A new Consumer Reports investigation of pork found that a whopping 69% of tested meat contained one or more potentially harmful bacteria, some of which showed signs of antibiotic resistance. The overwhelming majority of the bacteria found in the samples was resistant to at least one form of antibiotic - ranging from 63% of the Enterococcus to 93% of the Staphylococcus aureus. The same frightening issues that plague industrial meat production also plague aquaculture.
90% of all shrimp consumed in the US comes from outside the US, and most imported shrimp is grown in filth ponds flooded with antibiotics. Unless you are extremely vigilant, the shrimp your guests ingest is likely to be antibiotic-infused. Your guests deserve better.
Whether talking about pastured pork, heirloom squash, or farmstead cheese, good chefs make good product sing. Wild Florida White Shrimp are animals with amazing flavor and meaty texture that only comes from shrimp being allowed to live like shrimp: wild and free. You can't farm that.
Our partners, the Wood family, have been in the shrimping business since 1860 and are the second largest employer in Port St. Joe, FL after the school district. On our last visit to Wood's Fisheries, Ed Wood spoke about the difference between farmed and wild shrimp. "If I'm going to bring shrimp home with me for dinner, I always pick the bag of wild shrimp. There's just no comparing the taste between farmed and wild shrimp -- and I even own a shrimp farm." Wild shrimp get their flavor from what they eat, and the unique ecosystem of a wild shrimp's habitat influences its flavor. Wood’s Reese Antley even claims that he can taste a difference in the flavor of a shrimp depending on the depth of ocean it lived in- the deeper the water, the sweeter the shrimp. Like wine, oysters, or cheese, wild shrimp have terroir, and just as you wouldn't assume a bottle of Two Buck Chuck to have the flavor profile of an aged Burgundy, you can't assume farmed shrimp to match the flavor of wild. Wild shrimp just tastes better.
Mainers really love lobstah and so do we. This year, we partnered with Portland Captain Curt Brown of the F/V Lil More Tail to put up a limited lobster program of beautiful 6-8oz tails and picked knuckle and claw meat. Brown, who has been fishing commercially since he was 15, harvests these hard shells from rocky bottoms in frigid waters off the coast of Maine. The cold water and rough terrain come together to produce strong lobsters that are full of sweet succulent meat. Roast them, grill them, poach them, throw them in the oven covered in ritz crackers and butter and eat them in the privacy of your living room. We won't judge; just don't miss them.
As our worlds get smaller the impact that we have on one another grows. Chefs have the power to support independent producers, preserve traditional communities and protect amazing product. Choices made by a chef in Minneapolis, Dallas or DC has a direct effect on a fisherman in Portland, Port St. Joe or Sitka. Let's keep our fishermen out on the water for you.