Dan and Kristin Donovan of Hooked launch Canada’s first Slow Fish chapter

Dan and Kristin Donovan of Hooked launch Canada’s first Slow Fish chapter

“The power we have as consumers is tremendous!” says Hooked’s Kristin Donovan (Image: Signe Langford) 

Good, Clean and Fair. That’s the battle cry of Slow Food International, the Italy-based organization with a mandate to enlighten everyone to the joys and importance of real (i.e., non-industrial) food and give proper respect to the unsung heroes who produce the stuff. Sure, some dismiss it as a sort of conscience-assuaging supper club for the well-to-do, but the group, founded in 1986 by Carlo Petrini, does have a mandate to give back to the community at its core. Recently, Slow Food extended its reach to include food taken from the sea as well. Slow Fish is about supporting artisanal fishing and introducing eaters to neglected and often delicious fish species, while asking them to think about the state of the planet’s waters—and Toronto’s Hooked is leading the charge.

Co-owners Dan and Kristin Donovan have taken on the challenge of starting up and running Canada’s first Slow Fish convivium (the Slow Food word for “chapter”), part of Slow Food Toronto. Kristin is still working on the group’s mission statement, but she knows what she wants to accomplish. “We want to facilitate a better relationship between the consumer and the fisher people,” she told us. Donovan says she’s been able to educate customers one at a time at the couple’s Ocean Wise-approved shop on Queen East, but this new association will provide a farther-reaching platform.

Look for events ranging from school visits (complete with sustainable fish lunches) to guided Lake Erie fishing trips with small-boat fisher folk, and even a “trash fish” cook-off. (Donovan tells us there’s a wealth of delicious fish currently being caught and trashed because it’s of no commercial value—yet.) There will also be lectures by marine biologists on the state of fish stocks and by First Nations elders on the old ways of catching sustainably. Of course, with Sea Watch and Ocean Wise already educating consumers and chefs about seafood choices, we wondered how Slow Fish is any different. Donovan explains: “Ocean Wise, for example, is primarily concerned with fishing practices and the health of the stocks. Slow Fish is concerned with all of that, and we want to highlight the small guys, the native fisheries—we want to celebrate our fishing heroes!”