Q: Are oysters healthy to eat?
A: Oysters are not only delicious, but they are also one of the most nutritionally well balanced foods, containing protein, carbohydrates and lipids. Oysters are not only low in cholesterol, but rich in omega-3-fatty acids, which are well known to help combat heart disease. Oysters are an excellent source of vitamins A, B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), C (ascorbic acid) and D (calciferol). Four or five medium size oysters supply the recommended daily allowance of iron, copper, magnesium, calcium, zinc, manganese and phosphorus.
Q: Are oysters an aphrodisiac?
A: Although not scientifically proven, ever since Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, sprang forth from the sea on an oyster shell and gave birth to Eros, oysters have been regarded as an aphrodisiac. Who is to argue with the legendary Casanova who is reputed to have eaten 12 dozen oysters per day!
Q: Do your oysters make pearls?
A: Yes pacific oysters do occasionally make pearls. However, they are plain white in colour and of no commercial value.
Q: Why should you only eat oysters in months with an "R"?
A: This idea originated early in the 1900's when there was little refrigeration and no food safety programs - eating shellfish in the warmer months of the year wasn't a good idea. Thanks to modern testing, improved farming and processing methods, and government approved food safety programs, shellfish are now available 12 months of the year.
Q: What do oysters eat, and how do they eat it?
A: Baby oysters eat algae by filtering seawater through their gills. Algae is a microscopic plant that grows in water, so the oyster is a vegetarian, or plant eater. In fact, oysters eat only algae, or phytoplankton, through their entire life. A good sized adult oyster can filter some 80 Litres of water per day, and if every litre contained thousands of tasty, digestible bits of algae, you can imagine the process.
Q: What's the difference between farmed and wild oysters?
A: Oyster farming is unique because farmed oysters are grown in their natural environment, the ocean, and they filter the same food as wild oysters. The main difference between the two is that farmed oysters are looked after by growers. Oyster farmers may use gear to protect the oysters, as well as certain techniques to promote uniformity and growth. Wild oysters grow on public beds, and are caught by shellfishermen or "diggers." The most important difference between farmed and wild is that farmed oysters are more sustainable.
Q: Where do oysters get their flavor from?
A: Oysters take on flavors influenced by their surrounding waters and topography very much like wine and coffee. For example, an oyster grown closer to freshwater will taste less salty than an oyster grown in a salt pond. Any number of environmental characteristics can influence an oyster's flavor such as the minerals in the sediment of the growing area, the amount of seaweed nearby, or even the type of algae the oyster may be filtering.
The best way to learn more about oysters? Ask questions and eat more of them! Try oysters when you're in new places and continue exploring because who knows what you'll discover. The world is your oyster.