Review: Big Shrimpin’

This is a show I have been eager to see.  Partly because it is filmed in a town just a few miles away, Bayou La Batre (aka the Bayou), AL.  Mostly though I am hoping that the show addresses the crisis our domestic shrimpers face because of corruption in Washington DC, massively overzealous environmental laws and of course BP.

big shrimpin history channelThe series follows three shrimping boats out of the same company on “the Bayou” as they voyage to participate at the Texas Open.  Texas is the only state on the Gulf Coast tat closes waters to shrimping a few months out of the year to allow the shrimp to grow larger.  When they first reopen the waters there’s a race to get those big shrimp (oxymoron anyone?).

From the get go the crews face obstacles like a shrimper with a serious injury, a torn net (they cost $2800 each) and an inspection by federal agents that results in $15,000 in fines.    Along the way viewers are introduced a whole gaggle of characters and I guarantee you that these are not fabricated personalities.

I’ve grown up around shrimpers from “the Bayou” and they are a very, very tough group of people.  They do more actual work in a day than most Americans do in a month.  Of course it isn’t uncharacteristic for their workdays to run 36 or even 48 hours.  See what I mean?  The whiny brats occupying Wall Street are crying about having to work 36 hours a week and these folks do that in one shift.

big shrimpIt’s been one episode and I am enjoying the show.  It’s important for America to know what it takes to bring the world’s greatest shrimp to their table.  My lone disappointment is that they have not addressed the political corruption that has lead to our markets being flooded by inferior and down right dangerous foreign shrimp.

Asian farm-raised shrimp are cheaper than wild caught US shrimp because they do not have to withstand the scrutiny ours does. In Asia, the shrimp are raised in farms where the populations are thousands of times more dense than in the wild which creates a breeding ground for disease and parasitic microbes. To control this they use antibiotics and pesticides that have been proven dangerous to humans.

These chemicals are banned for use in food animals in the United States and Europe because nitrofurans are carcinogenic, and chloramphenicol causes aplastic anemia. Technically no imported seafood can contain them and still be sold. While domestic seafood is inspected like crazy (Gulf seafood is actually inspected twice since the oil spill) only 1% of imported seafood is ever inspected and then not by the FDA or USDA (agencies trained for such tasks) but by the Dept. of Commerce.

Tonight they did mention that 90% of all shrimp sold in the US is imported from farms in Asia.  These shrimp are untested for harmful chemicals though they most likely contain them. It has created a trade imbalance that has all but killed the US shrimping industry while fueling China’s economic growth. The inequality of the issue harms us both as individuals (medically) and as a community (economically). But since the companies that manufacture those chemicals are in the US it is more profitable for politicians to ignore the issue.

Hopefully they will address this later on in the series.  I implore you, please watch this show.  You may learn somethings about the world you didn’t know.  Big Shrimpin’ airs Thursdays at 10/9 central on the History Channel.

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up


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