ICO http://islandcreekoysters.com/ico Buy Online & Discover Duxbury Farm Raised Fresh Island Creek Oysters Wed, 21 Jan 2015 17:41:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Some Oysters Have A Story http://islandcreekoysters.com/ico/some-oysters-have-a-story/ http://islandcreekoysters.com/ico/some-oysters-have-a-story/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 17:41:56 +0000 http://islandcreekoysters.com/ico/?p=2320 Hey, guess what? That oyster you’re about to eat had a cooler Tuesday than you did. No offense.

A week ago, I had the privilege of visiting the First Encounter Oyster farm in Eastham. Lows were hovering at a willful 19 degrees, with winds anticipated to reach somewhere in the 60-knot range. A dream of a day, really. I wore two pairs of socks.

First Encounters are grown along the inner bicep of Cape Cod, where the nutrient-rich, glacial melt of the Arctic catches and swirls, creating a sanctuary for growing oysters (Wellfleet directly borders in the North).  Summers cloak the beach with a blanket of tourists who hog all of the good parking spots in the lot, causing oyster farmers John, Bill and Peter to circle in their pickup until a free one opens up. The crew drags their hand-made gear and oyster cages past the curious eyes of said tourists sautéing on the sand; their flat-bottomed boat skips like a smooth stone across the bay at low tide. Cape summers are classic, blue-blooded beauties on the First Encounter farm, but the winter invites a more wild landscape.

On the particular day of my visit in mid-January, the entire beach was a jigsaw of ice and snow making it impossible to access their grant, which is located over 900 yards off shore. To access their grant on more balmy days, they drive ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles) through hand-dug pathways in the snow. THEY HARVEST OYSTERS ON ATVs. Sorry, just had to get that point across.

Eastham and other towns along the Cape constantly change in the wintertime. The persistent scrape of wind and water continuously alters the geography, texture, and energy of the land. Each vista is unique. While we also feel the ache of winter in Duxbury, the sandbar beach in its gracious sweep across the mouth of the bay, shelters us from many of the season’s woes that growers elsewhere experience.

When I first worked for Island Creek on Skip’s farm crew, it blew my mind that there were so many small steps that go on behind the scenes of farming an oyster. I remember spending entire days sitting in a field, sniping at spools of bungee cord (used on racks and floating bags) and painting buoys neon hues until the fumes made my head hurt; Things completely outside my original definition of farming, but also completely necessary to the sole product…Much like gassing up an ATV, I suppose.

The next time you pick up an oyster, may it be First Encounter or otherwise, ask yourself how exactly it got to your table, what challenges the grower may have had to endure to get it there. The answers range from typical to stunningly odd. Grown on a swath of ice, or an estuary in Virginia? Transported by a full-time firefighter who moonlights as an oyster farmer, or a local on an ATV? Who knows. Every oyster has a story.

★ Michelle Wong is the newest and shortest member of the ICO sales team. Her Netflix backlog includes the X-Files and Friends. ★

 

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Ever wonder what oysters do all winter? http://islandcreekoysters.com/ico/ever-wonder-what-oysters-do-all-winter/ http://islandcreekoysters.com/ico/ever-wonder-what-oysters-do-all-winter/#comments Wed, 07 Jan 2015 20:27:17 +0000 http://islandcreekoysters.com/ico/?p=2314 As most things in the natural world, oysters endure rather than enjoy the winter. Oysters spend the spring, summer and fall happily filtering cool, salty bay-water, extracting nutrients from plankton, and growing the meat inside their shell. As the bay cools in November oysters begin to ready themselves for the coldest three months of the year. As winter approaches, filtering and growth slows down. When the temperature of the bay drops below 45 degrees all physiology stops and the oyster fades to dormancy.

Effectively asleep from late November through Mid-March, this winter respite is a good thing for the oyster eater. Oysters spend the winter living on glycogen they produced and stored all fall. The glycogen, stored in the oyster’s liver, is often thought to provide a “sweeter” taste in the winter months. In addition to being a bit sweeter on the tongue, oysters are at their plumpest through December (having filtered and fed as much as possible in the autumn but not yet depleted of their glycogen store).

In Darwinian fashion, only strong healthy oysters are expected to make it through their first winter. Small, weak 8 month old oysters often can’t survive the winter climate. Ravaged by sub freezing temperatures and whipped by wind, it takes a hearty piece of shellfish to make it to March.

