Lake Superior's lake herring, also known as cisco or inland tullibee, are an environmental success story. Once supplying up to 19 million pounds of commercial catch per year, lake herring populations plummeted in the 1960s and '70s due to overfishing, habitat loss and the introduction of rainbow smelt.
Steve Bardolph, an assistant professor in the School of Fine Arts at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, applied for and received a Mini Grant last spring to help promote this underappreciated fish as a sustainable local food source, part of a larger initiative known as "Design for Good" that provides students an opportunity to apply design to creating social change. With the help of the grant, Bardolph and a team of graduate students, educators and media experts produced a video providing background on lake herring and the Lake Superior commercial fishery, and another one featuring Sara's Table Chester Creek Cafe chef Avery Cassar preparing Dijon- and rye-encrusted herring with warm German potato salad.
Enjoy the backgrounder above. Next week: The recipe!