Think Global, Eat Local (Seafood!)

Did you know that Louisiana is the second largest exporter of U.S. seafood bringing in $2.4 billion annually? when it comes to supplying America seafood products, Louisiana is the second largest exporter. If you are from Louisiana, most likely this isn’t news to you; it’s something you’re proud of!  Topping the list of most popular items are fish, oyster, crab, shrimp, alligator, and of course, crawfish. But how much of this is distributed to U.S. consumers, and perhaps even more importantly, what percentage of the seafood we eat is really foreign imports?

According to current data – in the US, we import about 90% of all the seafood we eat  – some of that is fish that has been exported for processing and then re-imported, racking up the food miles and using LOTS of fossil fuels in the process for transportation and refrigeration. About ½ of what we import that originates from elsewhere is farm raised – often in conditions with poor health, safety and labor standards. So Louisiana (and beyond) – think global and eat local! Read on to learn more.

While Louisiana is well known for its Cajun and Creole cuisines and the seafood that often go along with them, sometimes tourists and locals alike unknowingly order fish not from the nearby Gulf of Mexico. Up until last year, restaurants in the state were not required to specify where their products were caught. Recent state legislation now requires restaurants to specify what fish they are serving and even which body of water provided the catch. Don’t be fooled that less expensive means local – in fact it is most likely the other way, unless you are buying direct from someone who fishes or works with the fishing community, be on guard for seemingly too-low prices – cheaper seafood is often farmed imports.

Similarly, U.S. grocery stores struggle with seafood traceability. Many shoppers who frequent these large markets don’t end up putting Gulf shrimp in their carts. Rather, though frozen shrimp does come for Louisiana, it also can be from abroad, like Thailand, where fish and shrimp farms take over and pollute coastal areas.

Products labeled “Louisiana Seafood” are certified to be from Louisiana, and the website supplies a list of sources to buy and sell products commercially. Whether you’re in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, or elsewhere in the state, there’s several options available to you. Find more information on their website, Even with current COVID-19 restrictions Even in our current COVID-19 chaos, you can still find a way to purchase seafood locally. Right now, Crescent City Farmers Market is holding a drive-thru where you can order fish and shrimp online, in addition to fresh fruit, vegetables and more! Register and place your order through WhatsGood.

If you live outside of Louisiana, there are ways to track your seafood, in some cases, right to its source!  GulfWild offers a system online called TransparenSea that allows consumers to do this on a national scale. Test out your seafood tag here:

In the years to come, climate change and other challenges pose an enormous threat to fisheries worldwide, which may impact the quantity and quality of seafood. For now, small-scale land based recirculating aquaculture and aquaponics can be part of a sustainable solution that is helping to grow and supply healthy fish and green jobs in conjunction with our local fishing communities.

If you are interested in learning more about the threats of large-scale oceans aquaculture, visit our partner’s website for petitions, information and more.


Additional Sources:

Bode, Laura. “No Small Feat”, Costco Connections, July 2020

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