by Kelly Mertz for Change Food September 10, 2015
For most of us, the passing of Labor Day represents the end of summer—a last call for beach days, vacations, and sweet summer produce. However, when one door closes, another one opens. On land, September brings a lush harvest of figs, pears, apples, eggplants, beets, green beans, cucumber, and so forth. In the water, and on the shores of Long Island in particular, September means oyster season, which runs through March. The mineral-rich mollusks are beginning to fatten themselves up to prepare for the brisk Northeastern winter, making their edible flesh meatier, more flavorful, and ready to be harvested and eaten by shellfish lovers around the world.
Oysters are an integral part of the ecosystems of both the Long Island Sound and the Great South Bay, as they thrive on the hard sea floors and saltiness of these waters. As a main agricultural product of the region, oyster harvesting is a mainstay in the economies of Long Island’s coastal towns, begetting township names such as Oyster Bay. About 35 miles from New York City, Oyster Bay has been the home of the Oyster Festival since 1983, which last year drew a crowd of 215,000 people. So for the people, animals, and environment of Long Island, oysters are a big deal.