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FOOD: Stone Crabs

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336149.  Wed May 14, 2008 9:05 am Reply with quote

Q: Can you name an animal you can eat without killing it?

F: Hot dog???

A: The Stone Crab of Florida and the Bahamas.


Only the claws of the stone crab are eaten - the rest of the animal is returned to the sea alive (or “unharmed,” as the crab industry rather debatably puts it), where it takes roughly a year to grow another set of claws of harvestable size.

The claw - which can weigh up to three-quarters of a pound, around half the crab’s total weight - is said to be the best of all crab meats, and is typically eaten with a butter and mustard sauce.

Floridian crabbers take an annual harvest of between 3 million and 3.5 million pounds of claws.

It’s skilled work: if the claw isn't taken cleanly, the crab will die. The crabber takes the crab out of the trap, which has been hauled aboard his boat, wrestles the animal to his chest, and snaps off the claws. He puts the claws into a bucket of sea water, and the rest of the crab back into the water to grow what are called “retreads.”

Stone crabs have only two predators: humans and octopuses. They are strong animals, and if not held tightly can give the crabber a nasty nip - but only before he’s snapped their claws off, obviously.

Extra notes:
*There is a bit of General Ignorance to the effect that honey is the only foodstuff which does not involve the death of any organism. This is plainly nonsense; for instance, the organism known as an apple tree does not die when we eat one of its fruits.

*There are parts of the world where people harvest blood from living livestock; for instance, Masai herdsmen of Kenya and Northern Tanzania traditionally harvested blood from their cattle by cutting a small nick in the jugular vein and then patching the animal up when they'd got enough. They'd mix it with milk and drink it. This is worth mentioning purely for the sake of WB’s suggestion of an advertising slogan for the drink: “Masai'n Bru made by herders."

*Supplementary question for Alan: “So, is it OK for vegetarians to eat stone crabs?”


Picture: Perhaps a huge sandwich with a big bite taken out of it?


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