Sustainable Salmon, Please
Bamboo Sushi owner Kristofor Lofgren
// Photo by Joseph Eastburn
Before Kristofor Lofgren opened his first Bamboo Sushi restaurant in southeast Portland in 2008, he noticed a disclaimer on other restaurants’ menus that said something along the lines of “Whenever possible, we source sustainably.”
“To me, saying ‘whenever possible’ negates everything that comes after that,” Lofgren says. “We decided to say that we only ever source sustainably, because that’s a statement that means something.” Five years later, Bamboo Sushi has two thriving Portland locations following that practice to the letter by sourcing sustainable seafood from around the world, largely direct from fishermen themselves. The restaurant only sources seafood that meets strict sustainability guidelines set up by the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Blue Ocean Institute, which help businesses and consumers purchase seafood that’s fished or farmed in environmentally friendly ways. Among many green certifications, the restaurant became the first sushi eatery in the world to be certified by the Marine Stewardship Council.
Bamboo is able to source some of its roughly 50,000 pounds of seafood each year here in Oregon, including some albacore, pink shrimp, oysters and sea urchins. Oregon salmon, however, has yet to work its way to the top of Bamboo’s list.
“We get some salmon in Oregon,” Lofgren says, “but it’s not as consistent as the supply we get from Alaska” in terms of quantity and quality. That said, Lofgren’s big- picture view is that more and more purveyors demanding sustainable seafood will lead to better fishing practices and healthier supply chains all over the globe, including in Oregon. Already, he says, Bamboo Sushi has helped inspire big-time players like Whole Foods Market and even McDonald’s to up their commitment to sustainability. Throw in the possibility of improved Oregon salmon runs in the future and Lofgren is encouraged.
“We would love to source as locally as we can,” he says. “We are excited by the salmon runs returning this year, and if we end up seeing a multi-year recovery, we will be more than happy to be out there supporting that.”