A biologist has calculated that the tiny little shrimp may be the most costly animal you can eat when measured in terms of its negative impact on the environment. According to a new paper from J. Boone Kaufman, of Oregon State University, one pound of frozen shrimp adds one ton of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere — more than 10 times that produced by the equivalent amount of beef raised on cleared rainforest land. It seems that most of the world's farmed shrimp is produced on coastal farms in Southeast Asia that were created by destroying mangrove forests. In addition to the loss of the trees — which are particularly great at eating carbon dioxide and protect the fragile coastlines — the farms are usually abandoned with 10 years, due to "disease, soil acidification and contamination" and leave the land unusable for another 40 years. So if you have a problem with factory farming of pigs and cows, they apparently have nothing on the carbon footprint of the humble shrimp. Just one more awful thing to think about the next time you order the surf-and-turf.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.