Taylor Shellfish Farms, located in the Pacific Northwest, has been growing shellfish in the bays and inlets of Puget Sound for over 100 years, and they have mastered the art of packing and shipping oysters from the sea to your home.
Two days ago, I spoke with Kate at Taylor Shellfish and today my oysters arrived. To the left is a picture of the outside of the box, clearly marked, "Handle with Care". Below is the inside of the box. Resting on top of the treasure chest of a box were two
ice packs, still cold. The treasure chest as I describe it, is actually a best selling item at Taylor Shellfish called an Oyster Gift Box 1. My Oyster Gift Box 1 contained two dozen oysters. Six each of the Virginicas, Pacifics, Kumamotos & Olympias.
You'll notice in the picture to the left that the Gift Box also contained an oyster shucking knife. It was fun to try a different knife and add to my knife collection. The Box also came with a descriptive oyster profile paper complete with text and photos, a link to a website for help with pairing oysters with wine, and a guide to shucking oysters. The two dozen oysters made a great appetizer for two of us. My wife is new to shucking oysters and she was able to follow the directions provided and shuck her own oysters. It will be nice to have another shucker around!! The only thing she needed that was not provided was a glove. Fortunately, I have plenty of extra gloves. While gloves are not mandatory, they might come in handy if you are new to shucking but you can always use a towel.
Here are few more pictures of the oysters.
To the left, the four different oysters. Below, notice the liquor still on the oyster and the little I spilled setting up my photo. I was pleasantly surprised with the large amount of liquor
in each oyster, we really were able to taste the flavors of Puget Sound 3000 miles away!
If you've been on the fence about ordering live raw oysters, it time to get over it and order them. Just be sure to order them from a reputable oyster farm such as Taylor Shellfish! When you do, tell them that Josh at Go Shuck An Oyster sent you.
Do you know an oyster lover or osteaphile? The oyster box would make a great gift.
The Taylor Shellfish store can be reached online at www.taylorshellfishstore.com or by calling 360-432-3300. Place your order today and then get ready to Go Shuck An Oyster!
The volunteers formed into teams to start placing oysters into structures that were later placed on the bottom of Boston Harbor. Measurements were taken on several of the oysters and then the cages and equipment were handed off to divers who placed them below the low-tide line. Towards the end of the day, additional oysters were dropped from a boat in carefully identified areas.
Oysters filter and clean water. The hope of today's event is that the oysters will contribute to the cleaning of Boston Harbor. More information is available on the Mass Oyster Project blog and website. To contribute to the Mass Oyster Project click here or contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is a link to news coverage by the Boston Herald.
Here are few more pictures from today.
Here is a video that captured the day.
OCT. 22 - An unprecedented proposal to ban raw Gulf Coast oysters, developed unilaterally by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, will threaten thousands of jobs and crush a clean, sustainable fishery, according to food lovers, fishermen and community leaders.
On Saturday, Oct. 17 the FDA made a surprise announcement at a meeting of shellfish regulators and industry, telling them that the agency plans to ban the sale of live, in-the-shell Gulf Coast oysters for as much as 8 months every year. The proposed ban was developed without public input and FDA officials admit they have not analyzed the economic impact. Officials have also suggested that new restrictions may be in the works for West Coast and East Coast shellfish.
“This would cost us thousands of jobs and tens of millions of dollars if we were unable to sell our
oysters as we do today. The new FDA direction makes no sense – Louisiana is still struggling to recover from Hurricane Katrina,” said Al Sunseri of P & J Oyster Co. in New Orleans.
FDA officials suggested that consumers of live half-shell oysters will willingly switch to frozen or
processed versions of the traditional Gulf Coast food, but that’s absurd, according to restaurant owner Chris Hastings.
“I’m not buying a frozen or pasteurized oyster,” says Hastings, owner of the Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, Alabama, a nationally recognized restaurant specializing in fresh, regional food. Hastings says FDA’s belief that consumers will simply switch to processed oysters is like claiming that people don’t appreciate the difference between fresh strawberries and frozen ones.
“It’s just such a false statement,” Hastings says of the suggestion that processed oysters can replace fresh ones. “And it’s a false assumption that the Gulf oyster business can survive with such harsh new regulations,” he adds.
Shellfish growers in other regions are worried that the Gulf Oyster ban could set the stage for
oppressive rules all around the country.
“A requirement to process oysters flies in the face of the resurgence of raw oyster bars across the
country, and the growing natural “slow” foods movement,” says Robin Downey, executive director of the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association. “Growers are proud of the high quality, wholesome, fresh shellfish they provide to their customers. Taking the choice to eat raw oysters away from them is preposterous.”
The East Coast shellfish community expressed concern, too. Bob Rheault, executive director of the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association, says it’s clear that regulation of his region is likely not far behind. "I am concerned that the FDA had chosen to disregard decades of cooperation between state managers and the FDA,” Rheault says. “FDA openly acknowledges that even this
economically crippling regulation will not eliminate the problem. So one has to ask "What's next?"
