Prawn Stir-Fry (and what it means for Bangladesh)

We cooked a prawn stir-fry last night. It is really simple to do (packet of fresh stir-fry veg, egg noodles, frozen prawns, jar of supermarket sauce, big wok…you get the idea). It tastes great, its healthy, and, for a food photographer like me it looks fantastic (look at the colours…).

Apart from food and photography, one of my other passions is travel. Holding down a day job means that the majority of my time is spent at home, not on the road. I like, therefore, to indulge in “armchair travel” – watching high quality travel programmes on TV. My favourite presenter of the genre is a guy called Simon Reeve. He is a likeable fellow and he makes connections with the people he bumps into on his travels, whether they are kids working in sweatshops, Somalian pirates, or Government officials. He also shows the hidden side of countries, the parts other travel programmes gloss over.

In his recent “Indian Ocean” series he explained that the majority of prawns destined for the American and European market are farmed in Bangladesh. As you may know Bangladesh is a low lying country just to the east of India. Climatic conditions make it great for growing farmed prawns. However, as Reeve points out in his documentary, allowing low lying farmland to flood with sea water to grow the prawns makes it useless (for generations) for growing anything else. A desolate prawn wasteland is being formed where no crops can ever grow….just to let us eat prawn stir-fry…!!

I’m not saying stop eating prawns. I’m just saying that there is always an impact of Western demand, and sometimes it is detrimental to others.

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