from our farm
What goes in to producing our shellfish? How long does it take? Where does the seed come from?
If you are new to the joy of oysters have a read of our FAQs below.
Baja California is increasingly being recognized as one of the best eco-tourism destinations because of its untouched outstanding natural beauty; one of the highlights is the annual migration of the gray whale. It is also blessed with numerous national parks, one of which covers 35% of its surface area and another which houses the National Astronomical Observatory. The observatory was located in Baja because of the absence of air pollution allowing unrivalled views of the night sky.
Food science and personal health is extremely complex involving an innumerable amount of substances; some of which are digestible in certain forms, others not; which manifest themselves sometimes through non lineal relationships in our quite individual bodies. Add to this pot the sometimes misleading commercial interests of the processed food sector and it’s little wonder that we are first told that eating butter is good for us, then not and then… We do not pretend to be nutritional experts but feel that we now have a much better understanding of what we should try to eliminate from our diet (non-essential trans fats for example) and using our common sense we try to eat in moderation with a view to eliminating any nutrient deficiencies.
It is perhaps ironic that in the ‘land of the plenty’ many of us are deficient in minerals and we are very pleased that the mineral profiles of mollusks are, on the whole, extremely complete and provided for in plentiful quantities. For a detailed look at the nutritional composition of our shellfish we recommend that you visit the following sites:
100gs of raw oysters (approx ½ dozen) contain over 60 mcg of selenium (90% of RDV). We have read that some cancer death rates could be cut by selenium by up to 50%. Selenium deficiency can cause premature aging, heart disease and arthritis. On the other hand toxic heavy metals such as lead and mercury can become bound by selenium to become harmless and many viruses can be deactivated by its presence (Pitchford, Paul. Healing with Whole Foods. North Atlantic Books: pp 8‐9; 2002).
Thoughts over cholesterol and heart disease have changed over the past 10 yrs and while high levels in the blood are cause for concern, the consumption of foods that contain higher levels are now considered not to be so problematic. There are also other contributory factors; saturated fats greatly increase the manufacture of blood cholesterol (as does stress, cigarettes, coffee and refined sugar). For whatever reason mollusks often get a bad press for high levels of cholesterol. Here are some saturated fat and cholesterol comparisons:
* in milligrams per gram of sample
** saturated fat calories as a percentage of the total sample calories
Consumption of omega‐ 3 fatty acids is useful when saturated fat and cholesterol are not eliminated from the diet. Omega‐3s reduce blood viscosity, lower lipid levels, reduce clotting and lower blood pressure. Some more comparisons:
Omega 3 mg per 100g serving
100g of raw clams pack 50mcgs of vitamin B12 (exceeding recommended minimum daily values). Vitamin B12 is required for red blood cell formation and normal growth; it builds immunity and treats some degenerative diseases. Some signs of a B12 deficiency are weakness, listlessness, fatigue, diarrhea, depression, indigestion and mental imbalances (faltering memory, moodiness, apathy, personality changes). Many doctors claim this nutrient to be the most difficult for vegetarians to obtain.
In the mid 1980s the world reached its maximum sustainable marine fisheries yields of approximately 80 million tons per year. A 2016 report published by the FAO showed that in 2013 58.1% of the world’s commercial fish stocks were fully fished and 31.4% overfished. Only 10.5% of the world’s commercial fisheries remained underfished.
While the wild marine fisheries are reaching or exceeding their limits the human population is placing ever more strains on them:
Oysters and clams filter microalgae naturally available at the bottom of the food chain. As the farm is well managed and not overstocked there should be no change to the conditions in which they live. We think that this is the most responsible type of farming that you will find anywhere.
Our business model is shaped around the local community where employment and professional development opportunities are limited. Our teams include men, women, old and young – a population that would otherwise tend towards urban migration. Through the hatchery, we supply seed not only to our farms, but also to our associated farms. When fully grown we help to sell their product in the marketplace.
The US Senate defines local as being within the state or less than 400 driven miles. By that definition Southern California is considered to be local to our San Quintin farm.
This rule states that you should only eat oysters in the months that are spelled with an “r” – September to April but not May to August and originates from the year 1762 in Connecticut which banned oystering during this period for 3 main reasons: To protect the oysters during their reproductive season. In the days before refrigeration, to protect customers from becoming sick in the hotter summer months. It recognized that when oysters go through their reproductive phase they change in both taste and texture. None of these reasons necessarily apply any more. Gentle temperature variations in California coupled with our farming techniques and modern day refrigeration mean that, although there are some differences in our shellfish with the seasons, they can be enjoyed year round.
We suggest that you keep you shellfish dry in the fridge (35-40F). They are best placed in a bowl to catch any water, as they may open from time to time. Placing them with their rounded side down will help maintain the water in the shell. Placing a damp cloth over your shellfish will optimize their shelf life. Try to avoid: Freezing your shellfish (they will die). Letting your shellfish sit in water (e.g. from defrosted ice). The shellfish might open and filter that water which may have become dirtied. Direct contact with ice (try separating you shellfish and ice with a partition – to avoid freezing).
We do our utmost to ensure that you receive a quality product. From the water quality testing, harvesting, transport and general handling our systems are designed to give you a product that is clean and good for your health. Nevertheless we farm completely naturally and there are times when our quite unadulterated product is best discarded. Use your senses: Is the color right? Does it smell normal? Is it dry inside? Follow the golden rule, ‘if in doubt throw it out’. Ask someone in your group that may have more experience eating raw shellfish or pick up the phone and give us a call.
Generally speaking anyone who has a compromised or weak immune system, particularly individuals with liver conditions. Pregnant women should not eat raw shellfish. If you think you are allergic consult with your doctor (there are a number of tests that you can run).
Be careful, you are handling a knife that can cut you. Use a rag or glove to project your hand and find a surface where you keep the oyster firm and stable. Follow these 6 easy steps (see home page video):
Finally ‘clean’ the oyster of any shell debris caused during the opening process.
Who are we to suggest how you should enjoy your oysters? Many decisions are made from an emotional and quite personal viewpoint that we would never argue with. Nevertheless here are a few things to consider: Sweeter oysters (Kumamoto and Pacific oysters) are easier to pair with wines. More mineral tasting Eastern oysters, European oysters and Olympia oysters are harder to pair with. Tannins found in red wines tend to clash with the salt in the oyster. Dry is recommended above sweet; try a nice cold Cabernet Sauvignon, Sancerre, dry sake or dry champagne. Try adding a little citrus or vinegar (mignonette) acidity to the oyster as this will ‘cut’ the salt and help with the pairing. Cooking will achieve the same aim. When choosing your beer perhaps a light fizzy lager will clean your palate best.
Mollusks are fundamentally different from other ‘fish farm’ operations because they feed on naturally found micro‐algae in the sea. This food source is produced through the process of photosynthesis and is extremely abundant (forming the base of the food chain). However, because mollusks filter the water from which they feed, we must be careful that those waters are not polluted. The health authorities understand this and stipulate that all mollusk farms must be located in areas that are tested as clean (certified).
There are two conclusions to be reached from this: