Briny, sweet, metallic, clean, and vegetal are just some of the words used to describe the flavor of oysters. Did you know you can now enjoy these flavors while helping improve the health of San Francisco Bay? In the first local promotion of its kind, Waterbar’s Oyster Give Back Campaign donates five cents to The Watershed Project for every oyster purchased at the restaurant through the first week of September.
Eating oysters to save oysters? Sure this may sound counterintuitive, but there is a sound explanation. The Watershed Project is restoring the West Coast’s only native oyster, the Olympia oyster (Ostrea lurida) to San Francisco Bay. But if you’re sitting in a Bay Area restaurant enjoying your $1 happy hour oysters, and they were farmed in Tomales Bay, Humboldt Bay, or even Morro Bay, you’re most likely enjoying a clean, briny, and vegetal Pacific oyster. Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas) are originally from Japan and grown in California waters because oyster farmers appreciate the oyster’s hardiness and fast-growing qualities. Our local oyster farmers are indeed farmers and are not harvesting, foraging, or hunting wild oysters.
If you enjoy oysters and are willing to eat a few or a dozen for this campaign, you are not harming the native oysters in San Francisco Bay. The Watershed Project restores native oysters for their ecosystem benefits, but they are not meant to be eaten by people due to the Bay’s pollution. By restoring oysters, the shells then become habitat for smaller organisms, such as amphipods, worms, crabs, and other macroinvertebrates. These small animals then become food for larger organisms like salmon and birds. Thus, by simply restoring oyster habitat we are able to realize many other benefits.
Oyster habitat is the most impacted marine habitat on the planet. Worldwide, we have lost about 85 percent of historical levels of oyster reefs. The money raised from this partnership is not only helping build oyster reefs but also connects both adults and students with oysters through hands-on environmental education. Our native oyster restoration program connects the community with their watershed in a lasting and meaningful way.
We hope this fundraising partnership is an opportunity for all to enjoy, maybe even try for the first time, the most sustainably farmed protein, with a new found knowledge of the difference between locally farmed and restored oysters.
P.S. Want to check out the taste of Olympia oysters and become even more connected to this native species? At Waterbar you can order Olympia oysters, to eat, but these oysters are farmed and shipped from Washington State. They’re sweet, metallic, and small but packed with flavor. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. Just don’t eat our restoration project.
To learn more about The Watershed Project’s oyster restoration efforts, please visit our wesbite.
To volunteer, contact Living Shoreline Program Manger, Chris Lim:
firstname.lastname@example.org // @Native_Oyster