Craig Morris , July 05, 2019
Achieving The Dream
Wild Alaska Pollock is as American as the Fourth of July
Published July 5, 2019
Photo: “independence pollock”
As I was scrolling through all the photos of American flags, backyard BBQ’s and fireworks displays on social media, I got to thinking about what it means to be an American. It’s more than just the trappings of the holiday: it’s a deep-seeded belief in our core that we can reach for the moon and the stars and achieve something. That we can “go for gold,” “pull ourselves up from our bootstraps” and build something out of nothing. That, right there, is the American dream.
Independence day is the day we celebrate our first American “underdogs”—a rag tag band of brothers, of colonists, who fought for freedom and justice from a tyrannical monarchy. Who fought against taxation without representation and the ability to control their own destiny. Despite being out-matched and out-gunned, they risked it all in the name of those ideals…and they won. Then, after years of fighting after losing husbands, and fathers, and brothers and friends, they had to come together to do the real hard work: build a country out of nothing but hopes, dreams and intuition.
It’s an amazing story and one I fear often gets lost amongst the sparklers and ice cream sandwiches. But it’s a story that defines us all—and one that should be told and remembered. I’ve worked for a lot of true American industries—I’ve represented American farmers of all shapes and sizes for most of my career. Ranchers that tamed the wild west and built empires, crop farmers that weather droughts and rain to plant row after row of corn that’s “knee high by the 4th of July,” and most recently pig farmers who have embodied the spirit of continuous improvement and work to literally bring home the bacon every day.
All of that got me thinking about our industry, the Wild Alaska Pollock industry. There’s nothing more American than building an industry around catching an elusive fish off the rocky and untamed shores of our “final frontier” Alaska. Nothing more American than the exploration of the fishery in the early days to determine its viability. Nothing more American than hiring men and women to risk their lives to cast nets and brave the high seas and catch fish day in and day out. There’s nothing more American than a group of passionate leaders coming together to do better for the local communities where they fish, for the environment and for the generations of fishermen to come.
It’s a story that needs to be told and one that I believe will resonate. The same passionate leaders that came together to create our fishery are those that came together to invest more of the industry’s money in the Association of Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers (GAPP). GAPP’s Board of Directors has set an ambitious agenda for the year, one that centers heavily around creating a narrative that will tell consumers about an amazing fish that most have little knowledge or awareness about. Part of the narrative development process will be determining which of Wild Alaska Pollock’s many amazing attributes we should highlight. Will it be the fact that it’s natural? That it’s wild-caught? That it’s sustainable or nutritious or delicious or versatile? Will the story be some combination of all of the above?
I think a big part of the American ideology is about winning. That’ what we have to figure out. How can Wild Alaska Pollock win in every category? Win with consumers’ hearts and minds? Win in restaurants and retailers when compared to other contemporaries, compared to other land-based proteins or even against the up-and-coming alternative proteins?
Our industry is much like our founding fathers: a heavy-weight in hiding, an underdog with a heart of gold and a spirit of a fighter and the desire, hope, dream and passion to succeed.
There’s nothing more all American than that.