Before reading about our incredible Adventure of sustainable seafood at Whole Foods, I’d like to introduce myself.

My name is Eric Milburn and I am TEDxMileHigh’s Adventures Intern. I am a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh where I studied Spanish and Communication. In school, I developed a passion for meaningful discussion in interactive settings. I created an organization that students could join to debate, argue, and speak about issues pertaining to the world. Now that I am out of school, I searched for something where I could exercise this passion and contribute to an organization where opinions and learning matters. The Adventures program at TedxMileHigh is an impeccable fit for me. So, as an intern, you can expect me to email you information, facilitate discussion, write exciting blog posts, and contribute to the interactive spirit that our Adventures encompass. Now, let’s get started.

How well do you know your seafood?

Our Adventure with Whole Foods brings us Coloradans as close to the sea as possible (in a land-locked state). Amanda Demo who is what we would call a “seafood connoisseur” passionately informed our adventure enthusiasts about sustainable seafood. She has also acted as Whole Foods’ seafood buyer for several years. From the problems of over fishing to the types of seafood to search for in the grocery store, we left that day with a much deeper understanding and awareness of our where our seafood comes from.

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Sustainable seafood refers to fishing practices in addition to seafood consumption that benefit both the environment and overall health. I felt a little uniformed but was relieved to discover that everyone else was just about as confused as I was. Nevertheless, we were there to learn as much as we could in an interactive atmosphere.

As the adventurists started to arrive, they sat down on the Whole Food’s patio in a pleasant setting that our Adventures team created. While they chit chatted with the loquacious bartender, Amanda prepared for her informative speech. She spoke to the small crowd of curious folk as we all listened intently. When she finished her brief introduction, all the questions started pouring in and the mood got a little more rambunctious. We were surprised to learn that something so simple that we experience so often had a much deeper complexity than many of us imagined.

Later, the best part commenced: the hands-on demonstration of oyster shucking. Each person was given three oysters; each from a different seaside location in the United States. With an impenetrable pair of gloves, a sharp oyster tool, and some elbow grease, everyone flexed their muscles as they tore into the formidable oyster shells. Oh boy, I’ve never seen so much determination than watching two eyeballs fixed on the hidden crease of the shell while their countenance screamed, “open sesame!” Eventually, most everyone got the hang of it and the popping of shells was audible to the entire neighborhood. It was a beautiful sight.

My turn came up as I shuck my very first oyster and slurped down the tasty seawater booger. I won’t say it was the greatest treat I’ve ever tasted, but certainly was a memorable texture. That said, it was a first for many in this fun demonstration and the laughs were priceless memories shared amongst us new fisherman.

The night came to an end on this joyous occasion. Most everyone left with a much greater knowledge of the way seafood affects not only our health, but our environment as well. Another unforgettable adventure ended in smiles and brought the sea to the mountains. I can’t wait to see what the next adventure brings us.

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How can you use your buying power to support sustainably raised seafood?

Check out the MCS (Marine Stewardship Council), ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council) and the Monterey Bay Aquariums Seafood Watch program. The good folks behind the seafood counter at Whole Foods are also great resources. And last – oysters are one of the most (if not the most) sustainable seafood option you can purchase.

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As a sponsor of TEDxMileHigh, Whole Foods helped us raise almost $18,000 to support our mission of spreading big ideas and elevating inspired citizenship in Colorado. We were honored to take part in their Community Giving Days program and thank everyone who came out to support us by shopping at Denver-area Whole Foods Markets on August 29th!

As part of the activities surrounding  It’s About Time, our Women’s event on October 28th, we’re hosting another Adventure with Whole Foods.