Oysters have always fascinated me. As a kid growing up in Baltimore, my grandparents had a dedicated oyster room in their house where the “grownups” would gather on special occasions to drink cocktails and eat oysters from the Chesapeake Bay. Years later, my then college age daughter worked on an oyster farm in Duxbury, MA. We ate a lot of oysters that summer and learned all about how they are farmed and about the people who grow them.
Advances in aquaculture and marine biology, as well as improved cultivation techniques have helped establish oyster farming as a significant cash crop in Massachusetts and other coastal parts of the country. Oyster bars and restaurants have been proliferating up and down the east and west coasts, and oysters are enjoying a renaissance in popularity not seen since the early 1900’s.
I do find a certain irony in this resurgent popularity of oysters. While most aficionados can describe in detail the provenance, names and the nuanced tastes of the oysters they eat, they have no idea about the people who grow them.
Oyster farmers are independent, hard working and interesting people. I really enjoyed getting to know so many of them while working on this project.