Do I Dare to Eat a Shrimp?

We had a bloggers night out on Friday during the Interior Design Show, with Harry Wakefield of Mocoloco, Robert Oullette and Sarah of ReadingToronto , my spouse Kelly of Up with the Lark at Toronto's Izakaya Restaurant. (A new record: Five conflicts of interest in one post!) A problem of writing for TreeHugger too much is that one becomes a bit of a pompous know-it-all, so when Harry ordered shrimp shao mai I had to point out the issues with it. This month's Gourmet Magazine,not the greenest of publications, calls farmed shrimp "one of the most destructive means by which humans produce food. Shrimp farmers clear cut vast coastal fringes of mangroves,-crucial breeding grounds for fish- to create ponds....As rotting shrimp and food pollute the water they move on and hack down more trees and make more ponds" They also pump them full of antibiotics.

Gourmet suggests that American wild shrimp are fine, but the problem is the by-catch- it used to be up to ten pounds of unwanted sharks, sea turtles, flounder and other fish for every pound of shrimp were caught. However the diversity and density of the fish stocks have deteriorated so much that good fishermen have reduced the bycatch to about two pounds, mostly jellyfish.
Another surprising source of information is the political blog Daily Kos, where Mark H is much harsher about bycatch- "So, what happens to the bycatch? In general, after all the shrimp have been picked out of the giant pile of biomass on the deck and quickly frozen to preserve them, the crew shovels or hose-sprays the rest of the catch overboard. Pretty much nothing survives. Of course, because the bycatch is left dead and dying at the bottom of the sea these animals are basically out of sight, out of mind. Imagine the outrage if a hunter searching for a deer killed nearly every bird, mammal, reptile and insect in his path. And simply left them lying dead on the ground. You get the picture."

There are a few sustainable sources of shrimp- Gei Wai from Hong Kong, or Ocean Boy Farms in Florida, but they are not going to be found in your local restaurant or supermarket. So Harry, hands off the shrimp. ::Daily Kos

Tags: Toronto