As pioneers of the organic cotton manufacturing movement, California's Patagonia is always one to push their limits to provide a superior product that they're proud to put their name on. After a number of unsuccessful attempts to break into the food market over the last 30 years Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard finally found the right recipe—with salmon jerky.
Known for its arduous life cycle and epic spawning runs, salmon once formed the lifeblood of many communities across the Northwestern US and Canada. Now due to destructive commercial fishing practices wild salmon populations are diminishing at a drastic rate. In an attempt to help right those wrongs and bolster the species in the area, Patagonia Provisions teamed up with Skeena Wild, a British Columbia-based fish conservation organization to work with a select group of sustainable, in-river fisheries dominated by traditional First Nations techniques.
Patagonia only harvests select salmon species that are more abundant in the Northern BC area to support the local ecosystem. "We're using pinks whenever possible, as other species are being pressured by fisheries very heavily," explains Eric Neuron, director of Patagonia Provisions. "It's not like growing corn—populations change season to season." That said, each year Patagonia will reassess the local species populations and determine wether it's still sustainable to continue fishing Sockeye and Pinks.
By working with local First Nations communities who use the same tangle-tooth net, beach seine, fish wheel and dip net techniques they've been using for generations, Patagonia Provisions is able to be highly selective while fishing, allowing non-targeted species to continue up river to spawn unharmed. Not only is this beneficial for the ecosystem but it supports the First Nations economy as well, offering consistent and reliable work to communities often experiencing unemployment rates as high as 90%.
Patagonia was approached by local Terrace, BC smokehouse legend Harald Kossler to partner up under the mutual goal of providing the finest salmon products in the world. Together they established a new smoking facility capable of handling slightly larger batches of hot and cold smoked salmon, and the crew have developed three flavors of salmon jerky—black pepper, chili pepper, teriyaki—using all natural ingredients like salt, pepper, brown sugar and various home made hot sauces.
Patagonia Provisions' shelf-stable smoked salmon jerky is available at Patagonia brick-and-morter retailers and online. Neuron hopes to introduce a wider range of new recipes to market within the next few years.