On the Gulf Coast, oysters are the economic cornerstone for many small towns, employing thousands of individual oyster fishers and plant workers and suppling a network of oyster bars and restaurants throughout the region. Shutting down for 8 months would be a disaster, says Leo "Chipper" McDermott, mayor of Pass Christian, Mississippi. The oyster industry “is vital to the Gulf Coast area,” he says, adding that a ban “will have a devastating effect” on the coastal economy. “I wish they would come down here and look at the real economic impact,” McDermott says of FDA officials.
With unemployment already near 10 percent nationally, the proposed ban has many baffled and angry.
“This could be the end of our way of life,” says Tommy Ward of Buddy Ward and Sons Seafood in
Apalachicola, Florida. “It would bankrupt our town,” adds Anita Grove, director of the Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce.
FDA officials say the Gulf oyster ban is necessary to protect public health because a naturally occurring bacteria sickens about 30 people each year. The bacteria, Vibrio vulnificus, can be deadly for people with pre-existing medical conditions, such as liver damage caused by chronic alcohol abuse. But virtually none of the Vibrio vulnificus cases on record have hurt healthy people, and many questioned why the FDA is singling out one small industry when others do so much more harm.
According to the FDA there are an estimated 76 million cases of foodborne illness annually, resulting in 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths. But the Vibrio vulnificus bacteria that the oyster ban is supposed to address is responsible for only 1/10 of 1 percent of food-related deaths (about 15 per year are traced to Gulf Coast states) and an even smaller percentage of illness, according to CDC estimates. In other words, 99.9 percent of illnesses occur in other foods, but FDA wants to ban raw oysters. The Vibrio bacteria exist in salt
waters around the world. Shellfish lovers say they know traditional raw oysters aren’t for everyone. Some people turn up their noses at the very thought, just like some people choose not to eat meat, wild mushrooms, sushi, raw eggs or chicken. But fishermen and restaurant owners ask, if the FDA can ban raw oysters, what’s next? A ban on raw clams? Peanuts? Fresh fruit and vegetables?
Under pressure from shellfish regulators, harvesters, and dealers, the FDA has tentatively agreed to examine the economic impact of the proposed ban, and has also agreed to a collaborative meeting in the summer of 2010 to focus on the proposed Gulf oyster ban, which would take effect in the spring of 2011.
“The FDA proposal is scientifically and legally flawed,” says Kevin Begos, executive director of the Franklin County Oyster & Seafood Task Force. “There is no such thing as zero-risk in life, and people have the right to eat a simple, natural food that humans have enjoyed for thousands of years.”
The shellfish community had been working with FDA and state regulators on improved refrigeration and harvest controls, and Begos said the community will continue such efforts. FDA officials admit their unilateral action may be unprecedented for the agency.
Begos noted that tax dollars are paying for the misguided FDA crusade, and that public health rules are supposed to target the biggest problems, not the smallest ones. “With a federal deficit of over 9 trillion dollars, does it make sense to go after the industry that causes 1/10 of a percent of all food illnesses, or focus on the 99.9 percent of the problem?” Begos asked.
For more information on the shellfish community, contact the following:
Franklin County Oyster & Seafood Task Force
Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association
Olympia, WA 98501
Thomas J. Kehoe
K&B Seafood, Inc.
East Northport, New York 11731
East Coast Shellfish Growers Association
Wakefield, RI 02879
Franklin County Seafood Workers Association
Gulf Oyster Industry Council Board Member
P & J Oyster Company, Inc.
New Orleans, LA 70112
Lynnhaven Shellfish Company and Bubba's Seafood Festival, VA
- Wellfleet Oyster Fest, Cape Cod, MA
The ninth annual Wellfleet OysterFest takes place the weekend after Columbus Day, Saturday and Sunday, October 17 and 18, 2009, in Wellfleet, Cape Cod, Mass. This two-day street party celebrates the town's famous oysters, clams and shellfishing traditions and brings together locals and visitors alike for a weekend full of hometown flavor and big time fun.
The town center becomes a walking district that offers something for everyone: local cuisine, arts and crafts, children's activities, educational exhibits, live music and the Oyster Shuck-Off competition. Satellite events away from the crowds, and many with the beautiful harbor as a backdrop, showcase all that our village has to offer: beachcombing and bird walks, a 5K road race and children's fun run, cooking demonstrations, tasting seminars, book talks, and oyster grant tours.
Families have a FREE children’s area to explore with a moonbounce, pumpkin decorating, face painting, oyster jewelry making, a steel drum workshop, sing-a-longs and more. Over 90 regional artisans will sell their crafts. Live music on the Main Stage will feature many local and regional bands.
Oysters—Marine mollusks having a rough irregular shell found on the sea bed, mostly in coastal water. The coastal waters of Brunswick County produce an abundance of oysters. Each year, over 45,000 people, including locals and visitors, attend the North Carolina Oyster Festival to pay homage to the mighty mollusk. 2009 will mark the 29th anniversary of the festival, which will be hosted by the Brunswick County Chamber of Commerce on October 17-18, 2009.