Oyster farmers do everything they can to ready oysters for the winter. They promote growth and health by; growing oyster seed as early as possible, deploying mature seed to grow-out operations as quickly as possible and spending many summer low tides washing fouling off bags as much as possible. Still, when the young seed is finally being spread on the bay bottom in late fall there is a faint sound of rolling dice.

It’s not uncommon for an oysterman to go back to his farm in early March and find small empty shells or bare spots that were once covered by juvenile oysters. He might also observe hedge rows of small oysters blown astray by northeast storms. The hedge rows can be taken care of by methodically raking the heaps of young oysters into bare areas but the empty shell is considered a total loss.

Farmers oftentimes change harvesting methods in the winter. A heavy long-toothed dredge pulled across an oyster bed inevitably leaves behind chipped shells that the oyster can easily repair in the warm months but are fatal wounds in the winter. Some farmers choose to drag heavily through the fall and do the extra work of laying away bags of full grown oysters. They design well thought out wire rack holding systems or buoyed long lines of bags which become convenient winter caches.

The longer days and warmer sun that begin in March coerce the oyster from its sleep. It will soon begin filtering water and growing. Until then oysters quietly sit on the bay bottom, waiting to be harvested and sold to raw bars and restaurants across the country.

 

★ Peter Ciccarelli ★

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Life on the Bay in December http://islandcreekoysters.com/ico/life-on-the-bay-in-december/ http://islandcreekoysters.com/ico/life-on-the-bay-in-december/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 18:10:11 +0000 http://islandcreekoysters.com/ico/?p=2306 It’s not hard to tell when December casts its wintry pall across the bay. Daylight hours are cut in half and skim ice forms on the marsh and tidal inlets.  Where have the days of 5 o’clock dawn and eight o’clock twilight gone? I guess to the other side of the globe. The girls in bikinis are gone too, replaced by rough looking oystermen sporting beards and extra layers of clothes. Working on the skiffs and floats (offices we are grateful for in the summer) is colder and a bit more difficult. The decision to “wait ‘til things warm up” is often followed by an extra cup of coffee or an hour sitting idle until Mother Nature decides she is ready to work.

When the workday begins gear, ropes and boat decks are frozen. The ordinary task of transferring oneself from dinghy to skiff can be fraught with danger. One careless slip sends you into 45 degree water. The outboard engine is slow to turn over and has just as much trouble warming up as the rest of us. If the dredge has been thoughtlessly left out overnight, the netting and cordage will be frozen into a mass that must be thawed with salt water and chipped off the deck.  Working in extra layers of clothes is a necessity and a challenge. You must train yourself not to sweat, working steadily rather than in hurried spurts.  Breaking a hard sweat means damp clothes that freeze quickly, leading to a long, cold day. I often find myself shedding my hat and my wind jacket as I heat up. If I start to feel a chill I put gear back on. This can be a constant process; heating up, shedding a layer, cooling down, putting a layer back on.

In the winter months oystermen really pay attention to the weather. Demand for oysters is high, promises have been made to restaurant kitchens across the country, and the oyster farmer is expected to deliver.  A hard gale or temperatures below 28 degrees keeps us off the water, unable to harvest. Oysters don’t react well to sub freezing weather, abductor muscles snap and the shellfish dies.  There are days when we might get a two hour window, the sun high enough in the sky to warm things, to drag the necessary product from the bay floor and get back to the cover of the oyster float. Our best friends become space heaters and boot driers.

The day ends abruptly. Lights on shore begin to twinkle at just after 4 o’clock, houses lit by Christmas decorations. As I ferry into the anchorage I smell wood smoke that wafts from the stovepipe of the harbormaster’s shack. I dodge winter sticks attached to sunken moorings, a reminder of the hundreds of boats that float here in the summer. I tie up close to land, bunched with the other ten or so boats that comprise the oyster fleet, and carefully lower myself back to the dinghy. As I begin the short row back to land I dream of a sauna or a steam room.

