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Shrimping in the Midwest: A sustainable solution for America's seafood

Some 600 miles away from the ocean, a small Indiana farm is a key player in the emerging trend of indoor shrimp farming.
Shrimping in the midwest: A sustainable solution for America's seafood
Posted at 7:08 PM, Sep 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-08 21:39:07-04

In the midst of corn country in rural Indiana stands a typical red barn. But what it produces might catch you off guard.

"I would have never in a million years thought we'd be selling that much shrimp here," says Karlanea Brown, co-owner of RDM Shrimp.

Past the reception and retail store at her farm, there are two vast and humid rooms packed with saltwater tanks: The nursery for the baby shrimp, and next door the barn for when they get older.

Every 25 days, Brown receives around 50,000 infant shrimp from hatcheries in Florida or Texas.

It takes five months to grow them to market size — and sell them directly to customers.

The key to keeping them alive? "It's all about the water. That's why we do nine tests daily on our tanks," she said.

Back in 2010, when Brown and her husband first ventured into indoor shrimp farming, there were only two other similar operations in the whole country.

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Today you'll find around 20 — and the Browns helped half of them get started.

"We need to get more of us so that we can be more sustainable and have that much better product than what we're actually eating," said Brown.

The U.S. imports about 90% of its seafood from abroad, but scientists believe overfishing and concerns over racking up "food miles," could help boost the aquaculture industry here in the U.S. 

"This is probably one of the components of our future food supply," said Paul Brown, a professor of aquaculture and aquaponics at Purdue University.

Plus, Karlanea Brown says her product, which doesn't contain hormones or antibiotics, tastes a lot better. "You're going to really love shrimp once you know what a real shrimp tastes like," she says.

She sells about 500 pounds of shrimp a month. And because her customers can't get enough of her product, she plans to soon build a new barn with 24 new production tanks.

"I'm in the middle of nowhere and people drive on average 2 hours to come and get our product," Brown said.

It turns out rural Indiana or, as Brown calls it, "the middle of nowhere," is as good a place as any to raise and sell shrimp.


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