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LA shrimp season opens, healthy seafood on menu

Kevin Savoie - Friday, May 13, 2016
The spring shrimp season is set to open May 23, which means America’s favorite seafood will soon be plentiful and easy to add to our weekly menu.  Local shrimpers are hopeful large volumes of Gulf shrimp caught in Marshrimp boatch will translate to a great brown shrimp season in May and June.

“Consumers should know that fresh, wild caught Louisiana shrimp will soon be readily available,” said Thomas Hymel, LSU AgCenter/Louisiana Sea Grant extension agent, and director of the Louisiana Direct Seafood program.  “Lucky for us, more and more evidence points to the importance of seafood in a healthy diet.”

According to seafoodhealthfacts.org, health experts recommend eating a variety of seafood at least twice a week.  Nutritional benefits of seafood include:

•    A good source of high quality protein, that is easier to digest
•    Fewer calories compared to other protein dense foods.
•    Low levels of total and saturated fat, with most kinds of fish and shellfish containing less than 5 percent total fat.
•    A main source of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA) and docsahexaenoic acid (DHA)

These important fatty acids provide significant health benefits, like helping to build muscles and tissue and reducing the risk of heart disease in adults.  Just one 3 ounce serving of shrimp contains over 293 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acid.

Though fresh, wild caught Louisiana shrimp is easy to find, and is a good choice for your health, it is important to remember that not all seafood is created equal.  Domestic shrimp, and other seafood, is a better—and often safer—choice than some imports.  

Reports of shrimp refused entry into the U.S., due to antibiotics found in samples, as well as investigations into slave labor used in shrimp processing plants overseas, have some consumers concerned.

 “Most people don’t realize that 94 percent of our shrimp is imported, mainly from countries such as India, Thailand and Indonesia,” said Thomas Hymel, LSU AgCenter/Louisiana Sea Grant extension agent, and director of the Louisiana Direct Seafood program.  “But there is no need to abandon your love of shrimp, as you can take steps to make sure you know where your seafood comes from.  Carefully reading labels, especially the back of the product, for country of origin is one way.  Buying direct from fishermen, or a trusted local retailer, is another.”

LouisianaDirectSeafood.com, an initiative administered by Louisiana Sea Grant and LSU AgCenter, provides an online resource for consumers to connect with fishermen in four main coastal areas—Cameron, Delcambre, Lafourche-Terrebonne, and Southshore/New Orleans.   Each area has it’s own web site, where fishermen can post their most recent catch for sale, and how to contact them directly.  Facebook pages and e-newsletters for each region also serve to keep consumers in the know.

“There is a reason farm-to-table has become so popular,” said Hymel.  “People are looking to make a connection with their food, and with local producers.  Seafood fresh off the boat has nutritional benefits, as well as superior taste and texture.

“Though we’re talking up the opening of shrimp season, summer is a great time for all manner of fresh seafood, as crabs get fatter and many species of fish are running like red snapper, tuna, wahoo and king mackerel.  Even oysters are available and safe to eat thanks to time and temperature safety rules; plus a new method of off bottom oyster farming produces a delicious summer oyster.  How fortunate we are to have all this bounty at our fingertips.”
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Cameron Direct Seafood
Kevin A. Savoie, Area Agent
7101 Gulf Hwy, Lake Charles, LA 70607
Email: ksavoie@agcenter.lsu.edu
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