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Differences Between Farmed and Wild Oysters

We all love the taste of fresh raw oysters. Whether in a restaurant or at home, taken with freshly squeezed lemon juice or your favorite topping, oysters are an unforgettable eating experience. But one question often comes up when ordering oysters, what are the differences between farmed oysters and wild oysters?

Oyster farm with oysters raised up on crates

Oyster Farming

Before we talk about the difference between wild oysters and farmed oysters, it is important to point out that oyster farming is a process that is great for the environment and the oyster population. It is very different from the concept of farmed fish, in fact farmed oysters can contribute significantly to the cleanliness of the waters around the farm.

Farmed oysters are extremely healthy, and don’t generate waste or pollution. They do the opposite, removing nitrogen from the water and making it a better environment for other plant and aquatic life. Oyster farming is clean and efficient, and farmers have no use for chemicals or other pollutants often associated with fish farming.

Farmed Oysters vs Wild Oysters

The reality is that wild oysters and farmed oysters grow in pretty much the same way, although thanks to a protected environment, farmed oysters have a much easier life. Some say wild oysters taste better, but this isn’t really true either.

Oysters get their taste from the environment they were in. Oyster farming locations are carefully chosen to provide a unique flavor, where wild oysters often have to scavenge across wide areas to find food, and as a result tend to lose some of that focused flavor. As a result, many think that farmed oysters offer the superior taste, but overall, there is little difference between the two.

Only one in a million wild oyster eggs grow to maturity, so wild oysters are certainly rarer, and they are harvest through digging, which causes damage to the surrounding environment. In many ways, a farmed oyster is more environmentally friendly.

In fact, the only immediately noticeable difference between farmed oysters and wild oysters is that because oyster farming takes care of the oysters and provides the perfect location for them, they have more uniform, better-looking shells. Wild oyster shells tend to be misshapen and gnarled, a result of the hard life that wild oysters live, under constant stress and danger.

So, by sticking with farmed oysters, you can enjoy the same wonderful taste while knowing that you are helping to promote sustainability for the oysters and their environment.