Friday, November 4, 2011

Fresh Pond Seafood of Arlington Mass., Prioritizes Accurate Seafood Labeling

Editor's note: this is the second in a series of articles, at The Weekly New England Travel and Vacation Gazette, focusing on Massachusetts seafood restaurants and sellers that say that they are committed to accurate labeling of their seafood. Seafood mislabeling has been a hot topic in the news lately as the Boston Globe recently wrote about many seafood restaurants and markets in the area not labeling their seafood correctly).

I recently had a chance to talk with Marty Hagerty, owner of Fresh Pond Seafood in Arlington, Mass., about the recent seafood mislabeling controversy,  covered by the Boston Globe. He emphasized that they would never mislabel any of their seafood: "I can tell what I'm buying."

Those words have a lot of weight, given Fresh Pond Seafood in Cambridge gained a household name reputation in the area. Marty's father opened that store about 35 years ago until its closure in 2006. Marty, 48, and in the seafood business for more than 25 years, recently opened his new location -- a fish market that also has four booths for dining in -- at 75 Summer St. in Arlington.

Hagerty expressed disappointment in other seafood restaurants and markets involved in mislabeling their seafood. He cites Nantucket scallops as an example of a seafood that can be mislabeled or "cheapened."

"We sell Nantucket Bay scallops at certain times of the year -- very expensive -- but some, I'm sure, mix in cheap scallops and try to pass it off as Nantucket scallops," said Hagerty. "I think (in general) many of these people that got caught mislabeling knew what they were selling. Just my opinion."

Hagerty's main sea scallops supply comes from George's Bank in Boston -- very different than the "processed" or "wet" scallops that are quite commonplace.

"Basically, with processed scallops you throw 500 pounds of scallops into a vat with chemicals and they blow up, looking very pretty," said Hagerty. "When you cook them, though, they shrink! We use the 'dry' scallops from George's Bank that have no chemicals added."

Other properly labeled seafood sold at Fresh Pond Seafood include: shrimp, lobster meat, halibut, salmon, flounder, scrod, haddock, Bluefish, catfish, sea bass, snapper, Mahi Mahi, steamers, mussels, little necks, cherrystones, oysters, tuna, grey sole, swordfish, soft shell crabs, Maine crabmeat, crab cakes, trout, stuffed clams and shad roe.

Hagerty doesn't mind Fresh Pond Seafood being inspected, as he clearly takes pride in selling his seafood as labeled.

"I welcome any inspections," said Hegarty. "I know what I'm buying. I've been going to the pier since I was 17!"

Editor's note, part II: restaurants and fish markets in the Boston area, please write us about your business that doesn't mislabel seafood! We will consider calling you back for an interview. Thanks!

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