Patagonia, the iconic outdoor sporting-goods brand, is getting into the food business with its Patagonia Provisions line, and the first product release is. . . salmon jerky. That’s right, the company notes food as a tremendous departure from its core business, but says the move represents founder Yvon Chouinard’s mission to “increase awareness about key environmental issues and prove that good practices can lead to profitable business as well.”
Patagonia says the initiative was inspired by its success with a switch to organic cotton in 1996. After Patagonia altered its entire line of products to be made with 100% organically-grown cotton, many other companies followed suit. The company hopes it can once again lead an industry-changing movement.
“In recent years, salmon populations have become increasingly troubled, suffering from extreme over-fishing, poor corporate and governmental oversight, and complications resulting from commercially farmed salmon,” Patagonia noted in a statement. “With Patagonia Provisions, Patagonia aims to become part of the solution, tapping into authentic First Nation’s practices and conservationist ideals to provide healthy and sustainable wild salmon for consumption.”
What exactly are these First Nation’s practices? The term First Nations refers to a group of about 600 Native American governments or bands spread across Canada. Working with Canadian conservation organization Skeena Wild, Patagonia sources its salmon from sustainable, in-river fisheries that use tangle-tooth nets, beach seines and traditional First Nations fish wheels and dip nets.
Patagonia claims these selective-harvest techniques ensure that endangered salmon populations are allowed to survive and spawn. Patagonia Provisions’ salmon jerky comes only from fully mature fish caught in their prime in the river where they were born. They are caught upstream of any tributaries that may have endangered runs.
The company’s salmon jerky was just announced, and we have not yet tried it out. At $12.50 for a 2oz. package (or $35 for a sampler pack), the food is far from a budget meal. It does, however, tap into a market of affluent, environmentally-conscious consumers, the same people who have known and loved Patagonia clothing for decades.
“For Patagonia, a love of wild and beautiful places demands participation in the fight to save them, and to help reverse the steep decline in the overall environmental health of our planet,” Patagonia says. That’s a mantra most people can get behind.
—Sean McCoy is a contributing editor based in Denver.