Seeking farmed (sustainable) conch in the Keys
I'm heading down to the Keys this weekend on a regional-food excursion for a website I'm creating, and I'm struggling with conch, because every single ocean-friendly seafood guide (like that from Monterey Bay Aquarium) puts it on the "avoid" list for being overfished/vulnerable. It's such a regionally popular ingredient that I'm inclined to feature it on the website, but by doing that, I'm recommending that others eat it--thus my moral conundrum.
The perfect solution would be to find restaurants that source from sustainable conch farms like that on Turks & Caicos, but the trouble is, most of the restaurants I'm calling aren't really sure where their conch comes from, or they just tell me, "The Caribbean." (One response: "A farm? Oh, no, ours is from the ocean.")
My best lead so far is The Wharf Bar & Grill on Summerland Key, which uses farmed conch but only offers it on the menu in a chowder. I plan on asking around at each of the places I visit this weekend, and will report back, but I thought I'd poll the local experts in the meantime. Does anyone have any leads on where in the Keys I might find fritters or conch salad from sustainable/farmed conch?
Wharf Bar & Grill
25163 Overseas Hwy, Summerland Key, FL 33042
I used to buy conch from the T&C farm at Publix in Florida...so I *know* it's widely available.
Conch harvesting is absolutely illegal in Florida waters, so chances are you won't be getting anything local.
Just keep asking and asking...it's the only way to find out if it's farmed. (sometimes places will put it on the menu, but that's hit or miss)