Vote for me, eat some oysters, and help native oysters

I'm a Finalist in the Marx Foods Oyster Contest

My short radio play Miriam and the Bawdy Bivalves is a finalist in the Marx Foods Oyster Contest! But upon closer examination of the oysters offered, I cannot endorse farming non-native oysters in Puget Sound, however delicious they might be. So here’s what I’m going to do.

If I win, I’m going to hold a massive oyster dinner for me, Eric, and 6 lucky guests. The oysters will be supplemented with local mussels, Eric’s homemade pasta & sauce,  the garlickiest garlic bread ever to garlic, and my world-famous cranberry apple crisp. We’ll ask each guest to donate $10 (and will donate $10 ourselves) and will send the donations to the Nature Conservancy’s Olympia Oyster restoration project. (Olympia oysters are the Pacific Northwest’s only native oyster, but were nearly wiped out from overharvesting and habitat destruction.)

But who should be those lucky guests? Vote in the poll below. And if you think this is a good idea, vote for my radio play here!


18 Responses to Vote for me, eat some oysters, and help native oysters

  1. Justin Marx says:

    Hey Miriam,

    It’s Justin Marx from

    If you prefer, we’ll send you 4 dozen olympia oysters instead of the sampler. If you win, just let us know.

    But, my take on the native vs. non-native thing is that oysters are restorative to the waterway since they essentially filter it…and it’s not like it’s farmed salmon that can escape and crowd-out the indigenous species. I’ve always thought that if you could eat a farmed carrot, you could eat a farmed oyster. Am I wrong?

  2. Hi Justin,

    Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I appreciate your Olympia oyster offer, and I still hope I win! Unfortunately, non-native oysters do cause environmental problems, though you are right that they are also performing a service by filtering the water.

    The Japanese oyster drill and Eastern oyster drills (both are predatory snails) were introduced to Puget Sound with Pacific and Atlantic oysters, and have been part of the reason that Olympia oysters haven’t been able to recover. Also, though this may not be the case in Puget Sound, oysters can indeed be invasive. The Pacific oyster is causing problems in the North Sea. And a mystery oyster has invaded San Francisco Bay.

    My personal opinion is that the non-native oysters sold at Marx Food are already in Puget Sound so I might as eat & enjoy them. I also think that oyster farms (whatever the species) do contribute to keeping the water clean, both by directly filtering it and by creating a big economic incentive to prevent pollution in the first place.

    But because this is an environmental issues blog, and because I actually spend my time researching invasive species, I feel that I can’t promote your sweet, delicious oyster contest while ignoring the downsides of farming non-native oysters. Hope this explanation helps!

  3. anna says:

    voted! and if you need another lucky guest, it sounds to me like a delicious excuse for an sd trip!

  4. jebyrnes says:

    Oh, I’ll totally travel…

    Maybe I’ll bring some kelp! For…um… Well, I’ve always wanted to try and make seaweed salad!

  5. Eric Wolff says:

    C’mon, people! Miriam’s hilarious radio play is getting beat by a cute kid picture. Let’s get the voting on!

  6. Sam says:

    I voted for “Miriam’s family and friends back east” because I am a shellfish, shellfish person (har har), but of course the winners should really be your San Diego peeps. Less fossil fuel for the traveling, etc., etc.

    Le sigh.

  7. Justin Marx says:

    That makes sense. I appreciate the fact that you pointed out the downsides of oyster farming. I think it is important for people to understand, so they can make the best decision for themselves. If you are interested, I’d be open to you guest blogging on our blog about oysters or other shellfish that we sell and the upsides and downsides of their consumption. We’re trying to be as transparent as possible and welcome your insight.

    While you’ll never see seafood like farmed salmon (my personal pet peeve) or patagonian toothfish on our site, my general take is that eating oysters is not an irresponsible thing to do environmentally.

    And, if there are products that you think are great, please let me know. I’d be very interested in adding more sustainable products to our offerings.

  8. Justin Marx says:

    I’m inspired by your idea for your guests to donate $10 to the nature conservancy. After some thought, I’ve decided that if you win…I’ll match your $80 donation in your name.

  9. Thanks so much, Justin! My chances of winning seem to be pretty slim – the 8 year old is kicking my patootie – but I’d be happy to do some guest posts on sustainable seafood.

  10. J.P. says:

    It makes me sad to see all of you people want to eat those poor souls, where is the idealistic thought of FREE W ….. oysters?!

  11. Brady Blake says:

    Actually there is no credible science that supports a claim that oyster drills have kept Olympia oysters from recovering. One of the largest occurrences of Olympia’s in Puget Sound and is also heavily infested with Japanese drills. That population is estimated at around 20 million oysters. In my 19 years as a shellfish biologist working with oysters in Puget Sound I have never seen an Atlantic drill. The mystery oyster that invaded San Francisco Bay is a Pacific that has been present as a species in those waters for decades. Just clearing up some myth-conceptions.

  12. Hi Brady,

    Thanks for posting! I only have a very general knowledge of Puget Sound and so it’s great to have a real live expert check in. In your opinion, what is it that keeps Olympia oysters from recovering?

  13. Brady Blake says:

    A lack of suitable intertidal habitat is the primary factor restricting increases in Olympia oysters. Much of that historical habitat has been lost due to siltation from runoff and phytoplankton productivity. There has been some excellent results from the initial efforts to create habitat through placement of oyster shell in the low intertidal. I have also found that Olympia oysters will rapidly colonize any plantings of Pacific oysters placed in suitable habitats. Eventually those Pacific oysters will be harvested with the remnant shell continuing to provide a home for native oysters or will die of old age without reproducing and provide the same benefit.

    I grew up in our cranberry producing region on the coast and am really looking forward to preparing that Cranberry-Apple Crisp!

  14. One of my favorite field trips as a tiny Miriam was to the Ocean Spray factory in Massachusetts. I _love_ cranberries. I’ll post the crisp recipe soon!

  15. […] & oyster contest update Posted by Miriam Goldstein under Sunday Links   Alas, I did not win the Marx Foods oyster contest. I was beat by an oyster-loving kid – apparently satirical radio […]

  16. alexa says:

    thank u for stoping by and comeing

  17. alexa says:

    it maks me cry when the poor people do not have anyto eat

  18. Dogs Eating Chocolate…

    […]Vote for me, eat some oysters, and help native oysters « The Oyster’s Garter[…]…

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