Friday, May 7, 2010

The Gulf Spill

An oil slick the size of the state of Delaware... or is it West Virginia?  It is hard to believe that for over 2 weeks now, 17 days and counting, oil has been flooding the Gulf of Mexico, with no real end in site.  We just returned from the Gulf Coast of Florida, where locals are watching the news and their beaches wondering when this terrible deluge will reach their shores and what the impact will be.
I want to share with you an excerpt of an article I happened upon in Thursday’s Sarasota Herald Tribune, Fishing families are living on edge, by Zac Anderson. 

"The 25-year-old fisherman with sandpaper hands and a middle school education hasn't slept in three days, shrimping under a crescent moon until dawn breaks over Apalachicola Bay and he can scrape one of Florida's largest estuaries for oysters.

It is a heart-attack schedule, but Crosby is trying to stockpile food and cash, and with his livelihood jeopardized by leaking oil and two children to care for, two car payments, mobile home rent due and a wife so worried about the family's future she hasn't stopped crying for a week.

"I am seriously thinking about taking her to the doctor, she don't stop," Crosby said, his Southern drawl turning words like thinking into 'thankin'.

"She's goin' crazy." "

13% of USA oysters come from this little region of Northwest Florida brought from the sea to our plate by generations of Gulf coast fishermen like Mr. Crosby.   

Florida seafood has been a part of my family’s history for over 100 years.  My great grandfather owned Standard Marine Hardware, which sold everything a working mariner could possibly need, but they specialized in nets for fishermen and shrimpers.  My cousin moved the company from Amelia Island to Tampa in the early nineties because of the demand of the Gulf Coast shrimping industry.   I spent the first 18 years of my life living on the Gulf, and it blows my mind that the entire gorgeous body of water could be ruined.  

When Chef called in the restaurant seafood order two days ago, our purveyor said the price of shrimp is sky rocketing and is going to continue to rise. 

The fishermen and shrimpers in Northwest Florida are desperate.  They are trying to catch as much as possible, because as one fella said in the article "They are all going to die anyway."  They are selling what they can and freezing the rest so they can feed their families when the oil clouds their waters. 

What can we do now to help?  Buy USA seafood, support our fishermen.  Prices may be going up, but it also may be the last time you get the opportunity to taste Gulf Coast shell fish.  It makes me really sad to think about it.  It is the shrimp used in the nation's first pots of has a rich culinary history and the regional cultures that built their traditions around it may be lost as well.

The magnitude of this terrible mess is hard to digest.  A tragedy.

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