Shrimp is America’s No. 1 choice for seafood - $5 billion a year's worth. But push aside the horseradish and cocktail sauce, and what you’ll uncover is a lot of controversy.
The Associated Press uncovered shrimp stories in past year about slave labor in Southeast Asia, and environmental degradation from destruction of mangroves. Lots of downside and concern.
NPR reports on a new kind of boutique shrimp operation in New York, called Eco Shrimp Garden. It's producing a variety known as whiteleg shrimp, or Pacific white shrimp, which is grown indoors in circulating tanks. Yes, it's farm-raised, but with a difference.
Jean Claude Frajmund, the owner of Eco Shrimp Garden, has created his own, indoor mini ocean of 84,000 gallons of water.
His shrimp, which he says are fed eight times a day (versus the typical one to two times a day), receive a diet of U.S.-sourced fish meal and bits of poultry protein. Harvest time is six months. Typically, farm-raised shrimp harvests, depending on the variety, from one to six months.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program gives this shrimp its "Best Choice" ranking.
All this does come at a cost, however: Jean Claude sells his shrimp at the Union Square Greenmarket, in Manhattan, for about $25 a pound.
Craig Browdy, of Zeigler Bros., told NPR that this is a growing national trend, Zeigler Bros. produces the feed for shrimp operations, including Eco Shrimp, and reports about 50 marine shrimp-farming operations in the United States, which is confirmed by statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Perhaps "Grown in the USA" will finally move the shrimp market out of commodity status.