Michigan native Marie Rose ships amazing wild salmon back to her home state!
by Ari Weinzweig
In his book Culture Care, artist Makamoto Fujimora writes that, “A healthy culture is impossible without the participation of artists and other leaders who are educated intellectually, trained experientially, formed spiritually, and growing morally. Beauty is both a goal and a catalyst for each of these elements.” I couldn’t agree more. The idea that life and business and community are all art has continued to build for me—the learning path I got on in writing “The Art of Business” pamphlet resonates with me more all the time. People who will bring that kind of beauty are quietly, but effectively, making the world a better place, one meaningful action at a time.
With her work at Shoreline Salmon, all the way out in Alaska, Marie Rose is bringing art alive in the very practical here and now. She seems certainly to be the sort of person to which Mr. Fujimora is referring, someone who is working to both preserve natural beauty and, at the same time, bring a small briny bit of that beauty to the rest of us in the form of some of the best tasting salmon in the world. And now, I’m happy to say, the freshly caught, meticulously-handled salmon we get from Marie and her partners is on the specials list this week at the Roadhouse!
So how did a girl from a Battle Creek start a business catching and shipping salmon all the way in the Pacific Northwest? “I went to Michigan State and got a degree in Social Work,” Marie shared. “Most of my advocacy work in college was focused towards women’s issues: reproductive justice and domestic violence awareness. When I accepted a job in Alaska focused on salmonconservation, it was on a total whim. That’s what grounded me in creating this life in salmon. I’d never even eaten salmon before I moved there. In fact, I hated salmon. I realized once I was here that I’d never had good salmon and that’s why I didn’t eat it.” Fortunately, her good work with Shoreline is making it possible for more and more Michiganders to experience salmon in its superb, wild, delicious state. Five years after heading west “just because,” Marie is now a passionate fish buyer, a partner in a growing small business, a purveyor of some of the best salmon in the country, and someone who’s creating a constructive and sustainable future for a famous, if at times, faltering, fishery.
“Why is your fish different?” I asked. “Our salmon is all pressure bled,” Marie shared. “It takes a lot more time. We immediately cut the gills out and take the artery out and we insert this tiny hose that goes right into the main artery and flush the blood out really quickly and then we gut it. When the salmon is bled and gutted so quickly it really increases the quality of the fish. Most people don’t use the pressure bleeding—there’s just not a general sense of urgency to handle the salmon all that well.” What’s the alternative to the methods Marie, Joe, and Keith are so committed to? Basically, it’s the lower quality salmon that dominates the market. It’s not as fresh; the flavor and integrity of the fish has suffered significantly long before it gets close to a consumer. “The way we’re doing it with Shoreline,” Marie says, “people get paid a price [higher than ‘market’] that’s worth their while.” While it might seem mundane to be framing finance and craft in the same construct, this is exactly the sort of meaningfully artistic way to live that Fujimora suggests we find. Shoreline is not just some slick, superficial marketing campaign—their product is markedly better than most of what’s on the market!
King salmon like this can weigh in at well over a hundred pounds, and the flavor of the fish is terrific! Meaty, big flavor, clean finish! If you haven’t had wild salmon before—and sadly—most Americans who live outside the Pacific Northwest might not—you’re in for a treat. Please know that every time you order it, you’re helping to preserve the natural beauty that has become a calling for this caring young woman from Battle Creek. And to help her spread that beauty, through better eating, into our own community here.