What Are We Supposed to Think About Shrimp?
Americans eat more shrimp than ever before. But a cloud hangs over much of the global industry that produces it, with questions about labor practices and sustainability.
Very messy, very spicy peel-and-eat shrimp get dunked in melted lemon butter and chile-seasoned shrimp broth.
We Americans may enjoy our tuna and savor our salmon, but nothing makes us weak in the knees like an overloaded buffet of all-you-can-eat shrimp.
Whether it’s battered and fried, steamed and cocktail-sauced, or boiled until tender in spicy brine, shrimp is a national obsession. Our consumption has been escalating, up to about 4.4 pounds per person per year, a marked increase from 4 pounds per person just five years ago. It seems we will eat as much shrimp as we can get our hands on — over 1.5 billion pounds per year.
Lower prices and increased supply have whetted our appetites. According to John Sackton, the founder of the online industry publication Seafood News, 49 percent of American families put shrimp in their shopping carts in 2018, a record high.
“Because shrimp prices have been consistently low and stable,” Mr. Sackton said, “it’s allowed supermarkets and restaurants to do promotions, which spurs consumption even higher.”