These days, people don't just pay attention to what they eat, but also where it's from and how it's made.
The demand for locally grown, free range, and sustainably farmed ingredients is growing by the day.
Now, the owner of a seafood restaurant has come up with a creative and cruelty-free way to serve lobster.
And her recipe features just a hint of marijuana.
"The difference it makes within the meat itself is unbelievable."
Head to Charlotte's Legendary Lobster Pound in Southwest Harbor, Maine, and you could be one of the first to try owner Charlotte Gill's novel lobster-culling technique.
Normally, a lobster is boiled or steamed while still alive. Gill adds another step to the recipe: getting the crustacean high before cooking it.
"The animal is already going to be killed," Gill told The Mount Desert Islander. "It is far more humane to make it a kinder passage."
Here's how Gill's method actually works:
First, the lobster to be cooked is put in a separate smoking tank with just a few inches of water. Then, an air mattress pump pushes marijuana smoke into the water, sedating the animal. Finally, the lobster is steamed and served to the customer.
The result is a "stoned and steamed" lobster, and Gill claims they suffer less than animals that are boiled without being sedated.
But the cooking process means there's no trace of marijuana left in the finished meal. "I’m not selling an edible," Gill explained.
The technique was apparently the result of Gill's own guilty conscience - and her license to grow medical marijuana.
"I feel bad that when lobsters come here there is no exit strategy," Gill said. "It's a unique place and you get to do such unique things but at the expense of this little creature. I've really been trying to figure out how to make it better."
The restaurateur also says her smoked lobsters are also "happier" than regular crustaceans, and taste better as a result.
"The difference it makes within the meat itself is unbelievable," she said. "Everything you put into your body is energy."
So far, "stoned and steamed" is just one option available at the Lobster Pound, but Gill plans to switch entirely to stoned lobsters by next season.
Do Lobsters Feel Pain?
While Gill has obviously taken a side, the debate over whether or not lobsters can even feel pain in the first place is still hotly contested.
The Lobster Institute of Maine says that lobsters, like other invertebrate animals, do not have nervous systems well-developed enough to feel pain the way humans do. But they can still react to stimulus - like trying to wriggle out of a boiling pot.
A Norwegian study seemed to back up this view, arguing that lobsters literally don't have the brainpower to feel pain. But researchers for from Queen’s University in Belfast say that crustaceans do feel pain, after observing crabs who learned to hide to avoid an electric shock.
Switzerland and New Zealand have already sided with the lobsters, outlawing cooking live lobsters. Instead, the animals are electrocuted or slaughtered humanely.
Gill calls both of those methods "horrible options."
The Lobster Institute also recommends bathing a lobster in cold water, or putting it in the freezer for a short time, which puts the animal "to sleep."
The one thing researchers can agree on is that lobsters don't "scream" when they're boiled alive. That sound is actually made by air escaping from their shells.
There's no telling if Gill's procedure will catch on, but at least one lobster has already given it two claws up.
Gill used a lobster named Roscoe as the guinea pig for her smoke box design, and noticed he seeemed to "mellow out" after being dosed.
Roscoe spent three weeks in a lobster tank after being smoked, and Gill says he was not aggressive to other lobsters, even after his claw bands were taken off.
Gill returned Roscoe to the ocean after her experiment was complete, as a reward for his contribution to science.