Arizona shrimp farms and other scary things
Owl Meat has brought us some excellent farm-raised food for thought in today's Funtastic Thursday guest post. In fact, even his throw-away line would be worth a separate post: "Has tilapia become the merlot of the fish world?"
Here's the Owl man. EL
Arizona Shrimp Farms
Let this settle into your skull bucket for a moment ... Arizona shrimp farms. Now sit back and relish the rare triple oxymoron. Can I think of others? Just Holy Roman Empire. Maybe that example isn't analogous since shrimp farms do exist in Arizona, whereas the other existed but was neither holy, Roman, nor an empire. I used to live in southern Arizona, where these unholy sites exist, but I don't remember any shrimp on the beaches there. ...
From the University of Arizona site: "There are currently four inland shrimp farms operating in Arizona. Each of these farms is growing the Mexican white shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei in brackish groundwater. The farms are also incorporating various levels of water reuse, growing additional crops of tilapia, date palms, olive trees or field crops."
Back it up, Jebediah. Tilapia? As I'm struggling to wrap my brain around the idea that I might be unknowingly eating Arizona shrimp, I am gut-punched with the notion of Yuma tilapia. Are we in the Matrix?
Here is a link to the USDA's USMSFP (U.S. Marine Shrimp Farming Program). Is there a non-marine shrimp program? Can the word "marine" be used to describe man-made shrimp farms in the desert?
I had no idea that shrimp could be farm-raised. In 2006 the United States produced 4,000 tons of farm-raised shrimp. In recent years China has zoomed to the top to be the world's largest producer with 1.2 million tons in 2006. That's enough shrimp for about 77 trillion spring rolls.
The Shrimp-Olive Program sounds like a delicious evening of antipasto-inspired music. In fact it is a program for "using plants as a filtration system for aquaculture effluents." Weird? Interesting? Disgusting? Clever?
There are shrimp farms in other states including landlocked Arkansas. Brave New Shrimp™ produces "A gourmet product grown utilizing the best, most leading edge, 'natural' production practices."
Note to Mr. Brave: Don't put "natural" in quotes. I'm no marketing genius, but do you really want to taunt your market with an already slightly scary product? Never heard of Arkansas farm-raised shrimp? I dare you to eat some. Are you brave enough? Not to mention the clear reference to Aldous Huxley's dystopian novel Brave New World, which takes place in a future where human beings are mass-produced like, uh, farm-raised shrimp.
A key part of their marketing plan is "the natural-food angle." A spokesman said, "We are not using any growth hormones, any antibiotics or any preservatives on our shrimp, and we are trying to grow something that’s a very healthy product." It never occurred to me that any of those things would ever be in seafood. China + chemicals + shrimp? That's easy math. Now I'm terrified.
Brave New Restaurant in Little Rock is run by partner Peter Brave and supposedly features Brave New Shrimp and possibly braver new customers. Conspicuously absent from the menu? Brave New Shrimp. Not so brave after all, Bubba? They do offer tilapia of unknown origin. Psst ...has tilapia become the merlot of the fish world?
I stopped eating shrimp a number of years ago for no particular reason. I just stopped loving them. Now I have a 1.2 million tons of reasons. Brave new world? Not for me. For the rest of you – enjoy your shrimpy future ... if you dare.