30. December 2013 · Comments Off on A Brief Essay on the Bottom of the Food Chain · Categories: Cooking, Food · Tags: , , ,

As a culture, we have learned to eat high on the the biological hog, as it were. The majority of our protein sources, if we are not of the vegan/vegetarian persuasion, come from creatures that are relatively high up the ladder as far as who eats whom. Many of our fish, even, are fish-eaters themselves requiring several pounds of other seafood to put on a pound of their own weight. Aquaculture, if done badly, can be just as polluting as factory farming. Wild-catch fish are rapidly being depleted in fisheries worldwide as demand rises.

Which leads me to ponder why we’ve largely ignored the virtues of the lower orders of the marine ecosystem. Sure, small oily fishes (which are admittedly pretty tasty in their own right) have garnered attention in trendy eateries and with those who espouse the Mediterranean diet. But I’ve always been interested in going even lower, to the bivalves and molluscs. Sure, oysters are the darlings of the filter-feeder set, eaten raw and roasted with refined sauces and fine wines at the fanciest of tables. Clams have their fans, particularly in the northeastern parts of the US.

But for pure availability and bang-for-buck, we have to talk about mussels. More »