Edible San Francisco Winter 2012 : Page 8
edible AMUSE SF SuperFood: Oysters P 8 | rized for their delicate ﬂavor and deep complexity, oysters in all their forms are adored by sea food lov-ers around the world. For such a small package, the oyster has an astounding range of nutritional ben-eﬁts—making this humble bivalve one of the planet’s most underappreciated superfoods (even for vegetarians). WHAT IS IT? True oysters are the edible kind and are distinct from pearl oysters, which are actually saltwater clams and a diﬀer-ent family of mollusks. Oysters grow in large beds or reefs, making them essential to the health of many marine habitats. Because they are ﬁlter feeders, oysters can be instrumental in removing harmful nitrogen compounds from the environ-ment and converting them into safer byproducts. Ninety-ﬁve percent of the world’s edible oyster population HEALTH BENEFITS Another reason for vegetarians to consider enjoying the occasional oyster is that they are incredibly high in vitamin B12, an essential nutrient that is notoriously lacking in veg-etarian diets. Just two medium oysters provide over 90% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin B12. Those same two oysters will also provide 170% of your EDIBLE SAN FRANCISCO WINTER 2012 ILLUSTRATION BY MARIA SCHOETTLER is sustainably farmed and harvested. Unlike farmed ﬁsh and other marine species, oysters eat plankton and do not require wild-caught ﬁsh oil or other environmentally damaging supplements to thrive. They are also relatively easy to harvest without damaging the environment, making them a “best choice” on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch list. In addition to their environmental sustainability, oysters have been considered by some to be an ethical choice for vegetarians because they lack a central nervous system. Every good neuroscientist knows that “pain is in the brain” and not in the body. Though oysters do have a rudimentary nervous system allowing for simple reﬂexes like snapping shut when disturbed, in an oyster this occurs below the level of con-sciousness more like the knee-jerk reﬂex your doctor tests by tapping your knee with a rubber hammer.
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