“On an acre-for-acre basis, mussel rafts produce hundreds of times more edible food than cattle ranching, making mussel farming a leader in food production.” – Taylor Shellfish Farms
I’ve eaten a lot of mussels in my life. Slurped them down without a care in the world, letting the wine-soaked, or sometimes, coconut milk-soaked juices run down my fingers and drip onto a discarded shell plate. There’s no elegant way to eat mussels. In my opinion, it’s one of those things like fried chicken – you just “get into” them. It’s a sloppy, joyful existence eating a bowl of mussel meat. And when they are plump and fresh, not scrawny and sad, it’s food bliss.
So why then did I never stop to think about how mussels are grown? I guess it never entered my mind to think beyond the 5lb bags I was buying at the seafood store. They came that way and that was that. Well, talk about being happily enlightened. Until I filmed this story, I didn’t realize mussels go through quite a bit before they reach your plate.
This summer, I spent some time with Gordon King, a sustainable mussel farmer from Totten Inlet in South Puget Sound. Now, besides looking like a more muscular version of Sean Connery, he was charming, engaging and really really passionate about his mussel crop.
Over a million pounds of hatchery-raised Mediterranean mussels are grown via suspension culture every year under his supervision – harvesting up to 25,000 lbs per week and shipped locally along the West Coast and to Chicago and New York. From July to early fall, the mussels are the fattest. In fact, they say this species of mussel, compared to blue mussels or New Zealand green-lipped mussels, is sought after by chefs for its high meat content. And after you see the video, you’ll also understand from the surroundings why their flavor is always fresh.
So seek them out now!
In New York, these specific Mediterranean mussels can be found on the menus at Marea, BLT Prime, Celeste and Convivo. And if you want to know how to get your hands on them yourself, you can contact W&T Seafood locally in New York or Taylor Shellfish Farms out West.
And if you ever need a mussel eating-partner here in NYC. Don’t hesitate to contact me on Twitter!
Thanks for watching food. curated. Happy Eating!
**And much gratitude to the Taylor Shellfish family for help making this trip possible.**