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The Gospel of the Alabama Oyster

Alabama’s oyster reefs have historically harvested an average of 1 million pounds of oysters per year and have made it one of the top oyster producing states in the nation for more than a century. But changes to water temperature, environmental impacts, parasites, and other issues have made the reefs unpredictable and, at times, unproductive. Oyster farming — with the help of the Auburn University Shellfish Laboratory — has emerged as a more controlled way of continuing Alabama’s oyster producing traditions. On behalf of Southern Food Alliance, based at the University of Mississippi’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture, Joe York talks about the strong future for oysters in Alabama due to farming.

“In 2009, not a single oyster farm operated on the Alabama coast. By 2015, there were eight oyster farming companies, all determined to prove that the world’s best oysters come from this Southern state. Lane Zirlott, of Murder Point Oyster Company, calls it an oyster revolution – one that focuses on presentation as much as taste, and enables hard-working families to make a consistent living on the Alabama waters,” York said.

Officials want to see a growth in farming and reef harvesting to boost oyster production in Alabama to new heights.

The Southern Foodways Alliance documents, studies, and celebrates the diverse food cultures of the changing American South.

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