Bad news for scampi lovers: meeting the world’s demand for shrimp is doing some serious damage to the ocean (and our health). Here are five little-known reasons to take shrimp recipes out of the dinner rotation.
In his new book, “The Perfect Protein”, Andy Sharpless makes some very compelling arguments for why we should all rethink our favorite shrimp recipes. Sharpless is CEO of Oceana, the world’s largest ocean conservation group, so he knows a thing or two about what our insatiable appetite for seafood is doing to the planet.
Americans eat more shrimp than any other type of seafood by weight. According to Sharpless, being very careful about how we source shrimp can go a long way toward protecting the oceans. The sad reality is neither fishing nor farming is a truly sustainable way to produce shrimp. Read on for some more compelling reasons to wean yourself off shrimp.
5 Reasons To Kick Your Shrimp Recipes To The Curb
1. Most shrimp consumed in the United States comes from farms in Vietnam, Bangladesh, and Thailand. These operations grow shrimp in shallow pools that form the perfect haven for bacteria and viruses. Even scarier? Only two percent of all imported seafood is tested by the Food and Drug Administration.
2. To combat the pathogens that see shrimp pools as breeding grounds, shrimp farmers often dump high levels of antibiotics and pesticides into the water–some of which are banned for use in the U.S. and other countries. You demand organic produce, but how often do you search for organic seafood? Kind of defeats the purpose, right?
3. In order to make room for shrimp operations, farmers often rip out mangrove forests, which is terrible for the environment. “Scientists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture have found that mangrove forests absorb and trap more climate-changing carbon dioxide than any other ecosystem on the planet, including rainforests. Mangroves also serve as nursery areas for other ocean creatures, and they help keep coasts secure by reducing flooding during storms,” reports Prevention.com.
4. Tearing up precious mangrove forests is bad enough, but that’s not the worst part: When shrimp farming pools become too old or contaminated for use, farmers just move on to a new area and repeat the process. The former mangrove forest is now a polluted wasteland, leaching dangerous chemicals into the water supply.
5. I know what you’re thinking. “I only every buy wild-caught seafood, so my shrimp recipes are safe.” Think again. Wild shrimp are caught with fine-meshed trawl nets pulled through the water behind a boat. The only problem is that they nets catch a lot of other stuff besides shrimp. “Most fish are damaged from being in the net, and many are discarded—dead or dying—overboard,” Sharpless points out. “Nets routinely pull up 9,000 endangered or threatened sea turtles annually, in addition to sharks, red snappers, and other animals.”
Eco-Friendly Alternatives To Shrimp
Giving up shrimp won’t be easy, but there are some more responsible seafood choices that can help. According to Sharpless, sardines and anchovies, mussels, Alaskan salmon, domestic clams, and farmed oysters are more sustainable selections that are also safer for your health.
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