★ Peter Ciccarelli ★

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Summer Foraging Guide http://islandcreekoysters.com/ico/summer-foraging-guide/ http://islandcreekoysters.com/ico/summer-foraging-guide/#comments Tue, 19 Aug 2014 13:23:05 +0000 http://islandcreekoysters.com/ico/?p=2280 Sun’s out, air’s fresh, the water’s warm. The Summer accepts no excuses from those who sit inside and lament boredom. The Summer reserves no sympathy for those who decline the open invitation to partake in all of the magnificent festivities the season has to offer. A little lint ball of a town in the winter, Duxbury’s good side (#selfie) is summer. Though there are only a few beach days left this summer, let me introduce you to your favorite new hobby – Foraging. There is a bounty of interesting sea creatures to be gathered on New England’s ragged coastline. Here is a know-nothing’s guide to coastal foraging at any tide.

High Tide: Sea Beans
Skill level: Cabin Boy

A treat that any pram-handler can forage for! Sea beans are a type of succulent that grows in knobby, green bursts on salt marshes and beaches, making them accessible at high tide – no waders needed. They taste like salty asparagus and you can eat them raw. But the best part about sea beans? They fix, or take in, carbon dioxide from the atmosphere more efficiently than other plants. Cool science.

Mid Tide: Chondrus Crispus
Skill level: First Mate

This lacy, edible seaweed is only in season during the warm summer months. As water temperatures rise throughout the season, the cream and brown colored algae darkens in hue, becoming gorgeous shades of deep purple and green. It’s like chewy rubber that tastes exactly how you imagine it would, plus a hefty hit of salt on your tongue. Steam with bluefish and soy sauce…sprinkle on top of a salad.

Low Tide: Periwinkles
Skill level: Ship’s Captain

Periwinkles – the escargot of the sea. Until recently, I wouldn’t have thought twice about harvesting periwinkles, let alone putting them anywhere near my face. But on a recent camping trip to Maine, I found myself quite hungry. Having not brought enough provisions on this weekend-long romp in the middle of nowhere, by the last night my food options were slim- half a handle of dark rum or wild periwinkles. I decided to save the rum and try my hand at foraging. We were camped on a small island ringed with large rocks slick with rockweed and encrusted with thousands of marble-sized periwinkles, only exposed at low tide. As the tide inched out, I crawled over the damp, glistening rocks, sweeping my hand underneath and in between the dark gaps, uprooting the little snails and placing them in the pot I would cook them in. Next, I steamed them in an inch of seawater for just a few minutes, much like lobsters and clams. To remove the meat, you just need a toothpick or pairing knife to pluck the steamed creature from its shell. And believe it or not, they taste pretty good. I was even able to get my hoard of drunken friends to enjoy them with me.  All I had with me to dress my dinner up was a greasy bottle of Cholula Hot Sauce. But I can only imagine how awesome they would be sautéed butter with white wine and garlic. Periwinkles might seem beneath us, peasant food. But perhaps what makes eating them so rewarding, is that they make themselves available only to those who beg, get down in the mud and salt, and dig. I think we can all learn a little something from that, wouldn’t you say?

 

★ Michelle Wong is the newest and shortest member of the ICO sales team. She enjoys spending time on Nantucket and playing flip cup with wine. ★

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Anne Goes to the Farm http://islandcreekoysters.com/ico/anne-goes-to-the-farm/ http://islandcreekoysters.com/ico/anne-goes-to-the-farm/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 16:07:45 +0000 http://islandcreekoysters.com/ico/?p=2274 I’ve worked at Island Creek for about 2 years now.  When people ask me what I do for a living I say “I work for an oyster farm!”  People sort of give me the “up down” and are probably thinking “You work for an oyster farm? What does that even mean?” I then always follow up with “Well, I work in the office” and people nod their head as though they are thinking “Yeah, that makes a lot more sense…”

I helped out on the farm for the first two weeks I worked here grading seed on the docks.  Everyone does – part of the training at ICO – which is pretty cool. I’ve only hit the tide once last year during a cold February day, so when Skip mentioned he would love to have some “Office Folk” helping out with the drainer this week, I was thrilled!  Sign me up!  I wouldn’t say writing is my “forte” but I had a lot of thoughts out on the lease so here goes…

We all met at the office at 6am.  Low tide was at 7:40. There weren’t enough waders for everyone, so I jumped in with shorts and my old running sneaks. I felt like one tough cookie! There was about a foot and a half of water, so I grabbed my gloves.  Everyone started putting their hands in and reaching into the “deep abyss” so I did too, of course! Mark, who helps manage the farm, recently found a sand tiger shark in the same area of the bay, which everyone was joking around about, but that didn’t faze Shellfish Anne one bit! I had my bucket and was ready to start pickin’ oysters right off the bottom of Duxbury Bay!

