Nick Mendoza grew up in Southern California, but his roots run deep in New Mexico.
His grandparents are cattle ranchers in the Gila Wilderness of southwestern New Mexico, where he worked summers as a kid. And a few years ago, when he left behind his career as a marine scientist, Mendoza returned to the family ranch.
The 29-year-old, who now lives in Santa Fe, specialized in research for reducing waste in aquaculture, the practice of farming seafood. He worked on projects intended to improve sustainability in an industry where millions of pounds of edible food is wasted annually. But he became discouraged when the practices he helped develop weren’t being moved forward by industry leaders.
he types of wild-harvested fish that can go to waste include catches that aren’t the right size or shape to produce filets that sell, or species that don’t have name recognition of popular varieties, like salmon or bass.
Now, an idea to start a beef jerky business for his grandparents’ ranch has transformed into something that connected him back with his original passions – fish jerky, a product that can reduce the waste of lesser known fish varieties.
His startup company, OneForNeptune, is taking off with the goal of creating a market for “underloved, undervalued” fish through a snack format already familiar to its audience.
“We’re working to put fish to its highest purpose in the market and offer this really healthy, high-protein option in a really convenient way,” said Mendoza.
Though Santa Fe is his home base, his product is produced and packaged in Washington state.
The company, which went live in late November, currently sells its Pacific rockfish jerky online and at expos across the country. It is also preparing to sell its first retail packages in a few Bay Area stores in coming weeks
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