The green dumpster behind Red Lobster was nearly empty when I lifted the lid. Through the effluvium of yesterday’s supper, way down, sat a couple of pretty blue boxes. I hitched myself over the rim, leaned in, and took one.
I am not a regular dumpster diver. I was driven by a hunger for knowledge. Inside the restaurant, where the décor, ambience, soundtrack—all but the smell—reeked of the sea, I asked the server who laid before me the first plate of Red Lobster’s “endless shrimp” where they came from.
“Farms,” she said.
“Where are these farms?” I asked.
“Different places.” She gave a shrug. “Do you want another beer?”
I ate only eight grilled shrimp from Red Lobster’s “endless” supply. Something was stuck in my craw. An hour before, I had been in a community hall in Brownsville, Texas, with forty-three angry, tearful American shrimpers. In a country awash in shrimp, they were going bankrupt. They had gathered to hear more bad news: severe new rules limiting what they could catch.
“What about Red Lobster?” I asked the group.
“Red Lobster!” one man shouted. “They’re our enemy. They haven’t bought a shrimp since the 1980s.”