WHAT IS A SHRIMP?
It is one of the smaller members of the crustacean family. They’re thought to be the Neanderthal precursors of most of today’s larger arthopod pylum (invertebrate creatures with chitinous exoskeletons like spiders). Shrimp are marine garbage men who live on the bottom of the sea. As babies floating on water they eat a healthy vegetarian diet of plankton and algae. But as they grow older they sink to the bottom of the ocean floor. Becoming scavengers, their feed consists of any organic matter that they can stir up (dead fish, clams, skin, worms, etc). These future cocktail decorations will even eat each other while they’re still alive (so long as they’re smaller)! Social in nature, these crustaceans travel in large schools. And 1 mother shrimp can lay up to a million eggs which hatch in 24 hours.
WHERE DO SHRIMP COME FROM?
Where don’t they come from is a better question! Shrimp live in both fresh and salt water, and can be found to depths of over 16,000 feet (5,000 meters). From tropical to polar climates, these future amuse bouches are one of the most adaptable appetizers on the planet.
WHEN IS A SHRIMP IN SEASON?
Because of their popularity, they’re now available year-round in most parts of the world. In the North American wild depending on the breed they are a May through August or June through December catch. Down under they have an April through June and August through December season.
AM I EATING UNHEALTHY, COUNTERFEIT SHRIMP?
Yes and no. So while you are most likely still eating shrimp (as opposed to prawns or crayfish), you may not be eating wild ones. In one study, 30% of the farmed shrimp sold in the U.S.A. was deliberately labeled as more their more expensive wild or Gulf cousins. Check out these recommendations for how to buy high quality, authentic shrimp!