- St. Mary's County, MD
For a complete listing of upcoming oyster festivals, visit www.goshuckanoyster.com/Events.html
LEWES, Del. — The Delaware Bay Oyster Restoration Project, an ongoing effort to revitalize Eastern oysters in Delaware Bay, was honored with a 2008 Coastal America Partnership Award on October 4 during a bayside ceremony held at the University of Delaware’s Coast Day festival in Lewes, Delaware. The Coastal America Partnership Award is the only environmental award of its kind given by the White House.
Virginia Tippie, director of Coastal America, together with Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Policy and Legislation), Terrence Salt, presented plaques, certificates, and congratulatory letters from President Barack Obama to representatives from each of the Delaware Bay Oyster Restoration Task Force’s 12 member-organizations.
“It has been deeply gratifying for us to play a role in bringing back Delaware Bay’s oysters,” said Lt. Col. Thomas Tickner, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Philadelphia District, which manages the project for the federal government. “No fewer than 12 agencies, public and private, joined forces in common cause and have seen tangible success as a direct result of their efforts.”
Coastal America’s Partnership Award recognizes the collaborative, multi-agency effort that was needed to leverage and combine enough resources to successfully restore, preserve and protect Delaware Bay’s population of Eastern oysters. It furthermore recognizes the value of the task force’s outreach efforts, an example of which could be seen at Coast Day in the form of an exhibition booth hosted by the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, complete with freshly roasted Delaware Bay oysters available for free to thousands of festival goers.
“New Jersey is proud to be a partner in the Delaware Bay Oyster Restoration Project and a co-sponsor with the State of Delaware. Our region will continue to yield significant environmental and economic benefits from this innovative project,” said Mark N. Mauriello, acting commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. “We also recognize that this celebration of success was made possible through the solid support we received from Governors Jon Corzine and Jack Markell, congressional members in New Jersey and Delaware, and our colleagues in the State of Delaware as well as those in academia, government agencies and non-government organizations.”
Since 2005, the Delaware Bay Oyster Restoration Task Force has strategically placed, or “planted,” over 2.1 million bushels of clam and oyster shells onto historic reefs in Delaware Bay thanks to $5 million provided by Congress and administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It has done so to achieve two objectives: to enhance survival by providing clean shell to which juvenile oysters can attach and grow, and to maintain the ecology of the bay by sustaining oyster reefs that would otherwise degrade over time due to natural processes.
“The Delaware Bay is a recreational treasure and an economic engine for our region,” said Collin P. O’Mara, secretary of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. “The Delaware Bay Oyster Restoration Project supports both the ecological restoration of our native oyster and the revitalization of our commercial oyster industry. The project’s outstanding success reflects the close cooperation between New Jersey, Delaware and all partners and the dedicated commitment to improving the health and sustainability of the Delaware Bay.”
This program has successfully stabilized the oyster beds of Delaware Bay. In fact, 2007 was the first year since 1999 that the oyster-shell resource has been in equilibrium or increased. More importantly, there has been a substantial increase in the survival of juvenile oysters. The projected harvest quota for oysters reared in 2008 is now the third-highest since the mid-1980s, and the estimated impact of the 2007 fiscal-year program alone is $90 million — equating to more than $40 for every federal dollar invested.
This award adds to a growing list of accolades for the bi-state project; a list that also includes a gold medal from the Federal Executive Board in May and a 2008 Government Award from the Water Resources Association of the Delaware River Basin in April of last year. Nevertheless, the Delaware Bay Oyster Restoration Project recently exhausted the last of its federal funding on September 30. Task force leaders are currently pursuing every lead available to them in an effort to raise new funds for continued shell planting.
Due to a decrease in funding, this year’s planting effort was the leanest to date at approximately 212,000 bushels, down from a peak of more than 681,000 bushels in 2007. Less shell planted in Delaware Bay means less habitat where juvenile oysters can grow.
“The shell-planting program has brought the bay back from the lowest abundance of oysters in 2004 observed since the early 1950s to a level capable of sustaining an important fishery and providing the ecological benefits obtained from healthy oyster habitat, but cessation of funding will rapidly rob the momentum we have gained,” said Dr. Eric Powell, director of Rutgers University’s Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory, which sits beside the bay in Bivalve, New Jersey. “Continuation of the program is critical for maintaining the long-term health of Delaware Bay.”
Members of the Delaware Bay Oyster Restoration Task Force include the:
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Philadelphia District
- New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
- Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control
- Rutgers University’s Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory
- Delaware River Basin Commission
- Partnership for the Delaware Estuary
- Delaware State University’s College of Agriculture and Related Sciences
- Delaware River and Bay Authority
- Cumberland Empowerment Zone Corporation
- Delaware Bay Section of the Shell Fisheries Council
- Delaware Shellfish Advisory Council
- Commercial Township, New Jersey
Additional Photographs: http://www.flickr.com/photos/delawareestuary/sets/72157622396820111