Editor’s Note: Sadly my friend Jim passed away a month after this posting. This survivor of the Murmansk Run, investment banker, and 3rd Order Franciscan, taught me so much more than just farmed Asian shrimp. Fair winds my friend…my hero.
My good friend, a 93-year-old war hero has not eaten a shrimp since the 1940’s. He tells me tales of his days as an officer in the Merchant Marines during and after World War II. Jim remembers the shrimp farms of the Ganges delta and in Southeast Asia, literally swimming (and thriving) in raw sewage. He is so averse to shrimp that I don’t think he would even eat our local shrimp…if we were still allowed to catch them.
Now, I’m not in the habit of questioning a guy who was literally blown up on two occasions during the War. The thought of imported farmed shrimp does gross me out a bit, but that has never really stopped me from eating imported or farmed shrimp. I’ll gladly eat anything someone prepares with imported shrimp, but I rarely order a shrimp dish in a restaurant.
As much as I like wild shrimp, I don’t buy it all that much at the fish market either. But shrimp is crazy popular in the US and worldwide, and to meet that demand, 90% of shrimp consumed in the US is imported.
Take a Look at this Report by Al-Jazeera on Shrimp Farming
So what could you be eating? Hard to say since most of this supply does not get inspected. But what is found during inspection is scary. This investigation by Al-Jazeera English sheds some light on imported shrimp, and also shows one domestic solution to the problem.
Among fishermen and fishing families, aquaculture can sometimes be seen as a threat, both economically and ecologically. But aquaculture does not have to be done with heavy antibiotics and lots of wastewater. If we support (with our wallets) both domestic wild caught shrimp and modern domestic shrimp farms, combined with protection efforts to preserve shrimping communities, we can take a huge dent out of that 90% of imports. The shrimpers and farmers thrive and we all benefit with tastier and safer shrimp.