Christina Dewitt on fish

Recently I spoke with Christina Dewitt, the Director of the Seafood Research and Education Center in Astoria. We thought about the possibilities of serving Oregon’s seafood in schools.

Coho salmon is an iconic Oregon fall fish, but it is expensive. Pink shrimp is another great option, but she cautions that students may have an allergen to shellfish.  She likes the idea of serving sole and rockfish in school lunch and suggests that an even better price would be Pacific Whiting. Conveniently, is a sustainable Oregon fish. It is important to know how to cook Whiting, as it falls apart easily, just like sole. It could be pan-fried or put in a stew. Oregon has an abundance of Whiting and much of it is sold overseas currently.  Whiting is a good source of protein.

Just like produce on land, fishing has a season also. Whiting might be caught through October and then the season will be over. The expense of seafood as a school protein could be countered by cooking an entrée that extends the product, such as a stew or soup

Preparation:

Whiting has a white flesh and can be filleted for meals. It is often sold frozen, which is a great way to preserve it. Some fish is also canned. She is not sure if Whiting is canned. Whiting is the fish used to make imitation crab, another option of a Whiting product in schools.

Questions that still need answers:

  • Is there a certification that schools need for seafood, such as GAP for produce?
  • Danger of choking on bones?
  • Ask processors; are there hurdles or barriers they have run across in trying to sell to schools (perhaps similar to meat)? Are there USDA standards for seafood?

Suggested contacts:

Dr. Jae Park from the Seafood Lab

John Lin at Pacific Seafood

Bio: Christina A. Mireles DeWitt graduated from Texas A&M University in 1989 with a B.S. in Food Science.  She completed her M.S. thesis “Complex mechanisms of chitosan and naturally occurring polyanions” and her doctoral thesis “Recovery and utilization of catheptic proteases from surimi wash water” at Oregon State University.  She spent 7 years working for commercial food testing laboratories, AMSI and then Silliker.  Her last position at Silliker was as Chemistry Operations Manager.  She spent 10+ years at Oklahoma State University in the department of Animal Sciences and was housed since 2008 in the Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center.  At Oklahoma State University her research was focused on improving the nutritional composition and safety of fresh meats injected with brine solutions, detection of allergens and the extraction and identification of antimicrobials from fruit and vegetable processing waste.  She taught Food Chemistry I, Food Chemistry II/Advanced Food Chemistry, Food Analysis, Processing Dairy Foods, and Introduction to Food Science.  Recently, she accepted a position at Oregon State University.  She currently serves as the Director of the Seafood Research & Education Center and is an associate professor in the department of Food Science & Technology.  Her current research interests are focused on improving seafood quality, safety, and utilization.

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