Oyster Farming: Good For The Body And Environment

by Renee Mitson


When you bite into an oyster, do you think about the saltiness of the water it came from? Do you consider its farming method, seed, or shell shape? Because these are some of the countless elements that influence the shellfish's taste. A great oyster might be called buttery, briney, or just plain delicious. 
The one-of-a-kind flavor of the shellfish - most often enjoyed raw (just add cocktail or mignonette sauce) complements a zinc-heavy aphrodisiac with health benefits that include:
  • 16 grams of protein per 6-ounce serving
  • rich dose of vitamins C and B-12
  • loaded with important minerals including zinc, selenium, and iron
Some even claim that oysters can aid in healthy circulation, bone density and aid in lowering cholesterol. Z Living gives these heart-healthy molluscs two thumbs up for nutrition and flavor. But, while oysters improve our bodies, did you know they also help the earth and small, local economies?


Unlike the economic murkiness surrounding the salmon-farm industry, oyster farming has a relatively benign and often beneficial effect on its environment. In fact, different ecosystem services around the world encourage the farming of oysters, as the process stabilizes sediments, filters water, and creates healthier environments for other organisms. According to this piece by Industry Tap, one acre of an oyster salt pond - the shallow, warm, protected natural environments where oysters are cultivated, can produce nearly 750,000 mature oysters, which filter and purify 15-40 million gallons of water a day. Not bad for an ugly little mollusc.

Also On Z Living: How To Pair Your Wine With Your Seafood 


While oyster farming is a major international industry, it’s filled with many small, independent business owners running small eco-friendly operations. Not only do these independent oystermen and women create jobs and provide training to a local workforce, they also produce sizeable revenues in the small communities where they tend to operate along the eastern and western shores of the United States.

This popular entrepreneurial venture can also prove to be a lucrative, long-term investment for the hardworking farmers. Oysters take about four years to mature, after which point, the farmers can scour shores and bays for their bounty. Just a couple of years ago, a Yale graduate proved its value earning $200,000 in a year from farming oysters.


Whether you want to get in on the economic or the ecological side of oysters - or just indulge in them - supporting the oyster-farming industry is worthwhile. Want tips on which oysters to choose next time you're faced with a raw bar menu? Oysters are classified by where they are cultivated, so keep an eye out for varietals from destinations like Chesapeake Bay, New England, and Prince Edward Island. West coasters can do well in Northern California, Oregon, and British Columbia - these locales produce some of the best oyster varietals in the world.
Want to get your hands dirty in the mud? Play real-life Pokemon Go by scouring shorelines for fully-developed oysters on your next vacation, or keep it simple and order up a dozen on your next night out to help make the world a better place, one shuck at a time.

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