Shrimp Getting So Wasted

I defrosted some shrimp for a project but got distracted and three days later it was time to send the expired food to an appreciative audience of seagulls and crows.

Feeding most wild animals is a bad idea but many birds count scavenged proteins as an important part of their diet, and that includes dead crustaceans.

Today some relatively lucky birds got offered two varieties of processed shrimp. Not as good as the real thing - a live animal. Still probably tasty.

Trader Joe’s “medium, peeled, deveined, tail off” cooked shrimp is a “farm raised product of Indonesia.” Ingredients: shrimp, salt. These were purchased by accident and are not something I would ever use.

First Street “shell and tail on extra large raw shrimp (31-40 per pound)” is also a farm raised product of Indonesia. Ingredients: shrimp, sodium tripolyphosphate (“In large quantities, STPP is a suspected neurotoxin, as well as a registered pesticide and known air contaminant in the state of California” ), salt.

These are fairly tasteless as are all farmed shrimp. And farming these critters is a problematic situation.

Deforestation. Degradation of fresh water. Slavery. And those workers lucky enough to not be shrimp slaves might be getting paid the Indonesian minimum wage of $192 per month - $1.20 per hour for a 40 hour work week.

Aquaculture goes back thousands of years but it was a local small scale non-corporate concept until recently.

Wild shrimp are problematic too. The bycatch associated with their harvest wipes out all sorts of sea creatures. One thing wild shrimp have going for them is flavor - it seems the freedom to roam freely and eat a variety of food that is not pellets made of (sadly) bycatch makes for a tastier animal. And a happier animal. Ask any creature: do you want to be imprisoned in a murky bog or do you want to roam free?

Nirvana Wok is mindful of the risk of food-borne illness which would be yet another reason we don’t give out old shrimp (to people), although there are many restaurants that would consider our seagull and crow chum to be a “use this first before dipping into the new stuff” priority.

Cook anything to 170 degrees and you’ll be killing the bad beasties. That doesn’t mean the results will taste good.

Consumer Reports: Tests Find 60 Percent of Frozen Shrimp Contaminated With Bacteria

So back to our story of a food donation to opportunistic birds. The crows got the lion’s share of the shrimp through a strategic, communal effort. The seagulls were happy but were either unable or unwilling to catch airborne shrimp and waited for them to hit the water before pouncing. These are the same birds that will take french fries right out of your hand at Ivar’s in downtown Seattle.

Ducks were eating the shrimp, too. Ducks are omnivores who will devour crayfish and other animals sometimes, so good for them. Canadian Geese came to investigate but were not interested.

–Alex