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Jun 15, 2013 12:40 PM

Farmed Seafood and "R" Months

I'm guessing most people have heard of the advice to not eat seafood in months not containing the letter R. Reasons for this seem to range from spawning cycles to certain bacteria to heat just making shipping worse (although the last one seems unlikely given how modern shipping works).

Question is: does any of this matter at all if the seafood is farmed? I've been seeing farmed clams at the supermarket and would like to try something with them.

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    1. It's an outdated notion before modern handling techniques.

      15 Replies
      1. re: C. Hamster

        Not always. My local oysters aren't harvested until the waters cool off. They need the warm months to spawn.

        1. re: Sue in Mt P

          shellfish do spawn in the summer, so sustainability may be an issue, but it also does affect the texture. summer sea urchin is just not as firm, nor are the oysters.

          gulf oysters carry the danger of vibrio vulnificus during summer, which can be unpleasant at least, or fatal.

          i don't worry about shipping anymore, just point of origin.

          here's some info about farmed clams:

          1. re: hotoynoodle

            gulf oysters carry the danger of vibrio vulnificus during summer, which can be unpleasant at least, or fatal.

            is this the "red tide" sickness that one of the chacters in my book got after eating oysters in New Orleans 1854?

            1. re: girloftheworld

              Not the same thing at all. Vibrio is a virus, red tide is an algal bloom.

              1. re: pikawicca

                can it make the oysters bad? or is this just another case of author not doing her research?

                1. re: girloftheworld

                  scientists prefer the term "harmful algal bloom", or hab. they produce toxins which affect the flesh of fish and shellfish and YES can be fatal. cooking does not clear the toxin, so raw and cooked are equally dangerous.

                  when there is a problem, the state or local authorities will put out an advisory or outright ban and the critters from affected areas are not caught or harvested, so will be missing from the market.

                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    thank you. so back then people probally died from all sorts of food things that we seldom dont die from. Kind of like the Salem witch LSD bread

                    1. re: girloftheworld

                      nobody died from ergot poisoning during the the salem witch hysteria --only from hanging, and one man, giles corey, was crushed to death by stones. a more appropriate analogy would be unpasteurized milk. :)

                      that infected rye started that black period in american history has basically been debunked.

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        really? no inffected rye? I love knowing stuff like this! I must read more !! Thank you.. Every year in school my teachers have been telling the story of infected bread. Soooo often I have go and dig further when something sounds wonky. Like in fifth grade the teacher said Sacajawea was a just a cook and servant. I like Woah camel... she did a whole lot more than that!

                        What about Robert Falcon Scott not making to to the South Pole due to lead poisoning or bacteria causing brain damanage from his the preserved food he brought...where his rival Amundsen ate his dogs?

                        1. re: girloftheworld


                          it's "possible" the first girl who fell ill may have suffered from ergot poisoning, but the rest? highly suspect. either your books are outmoded or your teachers are lazy.

                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                            I think my teachers are just afraid to do anything that isnt in the state and distrct approved books lest some wacko parent scream,

                            Perfect Storm
                            highly suggestable teens Tituaba
                            something weird happens to one
                            none of them want to be left out
                            parents jump on the band wagon

                            1. re: girloftheworld

                              i lived in salem for almost a decade and walked by the giles corey plaque nearly everyday. made my blood run cold each time.

                              the misogyny and patriarchy of powerful men persecuting land-holding widows would be a far more timely curriculum, imo, but whatevs. lol.

                              i know ergot poisoning is held as a possibility for some other hysteria. wonder what other foods are held liable like that?

                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                It would be an interesting special Bad foods in history.

                                they could do the Harvey Milk -a twinkie made do it

                                BGH causing early breast development in girls

                                Foodies cauing rise in canibalism

                                Gmo causing rise in food allergys and autism

                                Soy causing boys to become femine

                  2. re: girloftheworld

                    It doesn't "make the oysters bad;" the virus itself is what makes people ill, sometimes fatally so.

          2. re: C. Hamster

            I don't think so, Cath. Vibrio is the worry; it can kill and is the greatest danger in months when the water is warm. There are no handling practices that can prevent it. If you want to eat oysters in the summer months, those from the cold waters of the Pacific Northwest are the safest (and the most delicious, in any event).

          3. I've only heard this applied to oysters, not all seafood. My understanding relative to oysters is that they are sterile when farmed, thus don't spawn, thus are available year around.

            2 Replies
              1. It's not all seafood...the saying is usually limited to oysters.

                Red Tide isn't the reason not to eat in R months. If a tide is present, the beds will be closed to harvesting.

                It also has nothing to do with sustainability...although it does have EVERYTHING to do with the oysters spawning. The warmer months trigger the oysters to release eggs and sperm. They get soft and not so pleasant...creamy, foamy, and what some folks consider gross.

                Some states with limited oysters (like SC & NC) have limited oyster seasons.

                Gulf oysters tend to be harvested year round.

                8 Replies
                1. re: JayL

                  "creamy, foamy, and what some folks consider gross."

                  ya- when I gather chicken eggs at the farm sometimes when you crack them them the white is" foamy" and lets just say... we say call that one sat on too long and toss it

                  I guess the oyster thing is the same?

                  1. re: JayL

                    Some states with limited oysters (like SC & NC) have limited oyster seasons.


                    they have limited seasons so they can spawn. which affects sustainability. :)

                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                      Because they have limited stock...which is exactly what I said.

                      So we're both right...

                      But some states have year-round harvest...even if they are full of frothy sperm...

                      1. re: JayL

                        am so glad molecular gastronomy seems to be phasing out!

                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                          I love molecular gatrononmy! I hope one day to use it to develop cost effective ways to bring food to devloping countries that will be more stimulating to their senses. I have theory. That children living in those conditions may be getting their needs met nutritionally... but food is about sooooo much more. and it it is demoralizing to get the same thing day after day . you have to feed their minds

                          1. re: girloftheworld

                            perhaps in the future those kids (and adults) may be getting their nutritional needs met, but they certainly aren't now.

                            even in western nations like the u.s., the poor kids may be not be wraith-thin, but few are getting the whole healthful foods they need to truly thrive.

                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                              One of the progams I work with Is the BackPack progam.. it is for the kids who face food insecurity. which means on the weekends or holidays when they dont have access to the school cafeteria they may not have access to food. So very discreetly they pick up a backpack filled with food to take home. I was horrifide at what they were sending home! Chips , little boxes of ceral, fruit chews, just junk. I was like really? ANd the lady said she could only give what what was donated at their partner which was a small church. So I got them in touch with Our County food Bank and the progam partnerd and the quality went up.