North Carolina Oyster Week, a celebration of the ecology, economy and culture of oysters in the state, will run from Oct. 11-15, and is filled with events aimed at saluting the shellfish.
Morehead City began the festivities ahead of time with the North Carolina Seafood Festival from Oct. 1-3, which blended education on the ecological effects oysters have on marine ecosystems and wine-paired tastings into one weekend.
To celebrate oyster week closer to home, Saltbox Seafood Joint in Durham will be serving a one-day-only oyster and gravy dish concocted by Chef Ricky Moore on Oct. 9. Swansboro’s White Oak Oyster Company will have fresh oysters ready for purchase at the South Durham Farmers Market that same Saturday.
White Oak Oyster Company’s owner Benjy Davey said he founded his company after sensing a need for locally sourced oysters.
“Harvesting is a lot of work, but at the same time, I just enjoy being out there,” Davey said. “It’s just something fun, relaxing, enjoyable, fulfilling.”
Oysters are recognized not only for their connection to North Carolina cuisine and their taste, but their positive impact on marine ecosystems. Davey said he thinks Oyster Week is an opportunity for the North Carolina shellfish industry to get its name out there.
“It’s all about awareness,” Davey said. “A lot of people just don’t know that North Carolina, that we grow some of the best oysters in the country.”
Beyond building an awareness toward oyster consumption, having that same recognition to oyster’s ecological improvements, especially on water quality, are incredibly important, Davey said.
Jane Harrison, a coastal economics specialist at N.C. Sea Grant, a coastal research and education institution, said she believes the presence of oysters on North Carolina’s shore is beneficial.