“I never thought I’d be a shrimp snob,” Karlanea Brown said. And yet, here she is, part owner and manager of the small, indoor, shrimp farm RDM Aquaculture in Fowler, Indiana and self-proclaimed shrimp snob.
Karlanea can’t go to a restaurant without grilling the server on where the shrimp is from. And when visitors to her farm sample her shrimp, she insists they take the first bite without one of the ten sauces that are laid out on the table. She wants people to taste the difference, to taste the quality. And her customers are coming from Michigan, Illinois, and Kentucky, just to get their hands on some of this shrimp. What’s different about it? Well, it’s harvested daily, and sold live. And for landlocked folks (and even for the rest of us), that’s quite a treat.
“I have this little goal to make Indiana the shrimp capital of the world!” she told me on the phone recently. Yes, she’s serious, and she’s doing a pretty good job at it too.
Since RDM Aquaculture sold it’s first shrimp in 2010, there have been half a dozen farms that have opened in the region – which Karlanea has helped to facilitate. And there are about 19 closed recirculating shrimp farms around the United States. Part of the trend has been to turning old chicken facilities into shrimp farming facilities. The longest standing farm, Marvesta, located in Hurlock, Maryland, is featured in our upcoming film, Raising Shrimp as well as Natural Shrimp, a farm outside of San Antonio.
As we often talk about here at Fish Navy Films, eating seafood that’s low on the food chain (shrimp can be thought of as an aquatic insect) is great for a variety of reasons, which is why we’re pretty excited to see these shrimp farms popping up around the United States.
The problem is, right now these farms don’t really produce enough shrimp to compete with the massive amount of shrimp we’re importing and consuming. And ideally, they would be eating vegetarian feed- maybe one day! But we’re glad they’re here as an alternative to wild shrimp that’s been caught with a trawl, or imported shrimp that may (or may not) have been inspected at the borders for gnarly antibiotics and pesticides.
For those who can get their hands on some of this shrimp, (some of these farms ship their product), lucky you! We’d love to hear what you think about it! For those of you who want to find a farm near you, we’ll be putting out a list of these farms shortly.