Each year, Americans eat more than 100 billion pounds of shrimp. According to the International Trade Commission, more than 87 percent of all that shrimp comes from farms found outside the United States.
Most shrimp comes from Thailand, China and Ecuador, and according to the Mangrove Action Project, it comes with a high cost to ‘the planet’s coastal zones, local communities and biodiversity.’
“Foreign shrimp farms heavily pollute the land and waterways and are the top destroyer of mangrove forests, which act as nurseries for many fish and protect coastlines from erosion and storm damage" according to MAP’s executive director Alfredo Quarto. "Shrimp farms are also associated with child labor, human trafficking and other labor abuses, and the shrimp they produce may contain residues, pesticides, antibiotics, and other filth."
And while many might wonder whether the shrimp they just dunked in cocktail sauce was fresh or frozen, it’s fairly unlikely that they thought about where and how it was harvested.
To help raise awareness about the environmental, community and health problems associated with imported shrimp, 10 Seattle-area chefs and restaurateurs have signed a pledge vowing not to cook with foreign shrimp.
MAP and the Seattle Chapter of Chef’s Collaborative are sponsoring the pledge to draw attention to the unsustainable practices of overseas shrimp farming.
The pledge also helps to highlight local chefs making a commitment to using sustainable seafood in their kitchen. Seattle-area chefs include: Rose Anne Finkel of the Pike Brewery, Greg Atkinson of Northwest Essentials, Diane LaVonne of Diane's Market Kitchen, Peter Burke of Ray's Boathouse, Johnathan Sundstrom of Lark, Kevin Davis of Steelhead Diner, Adam Stevenson of Earth and Ocean, Dustin Ronspies of Art of the Table, Dave Storm of Portage Bay Cafe, and Pete Tobin of Spokane School of Culinary Arts.
Being informed about what you eat and where it comes from is a small step that can make a big difference in your own efforts to live a more sustainable life. But supporting chefs and restaurants taking actions such as this can also help build the demand for a more sustainable food supply and will hopefully raise awareness throughout the Seattle-area seafood loving community .
Photo credit: Flickr User NoShowerFamily, Creative Commons License