Shrimp: a Little Creature’s Big Impact by Matt Rhoney

shrimp a little creatures big impactShrimp has had a wide-ranging set of influences on the United States. This buggy little sea-creature has brought cash flow into our economy, nutrients into our bodies, and life into our culture. No matter where you live, you’ve definitely felt their impact. The next time you think of shrimp, remember the outsized impact of these pint-sized crustaceans.


For huge populations of people, particularly those living in maritime climates, shrimp are more than cute critters; they’re a main source of livelihood. In Louisiana, fishermen landed around 96 million pounds of shrimp in 2011 alone. The state exports its catches around the nation; 10 percent of shrimp consumed in the United States was caught in Louisiana, according to the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership. And shrimpers take big risks to bring us this bounty, according to Louisiana Offshore Lawyer Bart Bernard; boat-workers brave rough waters and bad weather, all for the shrimps’ sake.


Shrimp festivals are a Louisiana staple, too, bringing in visitors and money from all around the country. Multiple cities and counties host events to spread the good word about what shrimp can bring to people’s lives. Festival goers can pick from tons of shrimp dishes, listen to some great music, and generally celebrate southern life.

Nutrition and Cooking

Nutritionally, shrimp has a lot in common with other seafood: no carbs, plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, and a good amount of protein. And good news for all you seafood fans who worry about pollutants: according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), shrimp are one of the top five seafoods that are both commonly eaten AND low in mercury.


More importantly, they are delicious, and can be served in a large variety of ways. Grill them, fry them, barbeque them, etc. Shrimp is an incredibly versatile ingredient, appropriate for almost anyone’s kitchen. Just get ‘em cooked and spiced and paired, and you’re looking at a tasty meal. Unless you’re allergic, there’s a shrimp recipe out there just for you. Bold, spicy etouffees;  hearty, crunchy deep-fries; and rich gumbos are crucial Louisiana experiences. Eat up!


Speaking of food and festivals, shrimp play a large cultural role in Louisiana. Louisiana has a strong, unique cultural history which sets it apart from its neighbours in the south. Shrimp has brought together a diverse mix the world’s people; Creoles, Cajuns, east Europeans, and south Asians (among others) all bring something interesting to this rich cultural stew. On the water and in the kitchen, people come together. People don’t get all riled up about differences in appearance, language, or customs. Catching crustaceans and cooking ‘em up with style is the important thing.

Seaports have always been cultural hotbeds, and Louisiana’s ports are no exceptions. The influx of travellers from around the world constantly brings in new ideas, music, and culinary influences. All of the wild street festival traditions of New Orleans–the street bands, the Mardi Gras festivities, the food, all of the mythology–can be traced in some way to the fact that lots of different peoples came to this great state to catch some good shrimp.