Thursday, October 29, 2009

Do you know what it means ... ?

No raw oysters for most of the year? Exactly what would it mean to New Orleans and other Gulf Coast cities with storied oyster production and consumption traditions? Of course, there are the thousands of jobs which would be directly affected, and there are the many thousands more who would suffer economic effects.

What many may not realize is that what the FDA's regulation could do is have a cataclysmic effect on local culture. Even if we start from the premise that eating dead, previously irradiated or frozen oysters is OK, which it is not, there's no getting around the fact that a dozen Gulf oysters will cost 2 or three times as much as they do currently. Remember, this regulation applies to all oysters that are harvested in the Gulf 8 months during the year, so whether they're being cooked or not, they must be processed. What that means is that your $8 oyster poor boy now costs $15+ ... there's nothing poor about that!

More than just the price increases, however, is the loss of our cultural identity. There are the rituals associated with eating raw oysters, there are the oyster-centric gatherings, the festivals, the shuckers, and the great ones (like Thomas at Pascal's Manale) are a culture unto themselves.  New Orleans still has what so many other cities have lost, our living history. We haven't "sterilized" our city because it would cease to be "our city," and become just another "disney-ized" place that really means very little to the people who live there.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

We're Gaining Traction

Just posted on WDSU
Online Petition Aims At FDA Oyster Rule Reversal

Sign the petition now!

If you haven't done so already, please sign the petition to let the FDA know that we won't let them regulate our culture or happiness.

Food for Men: 10 Foods to Boost Male Health, What's #1?

Yes, OYSTERS ... the rawer the better. So in addition to putting lead in your pencil, there are some pretty major benefits to eating bivalves in the buff, that's for you or the oyster!

I wonder if the FDA has heard of a risk/benefit analysis. It's not like smoking, we're talking about something that's majorly healthy.

Irradiated Oysters

In spite of the fact that the FDA's approval of the technique, there are ample reasons to be skeptical of irradiated foods. I've collected a few:

According to
"Irradiation damages food by breaking up molecules and creating free radicals. The free radicals kill some bacteria, but they also bounce around in the food, damage vitamins and enzymes, and combine with existing chemicals (like pesticides) in the food to form new chemicals, called unique radiolytic products (URPs)"

"In addition, irradiation will likely have a mutagenic effect on bacteria and viruses that survive exposure. Mutated survivors could be resistant to antibiotics and could evolve into more virulent strains. Mutated bacteria could also become radiation-resistant, rendering the radiation process ineffective for food exposed to radiation-resistant strains.

Yummy, I bet those URPs are good for you too! Oh wait, I'm sure the FDA has done a lot of research to study what the long-term effects are of zapping bivalves with the equivalence of  30 million chest X-rays. What, they haven't??

Some interesting reading:

Defend our Bivalves!

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has made a decision to target the Gulf Coast oyster industry and force regulations which would cripple our $300 million industry and impact thousands of jobs. The rules would require that oysters harvested from the Gulf during the months of April through October be "sterilized" (most likely by irradiation), a process which kills the oyster and changes the taste and texture of the animal. As the FDA thumbs their nose at Gulf Coast seafood producers, they're checking under 2% of all imported seafood (including oysters) and testing only a percentage of that.  This figure becomes more poignant considering that imported seafood accounts for around 75% of all U.S. seafood consumption. The agency's reasoning is that 15 people die per year eating raw oysters, and this is an easy-to-fix problem. Though any lives lost are a tragedy, let's keep this number in perspective. Dozens more children die each year choking on hot dogs, thousands more die from eating tainted vegetables and meat. You can sign a petition which will go the the FDA here: