Like most seafood delicacies, oyster consumption has impacted the population, but according to new studies, a safer way of harvesting the mollusc has endless benefits.
According to National Geographic, when it comes to shucking and eating oysters, it's all about how it's done. A new trend has risen in popularity to help keep up with consumer demand: farmed oysters. This new alternative allows for mass consumption without the negative consequences, which have been of major concern in recent decades. Despite oyster shucking dating back over 165,000 years, the state of the oyster population has been in decline around coastal Atlantic and Pacific regions due to modern factors such as pollution and overfishing. But, luckily, farmed oyster harvesting has done its part in righting the course.
In places like Maine, Louisiana, Virginia, and beyond, trails have been set up for visitors to try their luck at oyster farming and get a sea-to-table experience before dining. Organizers such as the Love Point Oysters and Maine Oyster Trail have benefited from a rise in domestic tourism due to the pandemic, and have seen a rush of vacationing Americans stop by the various trail points to learn more about this salty snack. Beyond boosting seaside economies and sustainably harvesting, this new trend has made a positive impact on the native oyster population.
These farmed oysters provide all the benefits of their wild counterparts without encroaching on their territory. Positives of the farmed alternative include minimal use of harmful resources like fertilizer or food, in addition to cleaning waterways. According to National Geographic, oysters have the ability to clean up to 50 gallons of seawater every day and cleanse it of harmful toxins like nitrogen. Essentially, they're mini sea vacuums that hoover away pollution floating in the water from pesticides and general climate change.
This trend has begun sweeping across coastal America, with the venture proving to be profitable for the local businesses. Plus, visitors know they're getting a tasty, educational, and environmentally friendly experience all in one. "Since farming actually has a positive benefit on biodiversity, we should be encouraging more of it," said Robert Jones from the Nature Conservancy.