linked ways: investigative reporting, community journalism, educational programs, public outreach, green consulting, and compostable food-scrap collection.

FISH LOCALLY COLLABORATIVEThe Fish Locally Collaborative is a decentralized network of community fishermen and their allies that works to promote a healthier ocean through community based fisheries. The FLC unites fishermen, fishing families, scientists, community organizers, policy reformers, youth activists, new economy leaders, food system advocates, and many more through a dynamic and flexible collaborative that achieves both policy that works and socio-economic-political power that lasts. Members of the FLC and the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance have provided mentoring and friendship along the way.

TOYOTA TOGETHER-GREEN: The National Audubon Society and Toyota launched the five-year TogetherGreen initiative in the spring of 2008 to fund conservation projects, train environmental leaders, and offer volunteer and individual action opportunities that significantly benefit the environment. Eating with the Ecosystem's Sarah Schumann was lucky to be selected as one of 40 conservation fellows in 2012. Fellowship funding supported ten ecosystem-based restaurant dinners in Rhode Island and Boston.

PROVIDENCE PROVISION: Eating with the Ecosystem was privileged to win the February 2012 Providence Provision, a grassroots funding model where contestants pitch their ideas to attendees during the course of a home-made meal, and one winner takes the proceeds. We garnered $600 of start-up funds through this process, and had a great deal of fun in the process.

Press coverage for Eating with the Ecosystem

"Wast Not, Want Not," by Christy Nadalin, East Bay Times, November 16, 2016.

Interview with Sarah Schumann of Eating with the Ecosystem, Good News RI, June 2015.

"Underloved and Delicious," by Taylor Witkin, SustainFish, November 5, 2014.

"Eating Seafood Responsibly," by Frank Carini, ecoRI News, September 11, 2014.

"Salty Dames," by Jenn McCaffery, RI Monthly, June 2014.

"Eating with the Ecosystem: Gulf of Maine," by Jake Kritzer, EDFish, October 25, 2013.

"What's Cooking in PVD? Trend No. 6: Ocean to Table Eating," by Grace Lentini and Julie Tremaine, October 22, 2013.

"Interview with Sarah Schumann of Eating with the Ecosystem," by Rachel Cossar, The Daily Meal, October 12, 2013.

"Sustainable Eating with the Ecosystem," by Rachel Cossar, Foodista On Pointe, October 12, 2013.

"Eating with the Ecosystem's Floating Feast," by Liza Burkin with photos by Tyson Bottenus, Edible Rhody Blog, October 2013. 

"Eating in Place," by Antonio N. Farzan with photos by Michael Salerno, Newport Mercury, October 2, 2013.

"Eat Locally, Think Sustainably at an Eating with the Ecosystem Dinner," by Linda Laban / Nosh On, Metro Boston, October 2, 2013.

"Eating with the Ecosystem: Alewives, Anyone?" by Peggy Hernandez, Boston Globe, October 1, 2013.

"Getting Trashed: New England Fisheries Offer Sustainable Food," in Edge Boston, August 23, 2013.

"Eating with the Ecosystem at Boston's Ten Tables," by Lucas Knapp and Frank Barrie, Know Where Your Food Comes From, May 7, 2013.

"Eating with the Ecosystem: Georges Bank," by Jake Kritzer, EDFish, April 26, 2013.

"Nourish to Serve Local Fish Dinner with a Side of Science," by Patrick Ball, Lexington Patch. February 26, 2013.

"Lexington Eatery Takes Local Food to Next Level," by Marc Filippino,  Lexington Minuteman. February 21, 2013.

 "Sea-Food Differently: Taking an Ecosystem-Based Approach to Eating," by Dale Rappaneau, Providence Monthly. February 2013.

 “Under every stone, an edible treat: A new way to eat seafood,” by Sarah Schumann 41°N. Fall 2012.

“Eating with the Ecosystem: Dining on the treasures of the sea at the Hourglass Brasserie,” by Genie McPherson Trevor with photos by Stephan Brigidi. Edible Rhody. Winter 2013.

"Eat More of What Narragansett Bay Has to Offer", by Jim McGaw, East Bay newspapers, August 31, 2012.

"RI Fisherwoman Wins Conservation Fellowship" by Amy Beaudoin, SO Rhode Island, August 2012

"Sea Change: Navigating the Waters of the Local Fishing Industry" by Rebecca Remillard with photos by Melissa Stimpson, SO Rhode Island, July 2012.

"Eating with the Ecosystem," by Katey Parker, Hand Picked Nation, March 19, 2012.

"Fresh Catch: A New Dinner Series Puts the Spotlight on Sustainable Seafood" by John Taraborelli, in Providence Monthly, March 14, 2012

"Dinner Series Has Purpose" by Gail Ciampa in the Providence Journal, March 14, 2012

For press inquiries, please contact Sarah Schumann at sarah@eatingwiththeecosystem.org.

 

 

TEDX Providence 2013

Eating with the Ecosystem's founder and board president Sarah Schumann was invited to share some innovative ideas about eating seafood at TedX Providence on May 12, 2013. Her talk was titled "To Save Our Fisheries, Eat Like a Fish."