In the School of Innovation, Less Is Often More

Table of Contents

The Smart Takeout Overview

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Synopsis

One of the most frequently eaten types of shellfish is shrimp. It is very nutritious and offers large concentrations of several nutrients not available in many other foods, such as iodine. Shrimps are high in cholesterol, but they also contain nutrients that have been shown to support heart health. Shrimp study has demonstrated positive health benefits as well. Furthermore, shrimp is one of the best sources of iodine in food, an essential mineral which many individuals are deficient. For proper thyroid function and brain health, iodine is required. In addition to astaxanthin antioxidants, which can have various health benefits, shrimp is also a good source of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. On the other hand, some individuals say that shrimp is unhealthy because of its high cholesterol content. In addition, farm-raised shrimp is widely believed to have some adverse health effects compared to wild-caught shrimp. It is also imported from other countries because of the high demand for shrimp in the U.S.A.  More than 80% of the shrimp eaten in the U.S.A comes from overseas countries such as Thailand, India, and Indonesia. Although this improves access to shrimp, farm-raised is the majority of imported shrimp, which means it is produced in industrial tanks that are submerged in water bodies. Owing to its high vulnerability to infection, farm-raised seafood from other countries is often treated with antibiotics. The U.S.A does not, however, authorize antibiotics to be used in shrimp and other shellfish. A new approach developed by Dr. Lawrence that solves these problems will be discussed in this paper.

Analysis

Since the 1980s, the United States and other developed countries have increasingly depended on other shrimp production nations. As scientists have struggled to find a way to provide fresh shrimp and other seafood to inland populations, they have turned to a technology in which shrimp are farmed indoors in large, rectangular tubs of water, laid out side by side. But this method, known as “raceways” technology, does not produce enough seafood to be very cost-effective. That’s because only so many tubs can fit in a confined space, requiring a large facility to produce large quantities of seafood, especially for shrimp. Given the limitations, importing shrimp has remained far cheaper than farming them near the consumer. Agricultural experts were stymied until Dr. Addison L. Lawrence, a scientist at the Texas AgriLife Research Mariculture Laboratory, had an idea so simple that it was revolutionary: Why not stack the tubs on top of one another? And so was born the concept of “super-intensive stacked raceways,” an innovation that makes it possible to produce up to one million pounds of shrimp annually per acre of water, compared with the 20,000 pounds produced by natural ponds and the 50,000 pounds produced by the original raceways system, Dr. Lawrence said. The technology is now being used in production facilities in the U.S. Although Dr. Lawrence labored on his invention for close to a decade, he acknowledges that the idea behind it was as “simple as heck.

” Anything outstanding and patentable is as simple as can be,” he says. The logic may seem counterintuitive at first. After all, we tend to associate innovations, particularly technological ones, with many whiteboards’ worth of impossible-to-decipher code and scientific theorems that only the most advanced minds can comprehend. Yet talk to those progressive minds, and they’ll inevitably tell you: Keep it simple. “Simplicity is always something to strive for,” says Steven J. Paley, an inventor who holds nine patents and is the author of “The Art of Invention: The Creative Process of Discovery and Design.” “Most people try and come up with a solution. It is much easier to add complexity than to work and discover simplicity. I think people do know this, but it’s hard.” John Maeda, president of the Rhode Island School of Design and author of “The Laws of Simplicity,” echoes that notion. “It’s everyone’s instinct to want more,” Mr. Maeda says. “We are programmed to want more food, just in case we won’t have a chance to eat tomorrow. So we eat a lot today. More is safety. More is when you’re at the checkout counter, and there are more features.” But, he says, people ultimately don’t want all the extras: “At the point of desire you want more, but at the point of daily use, you want less.” But what does “simple” mean, exactly? Obvious? Consisting of only a few parts?

