I grew up near the sea, in South Carolina and southern France. For my entire life, when I’ve needed to recharge, I’ve sought out the salty air, the perpetual tides, and the bounty of the sea. It’s been medicine, nourishment, and inspiration for my life and work.
Oysters are such simple creatures. They begin life as tiny larvae that attach to hard surfaces. They grow their own shells to protect their delicate bodies. They filter their nutrients from the waters in which they live and grow, making their environment cleaner in the process. It’s a symbiosis that I find beguiling.
Eating a raw oyster is such a primitive act. We use sharp tools to pry open the sturdy shell of a living creature. We loosen its grip on the shell. We may splash on tangy, fresh lemon juice and a little hot sauce, and down the hatch it goes. Years of work and growth packaged in a delicious, briny bath. It’s hedonistic. It’s sexy. It’s a ritual that oyster lovers consider near-holy.
Oysters matter. They’re one of the few food sources that actually improve the environment in which they’re raised. Plummeting populations indicate waterways in dire need of recovery and preservation. And in building up oyster populations in vulnerable bodies of water, we’re becoming part of the solution.
Why oysters? Why not?