Not to Be a Debbie Downer But… A Bit about Shrimp

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If you enjoy feasting on shrimp, you’re not alone. Americans eat, on average, 4.1 pounds of shrimp per year. That’s per person per year. With figures like these, it’s no wonder shrimp is the most popular seafood in the United States. Now for the Debbie Downer part…

Shrimp is either farmed or caught in the wild. Unfortunately, neither method is good for the environment. In fact, both options wreak havoc on the environment.

Stephen Messenger, freelance writer for numerous online and print publications including The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo!, Huffington Post, and TreeHugger, explains the harmful effects of shrimp farming in plain terms: “It takes five square miles of cleared mangrove forest to produce just over two pounds of shrimp—and that land is typically left depleted within 10 years and rendered unusable for another 40. By comparison, the devastation left behind from cattle-ranch deforestation seems, well, quite rosy.”

Jill Richardson, author of Recipe for America and founder of the sustainable food and agriculture blog La Vida Locavore , explains that catching wild shrimp isn’t a better option because “it usually involves the use of deep-sea trawlers, which kills 5 to 20 pounds of bycatch (unwanted species of fish accidentally scooped up by the trawler’s net) for every pound of shrimp.” The bycatch is tossed over the side of the trawler without a second thought.

As for health risks, according to Richardson, most shrimp is not FDA approved. When tested, researchers found that imported ready-to-eat shrimp were contaminated with 162 separate varieties of bacteria that were resistant to 10 antibiotics. Yuck!

I don’t know about you, but I think I am going to lay off the shrimp until standards of production increase dramatically. For my own health. And for the health of our planet as a whole.

For more information on this topic, please visit TreeHugger.

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(Photo by 51ststate)

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