Alabama Oysters have a new fan page.
OystersAlabama.com is a website recently developed by the Mobile Bay Estuary National Program (MBNEP) to promote oysters grown and farmed in coastal Alabama waters. Henry Perkins, director of business resources for MBNEP, explains that the website was designed to grow Alabama’s oyster industry.
“There was nothing specific to promote the oysters themselves, it was a hole that needed to be filled,” he said. “There are a lot of restaurants here on the coast that serve oysters and there are a lot of people going to the store to buy oysters, but there is not a lot of knowledge at this basic level about the origin of these oysters.”
OystersAlabama.com offers a list of Alabama oyster farms as well as processors and wholesale distributors that sell aquaculture-raised Alabama oysters. Perkins said providing this information in one online location makes it easy for restaurants and stores to find local oysters.
“The goal is to connect wholesalers and retailers to sources so they know who to ask and what to get,” Perkins said. “It’s here to introduce some of the farms, to introduce some of the wild catchers, and to encourage people to go out to restaurants, order oysters, and ask your server where they’re from.”
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Perkins said more than half a dozen distributors have contacted him since the website launched earlier this year, asking him to connect them with oyster farmers in Alabama. He hopes the website will continue to grow demand for Alabama oysters.
“I would love to see people use this website as a jumping off point for anything oyster related,” Perkins said. “I would love to see widespread appreciation for this high-quality, eco-friendly protein we create that filters our waters, protects our shorelines, and is really good to eat.”
Wood-grilled oysters from The Depot in Auburn. (contributed)
Oysters served at the Capitol Oyster Bar in Montgomery. (Jared Boyd)
Oysters thrive in coastal Alabama waters because the southern climate allows for year-round harvesting, and the thriving bays and estuaries provide plenty of nutrition and protection that enhance the coastal landscape. As a result, Alabama’s oyster reefs historically harvested an average of 1 million pounds of oysters per year and made the state one of the nation’s leading oyster producers for more than a century.
“We have dozens and dozens of oyster farmers harvesting oysters off our reefs, but those oysters aren’t always consumed in Alabama,” Perkins said. “Part of the ‘Eat Local’ movement demands that we ask ourselves where our oysters come from and how can we support this unique economy?”
To learn more about Alabama oysters or to connect with an Alabama oyster grower, processor, or distributor, visit OystersAlabama.com.