Now, I would say I’m a pretty tough gal (not sure if my boyfriend would agree…) but there are very few things in life that make me squeal like a girl. One of those things being foul balls at baseball games.  Anyway, I kept feeling around at the bottom, and didn’t really find any oysters.  Am I doing this wrong?  This is hard. I continued to feel around the mud and found one!  Gotcha. Clunk.  Into the bucket.  I kept reaching in and all of a sudden something started moving.  I yelped!  Everyone in my “area” of the lease looked over at me.  “Ever seen a crab before, Anne?” Forget sharks! I was now officially squeamish every time I put my hand in. How can you tell which one is a crab and which one is an oyster? I continued to grab and continued to pull out (and then hysterically throw) crawling  (and biting…) crabs.  How can you tell which one’s which? Am I the only one only grabbing crabs and not getting any oysters in my bucket? You would think after the 5th spider crab I would have figured it out. If a dog bites you, you probably don’t pet that dog anymore but I couldn’t see a thing!

I finally started to realize “Oh! The tide is still going out.”  If I wait around a little while, I’ll be able to see more on the mud!  No more crab vs oyster mix-ups for Anne!  So I started wandering out on the mud flats looking for distinct oysters.  A lot of them had seaweed attached to the shells, so that was my new safe sign. The initial “kick the mud and see what moves” method also worked well.  Run away crab! The tide started to go out more and more and I could see tons of oysters on the flats!  Most people (about 15 of us total out there) were crouched in one spot and kept throwing oysters in their buckets.  How do you find so many in one spot?? I was the wanderer but was hoping I would find a cluster soon so I could really add some value to the team….

As the tide went out more, there were more oysters to pick but I came across something even worse.  There was now about 3-4 inches of seawater that we were trudging through.  All of a sudden I saw a horseshoe crab.  If you don’t know what that is: see below.  Also, words of wisdom: start utilizing your shuffle dance move at the beach from now on.  They are these crazy lookin’ things with a big barb on the back.  If you step on one, I assume they fling the barb into your foot or leg.  Just a guess.  Anyway, all of a sudden I see one floating along next to my new-found cluster.  Well, back to wandering….thanks horseshoe crab.

Luckily, as the tide kept going out, the horseshoe crabs went with it and all the spider crabs were pretty much visible!  I was in the clear.  I filled a few (as in 2) buckets and felt like I was a part of the team.  It was such a beautiful morning with a nice breeze coming over the water.  It was really cool to be out there.  I usually see the final product at raw bars, and hang out with the farm crew during their lunch break in the office, but to be out with the crew on a huge drainer tide and pick the oysters right off the mud flats on a summer morning in Duxbury Bay was pretty sweet.  I definitely didn’t pick the most oysters out there, but hey, I had a great time and I hope I get invited back to the farm in the near future! We’ll see…

 

★ Annie McNamara holds everything together at ICO. She is know as the nicest person in the office, but she can be a little selfish at times. ★

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Movin On Out http://islandcreekoysters.com/ico/movin-on-out/ http://islandcreekoysters.com/ico/movin-on-out/#comments Fri, 27 Jun 2014 15:26:52 +0000 http://islandcreekoysters.com/ico/?p=2267 Duxbury Bay has been pretty cold this spring, which has delayed our ability to put the oyster babies out in the water. In the hatchery, the oyster larvae are grown in water that is heated to 78 degrees. Once they are big enough, they can tolerate colder water. Then when the bay temperature reaches the mid-50’s, the big oysters can move outside into our downweller system. This system pulls bay water directly into a tank out on our deck, cycles through the screens, and back out to the bay. The oysters are constantly feeding on algae that are natural to Duxbury Bay, so they can eat all they want!

For the past month or so, we’ve been sending out all our oysters that are 1 millimeter in size. The smaller ones remain in the hatchery until they have grown big enough. Within the past couple weeks; the temperature has increased to the mid-60’s, so we can put out even smaller oysters, about half a millimeter, as they will continue to grow in the warm water.

