It’s been a big day for crab news, so let’s get into the crab news, shall we? First up in crab news:
Harry Phillips, the owner of Russell Hall Seafood, is having a rough month. A piece on NPR’s All Things Considered featured a conversation with Phillips, who has not been able to hire a single crab picker this season. Like, not one. The Trump administration issued guest worker visas by lottery this year, with the result that many of the industry’s usual crab workers failed to receive a visa. Phillips has placed ads in papers, attempting to hire local workers, and has received exactly zero applications. The result?
MARTIN: Well, what’s going to happen - forgive me for asking worst-case scenario - if you can’t get any workers to come, what do you do?
PHILLIPS: We don’t do anything. I mean, we’ll lose our customers. Because some people did get their workers, about half of us got them and half of us didn’t, of the packing plants in Maryland. And no doubt, restaurants want Maryland crab meat.
The whole piece is worth a listen (or a read). In short, if you can’t get decent Maryland crab cakes this summer, you’ve got someone to blame.
This is cool. Scientist Gabby Bradt and chef and restauranteur Matt Louis have partnered to find a way to reduce the population of an invasive species through dining. The Associated Press reports that green crabs, which are “are badly hurting New England’s soft shell clam populations,” feature prominently in a new menu item at Louis’s restaurant Moxy. The dish: a green crab stew with chicken sausage and chili oil.
Louis told the AP that because the shells of green crabs are very hard, “he extracts flavor by cooking them whole to make stocks and stew.”
Eat crab to save crabs. That’s pretty cool.
The Baltimore Sun reports that crab carryout businesses feel they’re being unfairly targeted by a change to food stamp policy. The shift, which retailers were informed of in 2017, requires carryout locations to a) sell crab either alive or raw, but not cooked, and b) stock a variety of foods. If they don’t, they won’t be eligible to accept food stamps. Per the Sun:
State Del. Richard K. Impallaria, a Republican who represents parts of Baltimore and Harford counties, said he is urging state leaders in Washington and Annapolis to push back against the crab crackdown by food stamp regulators. He said he worries that it could exacerbate problems with food deserts in places such as Baltimore.
“It is inherently unfair for the USDA to malign seafood as an elitist food product,” Impallaria wrote in a letter to The Baltimore Sun. “These new regulations disproportionately shift a large fraction of the financial burden onto seafood businesses located in less affluent areas.”
Sorry to end your crab news digest on a down note, but there you have it. Hey, at least science is cool.