By Lia Jonsson

Two items caught my attention recently – a whole feature full of delectable recipe ideas for shrimp in Coastal Living Magazine and a news story about a farmer in Wisconsin. There was really nothing terribly unusual about either – the magazine often has great recipes, particularly for seafood and fresh salads, and I try a lot of them. And, farmers in Wisconsin are nothing to raise your eyebrows about.

But this Farmer Raises Shrimp!

Can you imagine a local supply of shrimp? Good shrimp? Shrimp that haven’t been frozen? And, shrimp that don’t involve a large by-product catch and are not farmed in a foreign country? The next thoughts, of course, are when we will be able to harvest shrimp from the Aquaponics system. But, that’s another question . . .

If you’re concerned about the fish and seafood you eat, visit the NOAA Fishwatch site for all the latest information.

Today, of course, I’m thinking of new ways to prepare shrimp – or, old ways revived. I’m thinking of ceviche with lots of fresh tomatoes and onions; of bouillabaisse, with a whole host of other fish and seafood and a loaf of warm French bread, and of shrimp prepared with lots of butter and garlic and ladled over some perfectly cooked angel hair pasta. It all sounds good enough to eat, doesn’t it?

Reasons for Eating Shrimp

To my mind, shrimp is just about the perfect food – some of us would like them even if they weren’t so good for us; the health benefits are a bonus. Relatively low in calories, shrimp are packed disease-fighting minerals, loaded with beauty and health benefits, full of protein and totally lacking in carbohydrates, and may help regulate food cravings and keep skin supple and healthy. The latest studies also suggest that the antioxidants shrimp contain may offer even greater health benefits than previously thought.

One of the best reasons to love shrimp, though, is that they are so versatile: As a cold cocktail, with sauces, in salads, combined with unusual spices or in soups or stews, served with vegetables or on the same plate as a perfectly grilled steak, shrimp are perennially popular. They freeze well; they are widely available, and even though the price can vary by location and by size, shrimp are a “go to” treat for many of us.

Farming Shrimp – Yes!

So, what’s this about shrimp farming in Wisconsin? Is the dairy state about to become the newest coast? Well, not in the foreseeable future, perhaps, but the signs are there. A shrimp farmer in Iowa is having trouble meeting demand. Draw your own conclusions. It’s a developing market, but the demand is there for succulent, tasty salt-water shrimp. Forbes Adam, a former excavation contractor, believes shrimp farming is his future. His tanks are above ground, but indoors; the water is maintained at 93 degrees, and the shrimp are growing well.

He notes, however, that energy requirements are substantial, although he considers it a sustainable enterprise. Freshwater shrimp are currently being studied for growing in Aquaponic systems – when that becomes an option, you can bet we’ll have shrimp more often!

For now, however, I’ll be happy with Gulf Shrimp – and will continue to collect recipes to showcase them and bring out all their delicious flavor possibilities. Right now I’m considering a Shrimp, Watermelon and Feta Salad. Won’t you join me? If that’s not to your taste, there are at least a score of other options!

Shrimp Recipie

Photo by Flickr/Takashi Hososhima