The oyster seed will grow in the downweller for a week or so until they reach 1.5 millimeters. At this stage in their life, they move into the flupsys, or upwellers, under the dock. This system is the same idea as the downweller except the water flows in the opposite direction, up, giving the oysters better flow. As the bay gets warmer and warmer throughout the summer, the oysters spend less time in the hatchery because they can tolerate the warm and unfiltered bay water. It is important for us to grade the oysters frequently, just like we grade the larvae in the hatchery. In other words, we stack up some sieves and rinse down the seed to figure out who is what size. That way, we can then separate the “macho oysters” from the slower-growing oysters. We will continue this process for the rest of the hatchery season until all of our oysters are all grown up!

Our seed is growing strong and fast, due to the big tides that flow in and out of Duxbury Bay twice a day. The new water brought in with the tide is always full of rich nutrients and thousands of species of algae. The more algae available to them, the more they eat, the faster they grow, and the sooner they end up on your plate! The oysters are living large eating up all the food and soaking in the warm water!

 

★ Hannah Pearson is the lead Hatchery Technician at Island Creek. She hates gluten. ★

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Mommy, Where Do Babies Come From? http://islandcreekoysters.com/ico/mommy-where-do-babies-come-from/ http://islandcreekoysters.com/ico/mommy-where-do-babies-come-from/#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 14:54:11 +0000 http://islandcreekoysters.com/ico/?p=2257 We’ve been busy in the hatchery during the past few weeks growing and caring for some 14-day old oyster larvae. But first, let me back track and tell the story of how it all begins…

The act of spawning is simple…yet complicated. The idea of reproducing oysters merely consists of mixing some eggs and sperm together; however getting them to do it is the tricky part. In nature, when the water reaches a warm temperature, oysters let go their eggs and sperm into the water and the magic happens on its own. In a lab setting we mimic this exact process, called thermal spawning. After conditioning the oysters for about 4 weeks with heavy algae, the gonads are plump and ripe, ready for spawning. We place the oysters in a shallow tank of warm salt water (about 85° F) which begins to “set the mood” for our handsome devils. We feed them some algae, dim the lights, and put on some Barry Manilow. The waiting process can take some time, but oysters are able to sense when the others are spawning so once one goes the others aren’t far behind. Once spawning occurs, its important to separate males and females in order to avoid polyspermy. Polyspermy is when more than one sperm attack an egg and that egg becomes deformed. In our hatchery we then separate the individuals by sex into dishes where they can continue to spawn. So how can you tell males from females? Looking at oysters you cannot tell the sex but once they begin to spawn the difference is immediate.

In the photo above, the top left is a male clam releasing a milky white stream of sperm. Eggs and sperm look the same for both clams and oysters! There is a female on the bottom left puffing out clouds of tiny microscopic white balls, which are the eggs. Once the oysters are spent and have spawned out, we collect all of the eggs in buckets and use the sperm to fertilize them properly, avoiding polyspermy. We then can count how many eggs the oysters produced by simply counting how many are in 1 milliliter and do some math from there.

These eggs are so tiny they cannot be seen individually to the naked human eye, but all together they look like a pile of pink-colored fine sand. Under a microscope you can actually see each oyster and see right through their shells to their digestive system. In the photo above on the right, 2-day old oysters are seen under the microscope, and they are entering a stage called “D-stage” as their bodies form little D’s with a straight edge on the backs of their shells. These larvae will soon transition to become “young adults” within the next week or so!

 

★ Hannah Pearson runs our hatchery. She is from a small island on the East Coast of North America known as Rhode Island. She owns a lot of NCAA apparel from various schools. ★

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Farming: The Real Deal http://islandcreekoysters.com/ico/farming-the-real-deal/ http://islandcreekoysters.com/ico/farming-the-real-deal/#comments Wed, 02 Apr 2014 15:17:18 +0000 http://islandcreekoysters.com/ico/?p=2251 It is easy to forget that the planet we live on is as much alive as we are. Things move and circulate and breathe and die and feed in ancient and unprompted ways. In the age of digital tweets and star gazing apps, we lose that inborn ability to participate in the epic and natural rhythms of life. The part of us that tells us to eat more meat in the colder months, the part of us that can predict the coming of a storm as air pressure drops over the bay. We cannot connect. Things feel disjointed.

