The World Is Your Oyster: How Our Favorite Shellfish Could Save Coastlines Worldwide

If we at Gastropod were asked to name a perfect food, the oyster would be at the top of our list. Oysters are pretty much always our answer to the question of what we'd like to eat this evening—but are they also the answer to the slow-motion disaster of disappearing coastlines worldwide? Join us this episode as we discover how this magical mollusk contains a pearl of hope in the fight to counter rising sea-levels, prevent erosion, and buffer storm surges everywhere from hurricane-hit New Orleans to New York City's flood-prone fringes. But be prepared: you just might join the ranks of the oyster obsessed.

Episode Notes

Left, oyster shells bagged and ready to be returned to the Gulf of Mexico as the foundation for new reefs; right, the bags stacked up amid many more shells drying and curing in the sun, both at the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, which recycles oyster shells donated by local restaurants. (Photos by Cynthia Graber)

Paul Greenberg

James Beard Award-winning food and environmental writer Paul Greenberg is the author of many books about seafood, including American Catch: The Fight for Our Local Seafood. You can also hear him in our fish oil episode, Omega 1-2-3.

Boyce Upholt

Boyce Upholt is an environmental journalist and the author of The Great River: The Making and Unmaking of the Mississippi, which will be published in June 2024. You can also hear him in our recent episode about Cajun and Creole food.

The oyster reef reconstructed by The Nature Conservancy in Calcasieu Lake, Louisiana. (Photo by Nicola Twilley)

Seth Blitch

Seth Blitch is the coastal and marine conservation director for Louisiana at the Nature Conservancy.

Darrah Fox Bach

Darrah Fox Bach is the program manager of the oyster shell recycling program at the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana.


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