In the News

nytimesAugust 29, 2007 New York Times Dining and Wine Section
By Marian Burros

NO one would ever mistake Edible Brooklyn for Edible Atlanta, though both are quarterly food magazines that share a corporate parent and a typeface. But the story titles in the latest issue of the Brooklyn version might flummox Atlantans. There is, for example, “Fresh Kills,” about a live poultry market in Williamsburg, and “Late Night Nosh,” which is self-explanatory, at least in New York City.

Read More


kutKUT – Music, News and NPR from Austin, TX

Listen to the show

nytimesNovember 6, 2005 New York Times Op-Ed page

Mollusk Lovers, Unite

Sag Harbor

SEAFOOD lovers keep your fingers crossed. On Monday, assuming all goes as planned, baymen will begin pulling bushels of scallops out of Long Island’s Great Peconic Bay. This body of water, about 75 miles east of New York City and defined by the North Fork and the Hamptons, had long produced arguably the most delicious mollusk that New York has to offer. But the scallops – sweeter and more tender than their larger, more common sea-scallop cousins – were almost completely wiped out by exotic algae that ruined their habitat 20 years ago.

The Peconic Bay scallop was once the pride of Long Island. The signature mollusks, New York’s official shell, graced tables across the country. Available from late September through March when most other local food and work were scarce, the bay scallops could account for as much as 50 percent of a bayman’s annual income. On opening day of scallop season, hundreds of boaters would drift along the bay, conversing with other scallopers in a town-meeting-like atmosphere, while hand-dredging scallop sand nests.

After a day’s harvest, neighbors would gather to pry open the ridged, purple shells and cut out the large muscles, or eyes, that we eat. (“Always a scallop in the air” was the compliment paid to people who could quickly shuck and toss the scallops into a pile.) It was a lucrative activity. Women clothed their families, did their Christmas shopping and even put their children through college shucking scallops. Two decades ago, Josephine Smith, a Shinnecock Indian and chef, regularly gathered a bushel, or 200 to 300 scallops, that had been washed up on the shore of Shinnecock Bay after a strong northeaster. But, Ms. Smith lamented recently, “My youngest son doesn’t know what it is to scallop after a strong east wind.”

You see, in the mid-1980’s, scallops and the culture that surrounded them landed on tough times. The mysterious exotic algae known as brown tide took hold in the bay; local marine biologists still offer little explanation about how they arrived and spread, though the cause was probably related to nitrogen pollution from farms and waterfront septic systems. The shellfish starved to death because they couldn’t eat the brown tide, which not only squeezed out the algae that scallops fed upon, but also suffocated the eelgrass beds where scallops nested.

Annual scallop harvests plummeted to 250 pounds in 1988 from an average of 270,000 pounds in the 1960’s. Most bay scallops sold in the United States are now frozen imports from China. “Nobody goes scalloping anymore,” said Brad Lowen, president of East Hampton Bayman’s Association. “There’s no scallops to go for.”

Fortunately, this season could be a turning point. This past spring and summer, baymen, naturalists and hobby fishermen all noticed significantly more baby scallops than in recent years. And in 2004, Suffolk County awarded Cornell University’s marine center in Southold a four-year grant of $1.8 million dollars to expand its efforts to raise and seed the bays with scallops.

At the center of this effort is the Southold Project in Aquaculture Training (whose acronym, SPAT, is also the term for baby bivalves). The project was established in 2001 and now involves hundreds of local residents from dozens of Long Island towns who are working to restore scallops and other wild shellfish populations. This army of volunteers – who raise baby scallops in tanks, feeding them until they are big enough to survive in the wild – has seeded, or placed in the water by hand, tens of millions of scallops and is at the center of one of the nation’s most successful shellfish restoration efforts. (The program has inspired similar ones in New Jersey, Cape Cod and Chile.)

The expanded seeding effort seems to be working and nurtures the possibility of reviving a storied local economy. But the problem won’t be solved by seeding alone. It will require replanting eelgrass beds, enforcing harvest quotas, restoring wetlands and protecting the bay from illegal dumping of toxic substances like chlorinated swimming pool water. It will mean restricting fertilizer use on bayside farms and lawns, as well as limiting waterfront septic systems.

Even seafood lovers have a central role to play. Like heritage pork and heirloom apples, rare shellfish will become more abundant partly because people demand it in restaurants and supermarkets. A steady demand for scallops, whether sautéed, stewed or fried, gives an incentive for politicians to protect the waters where the scallop resides.

So, the next time you get a craving for seafood, demand Peconic Bay scallops. It could be the mollusks’ best hope.

Brian Halweil, the author of “Eat Here: Reclaiming Homegrown Pleasures in a Global Supermarket,” is the editor of Edible East End.


Edible Communities founders Tracey Ryder and Carole Topolian are guests of the Food Network’s Dave Leiberman (Dave Does), as he explores Slow Food and Portland farmers markets. It’s episode twelve, and the Edible Communities segment is at the 5 minute 40 second mark.



nepaEdible Nutmeg Launched September 10

Read More


Couple leaves the corporate world behind to promote the region’s bounty

CUMMAQUID — Surrounded by the saltwater marshes and sheep pastures of the mid Cape, Doug and Dianne Langeland are doing what they love most: cooking, eating, and talking about food.

Read More

Comments are closed.