Seeing the faces of our food system. Louisiana and its proud history of providing for our table.
By Barton Seaver
In this country, blessed with plenty, we have long honored the role of food producers in our communities. Beginning with our founding fathers; founding farmers, most of them, we’ve long had a connection to the land. This country is also blessed more so than any other with the riches of the ocean. And yet, as commerce has globalized and our urban communities have found themselves continuously disassociated from sources of our food, it is the men and women who put seafood on our tables that we have neglected most. In many parts of our country, we don’t identify ourselves through connection to the sea. But in Louisiana, that culture and identity has never waned. In fact, in most parts of Louisiana that I recently visited, finding a patch of solid ground proved far more challenging than finding a delicious plate of fried shrimp.
For all the hardships borne by fisherman; changing environments, shifting fish populations, disasters both natural and manmade, the will to endure is engrained in the maritime communities of Louisiana. A melting pot of cultures, Acadian and Vietnamese and Croatian and others, successive waves of immigration have made these communities as diverse as the fish they work to catch. This wealth of experiences, strength, and pride is the foundation of the resourcefulness of these people. Fishermen are indeed the ultimate engineers, for the boats they work on are islands unto themselves and it’s only by their wit and ability that brings them home safe to port. This same resourcefulness is now being applied to developing new markets for their product, distinguishing Wild Louisiana seafood from cheaper imports through the one quality for which it has no equal: taste. And taste is the gateway through which we will come to know and honor the men and women who bring delicious seafood to our tables. Those shrimp on your plate should come with a story of our national heritage, the heritage of all of us, that these fishing communities labor to maintain.