May 14, 2010
Live fish catch attention, customers at farmers market

Fish doesn't get much fresher than this.

Shoppers at the Sacramento farmers market can now purchase live fish at the Sunday food haven under the freeway.

Michael Passmore, owner of Passmore Ranch - a sustainable aquaculture facility in Sloughhouse that's been raising and producing fresh water fish since 2005 - began selling live black bass, silver carp, catfish and sturgeon at the market about three weeks ago.

The booth's a hit. Passmore's fish sales have doubled since he started selling fish at farmers markets. He also sets up shop at the Florin Road farmers market on Thursdays and in Stockton on Saturdays.

"It's been fantastic," he said.

And yes, Passmore is well within the law in terms of having a booth of live fish at the farmers market (he should know - the Marine-turned-entrepreneur is currently in law school). He has cleared his booth with Sacramento County and operates at the market under its health permit.

Here's the catch: Passmore or his staff can't hand a live fish to a customer, a requirement attached to his registration with the state Department of Fish and Game.

"We give it a tap on the head, which stuns and/or kills it," he said, adding that the method is among the more humane ways to kill a fish.

Prices range from about $4.25 for catfish and carp to $7.25 for black bass.

Need an idea for a delicious fish dinner? Check out Epicurious' recipe for black bass with ginger and scallions.

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