Wild Salmon Minyan
AAWSM is an informal buying club made up of forty to fifty Ann Arborites who are eager to support sustainable food practices, especially ones that involve, in Hesterman's words, "the best-tasting fish in the world." Twice a year, members order fish from a Washington-based fishermen's collective, which is shipped en masse and distributed by Hesterman and Seligman.
AAWSM began six years ago, the result of a business trip and a dinner party. Hesterman, who is president and CEO of the Fair Food Network and has worked with food systems throughout his career, visited Lummi Island, Washington, during a site visit to the Pacific Northwest. There he met fisherman Riley Starks and learned about reef netting, a fishing method based on ancient Native American practices. The process is heavily regulated to prevent overfishing, and, unlike many commercial fishing methods, causes relatively little damage to the fish. The result is a high-quality salmon, which the Lummi Island Wild Co-op markets to restaurants and upscale groceries such as Whole Foods.
Shortly before Hesterman left the island, Starks shoved a frozen salmon in his backpack. "It won't leak," he reassured Hesterman. "Just try it."
By the time Hesterman arrived in Michigan, the sockeye was thawed and ready for his dinner guests. It was the best salmon they'd ever tasted. Hesterman called Starks and asked if the co-op would sell them fish directly.