Buying Oysters


On Buying Oysters
John McCabe

Although oysters are edible and very affordable all year, most oysters grown in Europe and North America are traditionally purchased around Christmas and New Years. Additionally, Thanksgiving is an oyster biggie in the United States. No turkey dinner is complete without oyster stuffing.

Oysters are sold to the public in a number of ways. Canned oysters can be found in just about any well stocked grocery store across North America. Some stores also carry tasty smoked oysters in vacuum packs. Buying these oysters is pretty straight forward. The only consideration I can think of is perhaps to look on the label and see what country they came from. I avoid buying any oysters, canned or otherwise, which did not come from American or Canadian waters. I know the many food safety hoops American and Canadian growers constantly have to jump through before they can sell their wares. Although I recognize that Chinese shellfish growers also work very hard and produce (by far) the most oysters in the world, I don't know how broad and strictly enforced their marine food safety standards are or what kind of water these oysters have been filtering.
After reading a number of news articles like this one I've made my decision: No thanks. I'll pass. Aside from that I'd much rather like to see the hard working American and Canadian oystermen make a buck - even if I have to pay a little more. I've met a bunch of them in my time. Never once did I meet one that did not work very hard for every penny he earned.
Shellfish cultivation in Western Europe is also highly regulated, particularly since almost all the oysters harvested there are consumed raw. Particularly France, Great Britain and Ireland are well known producers of high quality oysters.

The following little reports deal mainly with buying fresh oysters - particularly the ones in the shell:

* Fresh Oyster Types
* Looking over the Seafood Display (and Who's behind it)
* LiFo (Last in, First out) Shopping
* How many Oysters to Buy
* Buying Oysters on the Internet

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Health advisory: There is a risk associated with consuming raw oysters or any raw animal protein. If you have chronic illness of the liver, stomach, or blood or have immune disorders, you are at greatest risk of illness from raw oysters and should eat oysters fully cooked. If you are unsure of your risk, you should consult your physician.

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