Locally grown food is normally a more environmentally friendly choice, and in the summer months it is easier to find fresh local produce. Just because your menu boasts local foods doesn't mean it's green.
The shrimping industry has always been a part of coastal life for many folks in Georgia. Business hasn't been booming lately, though, because of high fuel costs and cheaper imported shrimp on the market. Farm raising shrimp in tropical climates is fairly inexpensive, but if it's not done correctly, it damages the surrounding environment.
So, we should buy locally caught shrimp and boost the coastal economy, right?
Shrimp trawling nets are a danger to sea life. The shrimpers drag their nets along the ocean floor sometimes less than a mile offshore. They catch a variety of critters besides shrimp. There is an average of 2.7 pounds of by-catch for every pound of shrimp that is harvested.
Adult and juvenile sea turtles often get caught in these nets and drown. Shrimping season opens in the midst of sea turtle nesting season on Georgia's coast, so the turtles and the nets occupy the same waters for the summer.
Shrimpers are required by law to have Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs)
in their nets, but they have only reduced by-catch by 23 percent. Georgia DNR officials boarded several boats at the opening of the season and found that although shrimpers had the devices installed, they weren't necessarily the right dimensions to safely exclude the larger marine life. Most shrimpers believe that the devices reduce their shrimp catch as well.
Another thing to think about: a shrimp trawler can use 200 gallons of fuel in one day. That is quite a bit of CO2 emissions.
That Georgia-caught shrimp is delicious, but maybe we should reconsider that big shrimp boil this 4th of July in the name of a healthier ocean.
Check out the recipes
MNN has offered for local crops instead.
Photo Credits: savbill/Flickr, chapmanrealty/Flickr