Whether you eat your oysters Rockefeller style or with a simple squeeze of lemon, it’s hard to deny that this modest mollusk has stayed a staple of seafood consumption throughout history. As consumers increasingly evaluate their food beyond how it tastes, though, many question the effect oysters have on the environment at large. If you’re a fan of these shelled creatures, don’t worry—oysters yield several benefits to the waters in which they grow and the people who eat them.
According to the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, oysters play no small part in filtering farms’ waterways. Not only do they remove excess nitrogen and carbon dioxide, but they also feast on algae and “repackage” unwanted inorganic sediments into harmless bits on the water floor. Thanks to the extensive efforts of these creatures—an adult can filter as much as 50 gallons a day—this also contributes to a cleaner environment for other aquatic life without affecting taste or nutrition.
Oysters still end up healthier in quality water, however, which puts the onus on farmers to ensure their waterways are in pristine condition. Furthermore, farmers are encouraged to monitor their oysters’ conditions and be proactive about preventing pollution-producing industries from gaining access to these ecosystems. That said, while oyster farming requires careful planning and due diligence, you might be surprised to learn the oysters themselves are neither needy nor greedy. Beyond some algae in the early stages of their lives, they require no feed; they don’t produce waste or greenhouse gases, either—removing harmful emissions from the equation.
Simply put, eating farmed oysters allows wild oysters the opportunity to replenish and recover from overfishing. According to the NOAA, overfishing and other man-made threats have devastated the natural population but are being combated by the rise of oyster farms and hatcheries. The more you turn to responsibly-raised oysters, the higher chance these powerful animals have of surviving in the wild.
The next time you reach for a cold one on the half-shell, you can feel at ease knowing these prized mollusks are making a difference. Though there are still steps to take, eating oysters promotes a cleaner environment and healthier populations for many marine creatures. Ready to try your hand at a dozen (or more) for an event or at-home party? Oysters XO can create a luxury catering experience for your next event. Contact us today to get started.