Episode 20: The Small but Mighty Oyster

Why does the oyster — amorphous, slimy, hidden in a shell that’s craggier and more unwieldy than that of a scallop or a clam — capture so many food-lovers’ hearts? What exactly is an oyster? Why are most of the oysters we eat farmed? And why, unlike other farmed seafood, are they considered such a benefit to their environment? In this episode, we head to the farm — the oyster farm — and talk to various experts to understand more about this beloved and very sustainable bivalve.

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“If you can combine the awesome reproductive power of shellfish with their awesome filtration power, that's where you can really transform an ecosystem.”

Christopher Gobler

Endowed chair of Coastal Ecology and Conservation, Stony Brook University

Episode Guests:

Rowan Jacobsen

Rowan is an author and journalist who writes about food, the environment and the intersection between the two. He is the author of many books, including three about oysters — most recently 2016’s “The Essential Oyster.”

Christopher Gobler

Christopher is a distinguished professor and the endowed chair of Coastal Ecology and Conservation at Stony Brook University, where he focuses on, among other things, coastal ecosystem ecology, climate change, harmful algal blooms and ocean acidification.

Terry Sawyer

Terry is a founding partner and vice president at Hog Island Oyster Co. in Tomales Bay, California.

Marlon McLaughlin

Marlon is a longtime employee at Hog Island, currently in charge of tours.

FoodPrint resources:

Additional resources:

Top photo courtesy of Jerusha Klemperer for FoodPrint.