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While other kids grew up playing soccer or riding bikes in their backyard, Arron Kallenberg was raised on his family’s commercial fishing boat in Bristol Bay, Alaska, home to the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world.
After spending 15 years working at internet startups, Kallenberg returned to these fishing roots, incorporating his knowledge of technology to create the subscription-based Wild Alaskan Company.
Its mission is simple: the service delivers wild-caught seafood from Alaska and the Pacific Northwest to everywhere in the US except Hawaii.
And the seafood from these regions of the country isn’t just delicious, it’s also more environmentally friendly than your typical supermarket fish selection. That’s because Alaska mandates directly in its constitution that seafood must be maintained on the sustained yield principle, which prevents the long-term depletion of natural resources.
How it works and what to expect
All year long, the company offers sockeye salmon, coho salmon, Alaskan halibut, and Pacific cod. Depending on availability, it also stocks rockfish, wild Alaska pollock, sablefish, and weathervane scallops.
You can’t get this seafood a la carte. Instead, items are bundled together into various plans: the Wild Salmon Box (6-ounce portions of salmon), Wild White Fish Box (6-ounce portions of white fish), and Wild Combo Box (6-ounce portions of both types).
You have the choice between 12 single portions ($10.99 each) or 24 single portions ($9.99 each), to be delivered every month or two months. The 12-portion plan has an additional $9.95 shipping charge, while shipping is free for the 24-portion plan.
The fish arrives frozen in a dry ice-packed, insulated cooler, ready to be stashed in your freezer or cooked immediately.
I love eating fish but don’t buy it often when I go grocery shopping due to either lack of availability at my local market or confusion about the fish’s background and sourcing.
While I think Wild Alaskan Company could be even more transparent about its suppliers and processors, I liked at least knowing that the service sources from sustainably managed fisheries and was created by people who care about the wellbeing of natural food systems. Senior reporter and resident fisherman Owen Burke also advises using Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch consumer guide and complete recommendation list to look up the safety and sustainability of the specific fish you receive.
All in all, I felt like I could spend more time and energy simply enjoying the fish.
Wild Alaskan Company sent me its Wild Combo Box to test out. The monthly assortments can vary, but at the time, my box contained sockeye salmon, coho salmon, Pacific cod, halibut, and pollock.
The fish isn’t “fresh” in the traditional sense — it isn’t sent to you shortly after being caught. Rather, it’s “fresh-frozen,” (otherwise known as flash-freezing), which means it’s frozen shortly after it’s caught and handled.
This method, used by indigenous Inuit communities, actually helps retain the taste and texture of your fish, plus it lets you enjoy all types of seasonal fish year-round.
By comparison, some of the seafood you see at grocery store counters may be older than you think, and it’s not unlikely that it was previously frozen. Some seafood departments, such as the one at Wegman’s, even throw out their fresh fish after two days.
In the end, eating fish that’s frozen properly is less wasteful, and you don’t have to sacrifice taste and texture. My box of fish tasted great: flavorful, tender, and flaky.
The monthly membership design is meant to ensure you’ll always have a flaky piece of salmon or halibut ready to cook for dinner. However, if at any point you want to pause, skip, or cancel your membership, you can do so in your account settings.
As we’ve already seen with the online meat boom, there’s a greater urgency to think more consciously and carefully about where your food comes from and its effects on the planet.
Wild Alaskan Company is the direct-to-consumer equivalent in the fish and seafood industry, so whether you already love eating seafood or wish you had more guidance picking out the right types, it’s a service you should consider trying.
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