Why wouldn’t that shrimp on the menu or at the grocery store be safe to eat? Do you really want to know?
Unless specifically labeled, “wild-caught”, most shrimp we see on menus in America are farm-raised and imported from Southeast Asia. “Domestic” shrimp are often farm-raised on the Gulf Coast, but only account for a small portion of the shrimp we eat in America. The federal authorities inspect less than 2% of the shrimp on the market and deem all shrimp “safe”. When other agencies inspect the shrimp available in grocery stores in the U.S., here is what they find:
1. Toxins. Chemicals, antibiotics, and carcinogenics at levels 25-150 times levels set by the FDA.
2. Filth. Literal filth. Rodent hair, insects, salmonella, and e. coli. Eeeewwwww.
3. Oil. In domestic shrimp, tests find oil residue along with residue from the chemicals they used to clean the oil out of the Gulf after the 2010 BP spill.
Beyond the immediate health risks of eating these toxic, tainted, farm-raised shrimp, the practice of farming shrimp is having global effects.
Climate change. Shrimp farmers eradicate native mangrove forests along coastlines, destroying ecosystems dependent on their absorption of carbon dioxide. The mangrove forests also act as weather buffers and habitat for fish such as snapper, wild tilapia, and sea bass, and commercial seafood like oysters and crabs.
So what’s the safest, most ecological shrimp to eat? Wild caught shrimp from the Pacific Northwest.
Oh, wait. That’s where the radioactive debris from the 2011 Japanese Tsunami and subsequent reactor meltdown is showing up. Are the wild shrimp in that area eating radioactive algea that has drifted across from Japan’s radioactive seas? It’s a risk.
Sigh. It’s hard to know what is safe anymore in this modern world. At the very least, we should be aware.