Free the shrimps

A steamed tail-on shrimp.
A steamed tail-on shrimp. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is a well-known fact that shrimp is America’s favorite seafood. I do enjoy it as well, but lately it has been hard to find ‘good’ shrimps. When you buy them at the store, you can look for the country of origin, but I noticed that it is generally not mentioned on the packaging of cooked shrimps . When eating out, I used to ask where the shrimps were  from and it usually triggered some action: other patrons would stare at me and the poor waiter would run around to get an answer from the chef for a ‘difficult’ customer. I don’t ask anymore because it is never the answer I am hoping to hear: ”well, those shrimps are from Monterey of course’’, even in Northern California, by the ocean! I just skip the shrimps unless the menu says they are local. The reality is that most of the shrimp we eat in the United States is imported and most of the time they are farm raised in Thailand, China, Vietnam, Ecuador and so forth. That is because the Americans cannot keep up with the low prices of foreign competition.  I remember when shrimps were an expensive dish for a special occasion (my favorite was shrimps in an avocado cut in half). Now you can get them everywhere all the time. Unfortunately, the rule is you get what you pay for.

I just read an article The 9 nastiest things in your supermarket that is brief and to the point. Number four is about shrimps and says it all. I would not recommend to read this before dinner though, unless you are on a weight loss program.

Just to elaborate a little bit, I would add that shrimp farms would not necessarily be a bad idea if crops were maintained small, the way they used to be. But since the booming of the shrimp business, farming became intensive and ponds overpopulated. When shrimps don’t have enough space and have to survive in an unsanitary environment, they become ill (just like us!) and even more so in warm climates. That is why those shrimp farmers dump huge amounts of antibiotics and pesticides in the ponds. It maintains the shrimps alive but it does not clean the pond: the shrimps still ‘’swim’’ in a sewer, but it is a Rx one!

Although they are forbidden in US farms, we are not protected against foreign use of those chemicals. I will not go into details here, but you are probably starting to see all the health consequences of eating such contaminated food. For example, you can get food poisoning when you eat dirty shrimps, especially when they are undercooked. In addition to this, by using antibiotics the wrong way, many bacteria are killed but the strongest ones are selected. When you ingest those ‘superbugs’ with the shrimps, they can now infect you with a disease that is much more potent and difficult to treat. There is also the issue of ingesting the chemicals themselves that can be carcinogenic or cause other diseases. To be fair, this happens with many other foods, unfortunately.

This is a shame, isn’t it?

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