News & Politics

Looking for Cheap Blue Crab? Buy a Plane Ticket to France

The East Coast delicacy has begun to invade the Mediterranean, and the French are not impressed.

The French Mediterranean is apparently becoming overrun with blue crabs that have been hitching rides in the ballast waters of trans-Atlantic commercial ships. In the Mid-Atlantic, this would be cause for rejoicing, as massive efforts have been taken to keep populations of the local delicacy at sustainable levels—and crab prices shot up this summer. For the French, it is decidedly less so.

Concern from fisherman and ecologists about the invasive crabs is understandable, as the species has been destroying populations of eels, oysters, and mussels in the area. Less comprehensible: the French simply…don’t like blue crab. Perhaps it’s due to the country being decidedly sans Old Bay (or Vielle Baie as they might call it), but the adage about one man’s trash rings true here, as the French valuation for blue crab is roughly nine percent of the pricing across the pond.

Which led this crab lover to question: At what point is it cheaper to just book the transatlantic flight as opposed to buying the blue crab domestically? After doing a little math to convert kilos to pounds and euros to dollars, we come out with the following valuations:

  • Mid-Atlantic: $5.35 per crab
  • France: $0.51 per crab

Looking at Google flights, one could purchase a roundtrip flight from Washington to Nice for roughly $700. Working under the assumption that crabs are sold by the dozen, you break almost even by the time you purchase 12 dozen, or about 2 bushels of crabs. Once you purchase 13 dozen, it becomes cheaper to fly to France by almost $50. Food for thought next time you head out to the crab shack — you could be sunning in Marseille for less.

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Jane Recker
Assistant Editor

Jane is a Chicago transplant who now calls Cleveland Park her home. Before joining Washingtonian, she wrote for Smithsonian Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, where she studied journalism and opera.