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?

Rappahannock River Oysters, Chesapeake Bay, Virginia

For over a century, Chesapeake Bay produced millions of pounds of wild oysters each year, but by the 1990s overharvesting and disease had reduced oyster populations in the bay by 99 percent. But there is good news at last. Oyster farms, which were rare in the Chesapeake a decade ago, have increased dramatically and are now producing more than 10 million oysters per year. Leading the way are Travis and Ryan Croxton, great-grandsons of a well-known Virginia oysterman, whose Rappahannock River Oysters are grown on a handful of sites along the Virginia coast, each with its own distinctive flavor. Their Olde Salts are exposed to the ocean and have a salty-dog, where's-my-beer brininess. Stingrays, from midway up the Chesapeake, are balanced, a little sweet, a little salty. Their eponymous flagship oysters, grown in the mouth of the Rappahannock River, capture the fresh mineral flavor of the Blue Ridge Mountain waters.

To taste shellfish from these growers, look for them at your local markets, try special-ordering from your local seafood purveyor or, to mail-order, check out their websites.

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