All You Can Eat: The True Story Behind America’s Most Popular Seafood

Americans eat more shrimp than any other seafood: on average, each person in the US gobbles up close to six pounds of the crustaceans every year. We can eat so many of these bug-like shellfish because they’re incredibly inexpensive, making them the stars of all-you-can-eat shrimp buffets and single-digit seafood deals. But we've got bad news: this is one bargain that's too good to be true. More than 90 percent of the shrimp we eat comes from overseas, where looser regulations lead to horrific labor abuses, environmental destruction, and the use of banned chemicals and antibiotics—all while American shrimpers struggle to survive. This episode, we’re exploring the history of how shrimp went from a fancy delicacy to buffet bargain (yes, Forrest Gump is involved), plus what to do if you want to enjoy everybody's favorite seafood with a clear conscience. Hold the cocktail sauce: this episode will change how you look at your favorite appetizer forever.

Episode Notes

Paul Greenberg

Paul Greenberg is a James Beard Award-winning food and environmental writer. His book, American Catch: The Fight for Our Local Seafood, tells the story of shrimp, oysters, and salmon. You can also hear him in our previous episode about oysters.

John Fallon

John Fallon is the director of sustainability and coastal conservation initiatives at the Audubon Institute in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he helped establish the Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries (G.U.L.F.) sustainable seafood program.

Ian Urbina

Author and journalist Ian Urbina is the author of the The Outlaw Ocean, as well as director of The Outlaw Ocean Project, which investigates environmental and human rights issues on the ocean. One of their most recent reports uncovered the poor labor practices in Indian shrimp processing.

Lance Nacio 

Third-generation shrimper Lance Nacio is the owner of Anna Marie Shrimp, where he catches and sells sustainable Gulf of Mexico shrimp.

Shep Baumer & Bayou Shrimp Processors

Shep Baumer is the co-owner of Bayou Shrimp Processors, Inc. in Delcambre, Louisiana, which prepares and packages Gulf shrimp for sale around the country.

Hidden Harvest

This report, published in March 2024 by the Corporate Accountability Lab, details environmental and human rights abuses in India's shrimp industry.

Buy Gulf Shrimp

If you're looking to buy sustainable Gulf shrimp, check out the direct market program in Louisiana as well as the American Shrimp Processors Association (ASPA)'s list of processors who will ship.


Click here for a transcript of the show. Please note that the transcript is provided as a courtesy and may contain errors.