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?

4 More U.S. Shellfish Growers Getting It Right

Each shellfish species has its own distinct flavor profile, but because they are filter feeders, all bivalves take on the salinity and minerality of their home waters. Most East Coast farms raise the briny Eastern oyster; the iodiney littleneck, cherrystone or quahog clam (three sizes of the same species); and the sweet blue mussel. Most West Coast farms grow the cucumbery Pacific oyster, the tender and colorful Manila clam and either the Blue or Mediterranean mussel (similar flavor). Here are four other growers who are producing shellfish sustainably, with a distinct taste of place.

Apalachicola Bay, Florida

Apalachicola Bay is one of the last places on Earth blessed with a thriving population of wild oysters, and the locals have always managed them carefully to keep it that way. Harvests are strictly controlled, the methods virtually unchanged since the Civil War: men in small boats pull up the oysters from the shallow bay's bottom using long tongs, instead of the mechanical dredges used in many places. The plump, meaty oysters have a rich flavor thanks to the abundance of nutrients provided by the Apalachicola River. Clams from the bay are also famously succulent. Especially in the wake of the BP oil spill, when a significant percentage of the wild oysters in Louisiana were wiped out, Apalachicola Bay, which remained pristine, is a precious gem.

Next: Hog Island Oyster Company, Tomales Bay, California »

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