Catfish Days: From Belzoni to the Big Apple
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In the second half of the 20th century, eager investors, from city slickers to country folks, and others poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the southern United States to build catfish farms, processing plants and infrastructure.
Likened to the California Gold Rush of a century earlier, raising catfish was seen as a panacea for a down economy - even easy money. More than 150,000 acres of catfish ponds were built and stocked in the Mississippi Delta and neighboring states, as an obliging news media served up the feel-good story like an all-you-can-eat buffet.
But by the year 2000, when catfish farmers over-produced and Asians began shipping cheap fish to the U.S. by the boatloads, the glamour was fading. Almost overnight, an industry was in full retreat, losing thousands of jobs in the South's poorest regions.
In Catfish Days: From Belzoni to the Big Apple, Mike McCall, editor of The Catfish Journal for more than 25 years, chronicles the rise, fall, and survival of one of America's most unique business episodes in the last 100 years.