Lots of people, in an effort to curb their consumption of red meat, watch calories, and generally protect their health, have added more seafood to their diets. With fish, of course, logically, comes shrimp–but maybe not for long. Like most of you, we’ve seen the price of shrimp rising, but last week, while shopping at a local grocery store chain, we were suddenly struck by the cost of one of our favorite sea creatures.
As many of you already know, most of the shrimp sold in the US are raised on shrimp farms in Southeast Asia and imported to the US. These shrimp come with a variety of contaminants, from antibiotics to pesticides to banned chemicals to bacteria, and even insects and rodent hair. Ugh. The farms where the shrimp are raised are pretty filthy, as are the plants in which the shrimp are processed and packed. It’s so dirty, in fact, that shrimp account for 26 to 35% of all imported seafood that gets rejected, according to Food and Water Watch. Double ugh. You may be thinking that you’re not so sure you want to eat domestic, wild-caught shrimp either since the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. Valid point; tests are still being conducted to test levels of oil and other chemicals in seafood from that area, but you have other domestic choices, say, shrimp from the Pacific Northwest, for example–and this brings us to our original point.
We were shrimp shopping and found a bag of EZ-Peel, wild-caught, domestic shrimp, and we thought–SCORE! But in reaching for it, we glanced down to see the price–$34.99 for a pound of shrimp–and we froze. After more investigation, we saw that even shrimp from Southeast Asia were pretty pricey, and so we consulted everyone’s favorite oracle, Google. Did you know that there’s a worldwide shrimp shortage? Prices for shrimp have jumped to a 14-year high, and prices in March of this year were 61% more than the year before, due to a bacterial disease called “early mortality syndrome.” This disease kills 90% of the shrimp it infects by destroying the digestive systems of young shrimp. It started in Southeast Asia and devastated shrimp populations there, and cases have now been reported in Mexico.
As if that weren’t disheartening enough, meat-eaters of the world be warned–meat prices are on the rise, as well. There’s a disease affecting pork that has spread to 30 states and killed 7+ million pigs so far. The price of bacon is already up 13.1% from last year, and by the end of 2014, Americans may be spending as much as 20% more for pork. Because of the drought in the Western portion of the country, beef herds are at their lowest numbers since 1951, and the price of ground chuck is up 5.9%. If this mega-drought continues, expect beef prices to continue to rise–a lot. Even chicken is up 12.4% over the past year!
So, what do you do? Now may be a better time than any to cut your meat consumption. Do you take part in Meatless Monday? Maybe you should. Maybe you should create your own Meatless Tuesday, too. There’s no doubt that as food prices increase, especially in meat, dietary changes will have to be made. What do you make of it? Do you take a “glass half-empty approach” and worry about pending social unrest, or a “glass half-full” approach that includes a hope for healthier eating habits across the nation? Let us know on our Facebook or Twitter pages! Whatever your thoughts, we all hope this drought defies predictions and ends soon. There’s more than your favorite filet mignon to be lost if it persists.