Spotlight on 5 Sustainable U.S. Shellfish Farms that are Getting It Right

By Rowan Jacobsen, "Digging Dinner," May/June 2011

What's not to love about healthy and succulent farmed mussels, clams and oysters?

Today, most of the oysters, clams and mussels in North America are farmed, and that's a good thing. These farms take the pressure off wild populations. Salmon farms have given aquaculture a bad name, but that's because of the tons of feed dumped into their pens, which contribute to nutrient pollution and algae blooms. Bivalves (the shellfish category that includes oysters, clams and mussels), on the other hand, get all their food by straining algae out of the water, which keeps bays clean, clear and more productive for other life.

Unlike terrestrial farms, bivalve farms need no feed, no fertilizer, no pesticides, no irrigation. "Never in human history has our need to minimize our impact on ocean resources been higher, and shellfish farms are a fantastic means to do this," says Brian Kingzett of the Centre for Shellfish Research in British Columbia, who is working with the Food Alliance to certify shellfish farms for sustainability. "They produce heart-healthy seafood in a way that has a minimal and often positive impact on ocean resources."

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