These days we need reminders that the earth is not static, it is alive. The seasons are not determined by what Hallmark cards are on display. Local soils are not as dynamic and malleable as the colorful bins of exotic produce in grocery stores suggest.  No wonder why we are so disconnected.

This brings me to, oyster farming (you knew where I was headed with this one, didn’t you?).  The winter has been so long and cold – longer and colder than most –that it has extended the period of time where oysters are not growing.  Normally, things start to warm up a bit in Duxbury this time of year. The birds chirp, and the water temperature rises to level that wakes the oysters from their winter hibernation, allowing them to plump up and heal their chips . That just isn’t happening right now, and it is frustrating for everyone involved – farm to table.

This is where both the beauty and difficulty of working with a small farm lies. Everyone these days wants to work directly with Farmer Joe because there is real environmental and social value in doing so. When you work directly with a small farm you have fresher product, more transparency and accountability, better customer service, and hotter sales girls (ahem). You also are supporting local economies and in the case of Island Creek, supporting one of the most sustainable products out there.  But this also means that you are more directly affected by what happens on that small farm – natural disasters, a broken leg, a long winter.

It might seem incredulous that in 2014, we cannot control output with factory-like precision. But this is REAL farming.  Not the synthetic, seasonless magic of Monsanto seeds and Tyson Chicken wings. On the farm, we are as strategic and responsible as possible, but are ultimately vulnerable to factors that we cannot ever possibly control.  Like the pastoral generations of farmers before us, our sustenance and livelihood are at the mercy of nature. We must respect the process, however frustrating, and know that warmer days are ahead.

 

★ Michelle Wong is the newest member of the ICO sales team. She worked on the farm for many years before returning to ICO after she finished college. ★

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ICO NYC vs. “The Fuzz” http://islandcreekoysters.com/ico/ico-nyc-vs-the-fuzz/ http://islandcreekoysters.com/ico/ico-nyc-vs-the-fuzz/#comments Fri, 21 Mar 2014 16:08:51 +0000 http://islandcreekoysters.com/ico/?p=2195 I have a binary relationship with the police.

On the one-hand, my brother-in-law is a good cop, a great one actually. He’s the police chief in Lunenburg, MA and he rocks a solid Tom Selleck mustache that has proved to be a beacon of the law.

Timeless.

Then there was the police chief in Harvard where I grew up – Officer Newman. I’m sure he’s a riot when he’s on a fishing trip or at a BBQ, but the dude made being a troublemaker a lot harder than I would have liked. He used to pull up next to my car and say:

“1992 White Volkswagon Cabriolet – last name Grady. It’s only a matter of time, kid”.

This inspired a direct effort to park my car at upstanding places like church parking lots or bake sales and then walk off to do whatever I shouldn’t be, just to bother him.

But the NYPD is a whole other kettle of fish. First of all, they’re literally everywhere – which I respect and understand. There are good cops who are required to bomb check, search, and loose trained dogs on our van – all sorts of activities that make me grateful the bags we carry only have oysters in the them. I don’t mind it, or take any strong position about it – they’re serving and protecting as promised and a little excitement in a long day is all good.

And then … there are the bad cops – known simply as “the Fuzz”.

“The Fuzz” does not want you to have your oysters.

“The Fuzz” will go out of their way to impede the long journey from our farm to your belly. “The Fuzz” dislikes our van and all we represent – fun, happiness, pleasure, and fresh air.

Exhibit A: On Saturday, Officer Fuzzworth was leaning against a building ripping on a cigarette while I idled at a light after just pulling away from a delivery – my window was down so could take in the marginally less freezing breeze and spread a little Dolly Parton love to the good people of Chelsea … when I heard him make fun of a homeless person -Seriously?  *Boos*

I must have made quite a face in reaction (I’m super subtle with the faces*  *not at all) because he looked over, saw I hadn’t fastened my seatbelt yet and pulled me over on foot while smoking a cigarette to give me a $138 dollar ticket – not 137 or 139. $138 seems a tad egregious for forgetting to buckle up the nano-second you leave a parking spot, but I guess for this guy the price was right.

