Sunday, November 22, 2009

Eating gulf oysters in August and other bad ideas

Well friends, Claire's Kitchen is busy as a bee prepping for the upcoming holiday food bonanza. This year, the hubby and I are having a two-part Thanksgiving. Dia de Gluttony, part uno, will be this Wednesday at our humble abode. We're having a pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving dinner for a few of our family and friends who just can't get enough of golden roast turkey, tart cranberry relish, and silky pumpkin pie. Then on Thursday, we are jetting down to Florida with my sister to have Thanksgiving, part deux, with my parents in their lovely winter home. Don't be surprised if we come back looking like this:

Yeah, right, Fluffy. You are one fat kitty.

Two Thanksgiving dinners in one week is probably not the healthiest choice ever. However, Claire's Kitchen tends to have a laissez faire approach to eating; in other words, adults should be able to eat what they want, provided they are given ample, truthful information about what they are eating and how it will affect their body. I came across an article in Slate the other day that dealt with a similar topic of consumer choice vs. consumer protection.

For those of your who are just too wiped out from all of your own Thanksgiving planning and preparation to click on a link, I'll summarize. Basically, the FDA wants to ban unprocessed oysters coming from the Gulf of Mexico during the summer months. Apparently that old saying "only eat oysters during months that contain an R" is actually true, at least for Gulf oysters. See, during the summer, the Gulf heats up to the point that those little oysters become breeding grounds for a bacteria called vibrio vulnificus. I'll spare you the details about what happens to people when they get raging infections from this nasty little bug - feel free to click the link to read more about it. Sicko.

Anyway, seems like a good idea, right? The FDA wants to protect people from disease. What's the problem? Well, the thing is, the whole situation could very well be blown out of proportion. First of all, most restaurants don't serve unprocessed oysters during the summer anyway. Secondly, those that do amply warn customers about the risks of eating unprocessed, raw oysters. Third, and my personal opinion, banning oysters due to a naturally occuring bacteria that kills around 15 people per year (virtually all who have underlying medical conditions that increases the virulence of the bacteria) paints the FDA as - well a bunch of hypocrites. The article points out that diseases stemming from the increases in factory farming, such as e. coli and salmonella, kill about 5,700 people per year, yet the FDA doesn't seem keen to shut down all factory farms any time soon. Why beat up on Louisiana oyster farmers? The FDA has come under fire lately for some pretty huge food-poisoning incidents, but it seems to me that basically killing the oyster industry in New Orleans while ignoring blatant industry-wide health issues in the factory farms is like kicking the cocker spaniel for barking but ignoring the pit bull for attacking the neighbor kid. I think the FDA is trying to fight a battle it knows it can win, which isn't very fair to the 3,500 people in the oyster business who could be out of a job next year.

Anyway, that's just a Claire's Kitchen opinion for you. Feel free to post in the comments with any debate, disagreement, or kudos on the subject. Next post will most likely be less soapboxing and more yummy photos of my many Thanksgiving dinners, so you've got that to look forward to next week!


  1. Hey have you heard about or tried the new irradiated gulf oyster? Its called "gold band" because it comes shrink-wrapped with a gold strip of plastic around it. Apparently the irradiation process rids the oyster of any bacteria. I have tried them (at St. Paul Fish Market at the Milwaukee Public Market, really best oysters I've ever had, certainly in the midwest) and they tasted fine to me. The irradiation process puffs them up a bit, so they are a little big, I personally like small, usually washington state, oysters myself.

  2. 1. the fat cat looks suspiciously like my cat Nugget.

    2. I, like you, find this dumb.

    3. Still waiting for that holiday food porn, ma'am!