Virginia is the largest producer of fresh-wild catch and farm-raised oysters in the country. Over the past decade, aquaculture techniques have made oysters available year round and the Virginia oyster harvest has increased ten-fold. Historically, oysters were only eaten during months whose names contain an “R”. The quality was poor during summer because the oysters had just finished spawning. Oyster harvesting or farming has emerged in recent years, utilizing improved culture techniques and disease-resistant oyster seed. Triploid oysters are sterile, grow fast and can be harvested year-round. They are being raised in cages or on private reefs in an environmentally friendly way to keep up with consumer demand. Virginia’s waters and products are regulated by federal and state agencies including the FDA, the Virginia Department of Health, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.
Nutritionally, raw oysters have a protein content of about 9 percent and a fat content of less than 2 percent. One-half pound of raw oysters contains about 150 calories. The cholesterol content of oysters is 50 milligrams/100 grams of meat, and the sodium content is 109 milligrams/100 grams. Oysters are also very high in iron content. Since Roman times many people have believed oysters to be an aphrodisiac. There is no scientific basis for this belief. However, therapists treating patients for sexual disorders often recommended eating oysters due to their high iron content.
All oysters are eco-friendly and actively filter the water they are grown in. The oyster industry is one of the few industries that as it expands, provides tangible, increased environmental benefits. Our crops continually filter the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, removing excess nutrients that provide habitat for other species. The more we eat, the more we can grow. The more we can grow, the cleaner our water!