I was telling this story to Tayler during our cozy 5am cooler chat, and he told me about Exhibit B: “The Fuzz” had exploded at him while delivering to the Dutch for, well – delivering to the Dutch. Just for existing and driving a van with a neat picture of a farmer on the side.  When I asked Tayler how he responded, reminding him that at Island Creek we pride ourselves on not getting riled up about these sorts of things (though I did cry once when I biker spit on my window), he said and I quote –

“Well I just said a civilian shouldn’t have to tell a police officer to calm down”  –

That’s our boy Tayler – making moves with peaceful protest.

So let’s think of it this way – every time we get our oysters past “the Fuzz” and to your table in the big city  – you’re rebelling a little bit against them, the “Man”, and other ineffectual bureaucracy that break up a good party.

And we like that.

NOTE: if you’re a NYPD officer who loves oysters – Truce. Also, we love you Chief Marino.

★ Hannah Grady runs the whirling gyre that is Island Creek’s Brooklyn shop.  She arrived on this island of misfit toys only recently, so please welcome her warmly and follow her on twitter:@grady_train ★

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Frankenfish http://islandcreekoysters.com/ico/frankenfish/ http://islandcreekoysters.com/ico/frankenfish/#comments Sat, 15 Mar 2014 14:38:45 +0000 http://islandcreekoysters.com/ico/?p=2219 Even though it kind of makes me want to throw up in my mouth a little bit, I would be lying to you if I said I wasn’t looking forward to eating a salmon hot dog. At least, that’s what I hear is something I can do this weekend.  That’s right, the Seafood Expo is coming to Boston this Sunday through Tuesday. Touted as being the “Largest Seafood Trade Show in North America”, the Seafood Expo hosts thousands of vendors from all over the world. Plebeians, chefs, and buyers come to rub elbows with experts in seafood marketing, processing, safety and sustainability. Talk about cerebral candy. As someone who not only works in the seafood industry but also has a personal interest in the topic, this event is one that I have been looking forward to for a while (I am or may not have weaseled myself a free ticket).

As a student at the University of New Hampshire, I studied EcoGastronomy – in human speak, that is the study of sustainable agriculture and food culture.  A huge part of the program consisted of staying up-to-date with current events in the food world; anything from droughts, to blights, to restaurant trends, veganism – you name it. Being the seafood freak that I am, one topic that has caught my eye over the past few months is the introduction of Genetically Modified fish into the global seafood market.

Genetically Modified fish have had their DNA altered to be faster growing, hardier, and less susceptible to changes in things such as temperature and water salinity. You can genetically modify anything nowadays – currently 90% of all corn and soy grown in the United States is genetically modified in some way. Ideally, these GMO fish are the perfect animal to farm for mass consumption. Supporters of this controversial topic believe that embracing the farming of GMO fish would feed more people at a lower economic and environmental cost. It would also alleviate pressure on depleted wild fish stocks; letting varieties that have nearly been hunted to extinction (ie. cod and wild salmon) to heal and thrive once again.  It really isn’t hard to see the benefits.

But, not everyone views Genetically Modified fish in such a positive light. Those who argue against the practice, call GMO fish “Franken Fish” – a disgusting creature assembled by godless scientists in lab coats. Other counter-arguments include genetic pollution in wild fish and health concerns in humans. Pick up the newspaper (or look online, gosh 2014)– I dare you not to find an article about controversial legislature on GMO policies.

I stand somewhere in the middle of the war zone that is the Great GMO Debate.

We still do not know all of the risks on human health and the environment that GMOs pose – this goes for GMO corn and soy too. WE, you and I, are the first generation, the guinea pigs of GMO testing. Yet, how else do we enable wild stocks to rebound if we are not willing to consume less, or find an alternative source of seafood?

Will the world become a place where the fishermen become fish farmers? I have no clue, and I am not saying that is how it should be. Just letting the ol’ mind wander. This is not a problem that rests solely on the shoulders of us New Englanders, but on the shoulders of the whole world.  If you eat fish, know a fisherman, or even think dolphins are super cute – you have a personal investment in the health of the oceans’ ecosystems. You are also responsible for finding a solution. And solutions are just the thing I hope to find at the Seafood Expo in Boston. That, and a salmon hot dog.

 

★ Michelle Wong is the newest member of the ICO sales team. She worked on the farm for many years before returning to ICO after she finished college. ★

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