Get with the Times 

The saying “everything old is new again” speaks to trends that see faded Nirvana and Guns N’ Roses concert tees flying off the shelves and quickly affixed to a generation of teens who’ve likely never listened to either. It’s a thing. It’s a statement. It’s a celebration of vintage coolness. But it’s not a trend that should be embraced by journalists in their current reporting. 

A recent New York Times article about shrimp dug deep into outdated postures about seafood apparently in order to recycle hyperbole. Unable to ignore the FDA calling shrimp a “best choice”, the article searches far and wide for “health downsides” and comes up with the admonition that people who have “sulfite or phosphate sensitivities may want to avoid” some shrimp. Ahhh yes, the immense sulfite and phosphate sensitive community thanks the Old Gray Lady for sounding the alarm.   

Retreading the many times disproven mercury myth, the article wonders aloud if the chemical element could be present in shrimp. It even employes an expert biologist from exotic Spain to tell readers there’s “no excessive risk.” Narrowly avoiding the type of embarrassing pronouncements and prognostications published by Consumer Reports only five months before.  

Taking aim at “antibiotics in imported shrimp”, the Times asks an expert from Louisiana about the issue. Keep in mind Louisiana is the epicenter of anti-imported shrimp activism. The paper could have asked any toxicologist from a reputable university, who was familiar with the topic, but they chose Louisiana. Despite the rather apparent set up, the expert finds no “grave health risk” associated with the concerns raised. 

With an eye towards a much-needed green angle, the report wrings its proverbial hands about coastal habitats, pollution, and an “enormous ecological price” by citing previous Times stories from 2003, 2008 and 2012.  Keeping in lock step with the “everything old is new again” mantra. 

Like any food farmed or caught to feed a growing planet, shrimp production has an impact. It has aspects where it could use improvement and it has facets where it excels.   Articles that try to revive outdated concerns with little to no new reporting are not cool and vintage, they’re awkward and tiresome.