My long-time and very dear friend Kerry Dugas – we met in 1972 as freshmen at Archbishop Shaw High School – works at Sysco Foods in New Orleans. He just wrote to inform me of this new piece of protectionist legislation enacted by the solons of Louisiana. It sports the informal moniker “Crawfish and Shrimp Menu Labeling Act.”
Here’s the text of Kerry’s e-mail to me:
Up until now, patrons of Louisiana restaurants were ignorant victims of sinister imported seafood merchants.
A big thanks to the Louisiana Dept. of Health Information and Act 372, enforcing the labeling of Crawfish and Shrimp served in Louisiana restaurants as to their source.
This is, of course, the eventual outcome of local lobbies petitioning The State to protect the local fisherman, trawlers and Crawfish Farmers. What they choose NOT to recognize is that the influx of imported shrimp and crawfish into the market ENHANCED the use of these items in menus – shining new uses of crawfish and shrimp. In our day you wouldn’t see a dish of crawfish and grits. BBQ’d shrimp wasn’t a “thing”. And does the public care one way or the other? When I worked those two years at Wal Mart in the meat dept., we stocked frozen crawfish tails. Imports would fly off the shelves while the domestic product sat.
Is the local product better than imports? Chinese crawfish tend to be rubbery and fatless, too clean. Spanish packers produce crawfish tail with fat, protecting the flavor and providing less of a bouncy chew. Imports have gotten better. Yes, Louisiana crawfish are superior in quality and flavor, but depending on the application. That quality can get lost in the dish. Would be like using top shelf superior Tequila in a Margarita, the nuances of the fine tequila get lost with the lime juice.
Local seafood providers could and should promote, proclaim that theirs is better through public education and working a cooperative. Come up with a Local Seafood logo to be placed on menus, much like the Certified Angus Beef (CAB) label used by cattle farmers. Proclaim who THEY are, not who the other guys’ aren’t.
But no. We just pass a law.
Well said, my wise and astute friend.
Despite being born and bred a city boy and having neither interest nor aptitude for huntin’ or fishin’, I’m rather proud of my cajun heritage. (My paternal grandfather, born on a bayou in 1900, wasn’t fluent in English until he ran away from home in 1915 to New Orleans.) But that pride dims more than a bit when I encounter this sort of greedy use of state power by my cajun cousins to gain an artificial competitive advantage in the market.
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