Thursday, September 29, 2016

Jumbo shrimp is not an oxymoron?

"I am on a sea food diet" offers a wonderful pun on sea and see.  It was funny the first time I heard it years ago, and I still find it funny.

For billions of people, other than a few like Ramesh and me, sea food is not any punch line at all; they love sea food.  The only thing that usually keeps them away from the sea food?  The cost of it.

But, as people get more affluent, they then begin to consume more sea food. Where will all those marine critters come from?

Before you think about that, consider chicken or beef.  Wasn't it the same story?  As people got richer, they started eating more beef and chicken.  Or pigs and mutton.  Whatever. The point is that the demand for animal protein picks up with affluence, right?

How did we manage to meet the demand for chicken? Big time factory production and processing, yes?  Similarly, large pig farms.  So, what is good for the chicken and the pigs is good for lobsters and shrimp?

It looks like that is already underway, "to build the largest shrimp farm in the developed world" but with an interesting twist:
Project Sea Dragon’s viability rests on creating in a laboratory in a few years what centuries of natural evolution hasn’t achieved. Scientists are attempting to unlock the genome of the Black Tiger prawn to make a super invertebrate that will grow faster, fight disease more effectively and taste better than its free-roaming brethren.
“It’s super-charging natural selection,” said Dean Jerry, the professor at James Cook University in Townsville, north Queensland, who leads a team working on the project with funds from Seafarms and the Australian government. “What we’re really trying to breed for ultimately is a prawn which grows as fast as it can.”
Evolution on steroids?
A female Black Tiger prawn produces as many as 400,000 offspring in a single spawn, giving picky scientists a wide range of candidates to advance to the next generation. ... [Seafarms director Chris] Mitchell's goal is to breed such hardy and tasty prawns that the project will never have to catch wild ones again.
Frankly, eating cockroaches of the sea creeps me out.  I find it funny that most of the same people who love to eat bugs from the salty waters are aghast at the idea of eating bugs from land!  Oh well, humans don't always have to be rational, eh!
The first offspring from the project could be ready for sale at the end of 2018, and the site is targeting full output of 162,000 tons of prawns a year. That’s more than four times Australia’s current annual prawn consumption.
The prawns will grow on a 10,000 hectare (25,000 acre) slice of the Legune cattle ranch, near the border of the Northern Territory and Western Australia. There’s also a hatchery near Darwin, and more than 2,000 kilometers to the west, a quarantine station for the founding families.
Now, before you go ballistic and start criticizing such industrial, factory, production of food, ahem, you may want to check with this op-ed on "Why Industrial Farms Are Good for the Environment."  Blame it all on our affluence, if you prefer--because, the richer we are, we apparently demand more and better food.

As the author notes:
There are no easy answers, but innovation, entrepreneurship and technology have important roles to play.
 There is another option: Eat like how people ate 200 hundred years ago! ;)

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