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A Food Desert? Locally Grown Shrimp Arrive in Las Vegas

If you're planning a trip to Las Vegas this fall, be sure to try the desert-grown shrimp cocktail. It's more sustainable than it sounds.

Anyone who's dined at a Las Vegas buffet has experienced the city's obsession with shrimp cocktail. The formerly high-end hors d'oeuvre has been mass-produced in Vegas to the point where you can now pick up a parfait glass packed with the stuff for $1.99. The 22-million pounds of shrimp eaten there each year exact a severe toll on the environment, as most are flown in frozen from places like Texas, where shrimp cultivation happens at the expense of mangrove forests.

But a new land-farm 30 miles north of Vegas is preparing for its first harvest of shrimp, locally grown in the heart of the desert. Pioneering a sustainable aquaculture technology, Blue Oasis Pure Shrimp intends to grow half a million pounds of shrimp in its first year using a series of temperature-controlled, chemical- and antibiotic-free, indoor, salt water "ponds" within recycled shipping containers. "One of the things that makes our technology so unique and so special is our ability to place these plants and facilities any place in the United States or the world for that matter," Scott McManus, CEO of Blue Oasis, told the Associated Press. "We can put it in the desert. We can literally put it in Siberia." The ponds are a closed-loop system, which means they don't excrete waste into the local environment.

Chefs at upscale casino restaurants on Las Vegas's infamous Strip are signing up to feature the sustainably grown crustacean on their menus. Michael Minor, executive chef at Border Grill, told The Las Vegas Sun that the shrimp tasted great—way fresher than the typical frozen fare. Call it a victory for locavores in the desert, who might otherwise have to subsist on tequila and nopal tacos.

Photo (cc) via Flickr user joepyrek

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