To improve the efficiency of farming shrimp in indoor tubs, Addison L. Lawrence had a simple solution: stacking the tubs atop one another. A pipe, top, is used in moving shrimp between tubs, one of which is at right. Above, Dr. Lawrence holds a shrimp that is about half to two-thirds its size at harvesting. Mr. Paley defines the term as “doing the most with the least.” He points to the paper clip as an example. “All it is is a wire with three bends in it. It relies on the twistable properties of the wire. “Something like that, who would have thought about it?” Mr. Paley asks.” But once you see it: Ah! So obvious.” Still, a simple invention can also be deceptively complicated or made up of nuanced details, which is often what makes it valuable, not to mention patentable and, hopefully, commercial. The Xerox copy machine, for example, is based on the “single, simple principle of static electricity,” Mr. Paley says. Inside the device is a drum, charged with static electricity, that attracts toner particles. The mechanics of actually building a copier were such that it took 22 years for the first Xerox machine to hit the market in 1960. For Dr. Lawrence, the “simple” idea of stacking the tubs would work only if he could figure out how to make them lighter. In the original raceways design, the name is inspired by the circulating water in the tubs, which resembles horses on a racetrack; there were three to five water feet in each tub, making them too heavy to stack. (The tanks, which Dr. Lawrence describes as looking like “big, overgrown hog troughs,” are 50 to 150 yards long and 3 to 5 yards wide.)

So, in 2000, he asked himself whether he could raise shrimp in much shallower water. He recalled what happened next: “I went up to the engineering school. I said, ‘O.K., what is the maximum water depth that I can have, where it would be economical to stack the raceways?’ “They said, ‘You can’t get over 12 inches of water.’ Reason being, the deeper the water, the weight goes up so much that you lose the structural support.” A year later, Dr. Lawrence conducted his first shallow-water experiments, discovering that the shrimp could grow in as little as four inches of water. “I said: ‘Wow.’ It was so unbelievable to me. So I spent the next four to five years experimenting with experiment, testing it in different ways, to confirm to myself that this approach was economical and could be done.” Finally, in 2008, he applied for a patent currently pending for a system in which the computer-monitored tubs are filled with six to eight inches of water and stacked seven high. In the meantime, Royal Caridea, a start-up seafood production company, has bought worldwide licensing rights to the system and is expected to break ground on a production facility in 2012. Dr. Lawrence predicts that, in time, every major metropolitan area will “have a shrimp farm right next to it” and that there will be no more reason to rely on imports. “And all I did was reduce the water depth,” he said, chuckling. “Now, is that complicated?”   

Conclusion

Shrimp is the number one seafood worldwide in terms of value. This year, shrimp prices surged nearly 40% from 2015’s $25.9 to $47 per pound and by 30%. “I don’t know why this price spike happened so suddenly,” said Joe Mancini, a food scientist at University College London specializing in fish pricing trends for Shell Oil. The rise has been attributed entirely because China lifted restrictions allowing imports of most Chinese products starting December 6th, which could lead exports to reach new highs due mostly back to increasing demand after sanctions were placed over North Korea issues. Shrimp, like other seafood, has a short shelflife and loses quality when frozen. Fresh shrimp must be shipped in tightly sealed plastic bags within 7-10 days of purchase to avoid spoiling because no bacteria present can survive freezing for long periods. Most states have laws or regulations on freeze-dried foods requiring refrigeration after four weeks as they promote the growths of beneficial microorganisms around ice cubes, which may encourage healthier fish consumption by reducing disease risk and improving overall health.

Although many countries provide requirements regarding fresh produce sold at grocery stores, it is extremely rare to find products from one country labeled “fresh”. Instead, product labeling will often indicate only canned items but does not contain sufficient information such as water content or volume required. Inland shrimp farming is challenged because it is expensive, and the quality and quantity of product is limited. For example, one study showed the total area for imported sardines increased from 438 hectares to 825 ha after imports became banned by EU ministers last year. The cost of importing fresh seaweed has also risen since January 2016, when we have launched a threefold increase in sales during these two years, up 57 percent (from €45 million) compared with 2014 as part of this effort to protect sustainability across all food products.” Dr. Lawrence of Texas A&M has integrated new technologies to overcome these problems providing the methodology to deliver high-value, cost-effective fresh shrimp to many inland consumers. These technologies include shallow, stacked raceways and biofloc based nutrition in self-contained, totally controlled systems.