CHESAPEAKE, Va. - Recycled oyster shells are good for the environment and a great way to keep oysters on the menu.
But to get shells recycled the Chesapeake Oyster Bay Foundation needs a lot of help.
“We’re going through dozens a day,” Surf Rider General Manager Sean Miller said.
At Surf Rider, Oysters are a fan favorite, But forget the cocktail sauce, the secret ingredient – recycling.
“Two years ago, they came in and asked if we would like to help restore the Oyster population,” Miller said, “It’s basically we’re taking their trash so it’s kind of cool. A lot of times when you approach a restaurant they are very confused by it,” North said.
Could it be? The oysters you enjoy on date night have been munched on before?
Not exactly…Participating restaurants put leftover shells in a special bucket.
That bucket is then picked up by volunteers like Stephanie Long.
“I come on a weekly basis to several restaurants in the area and pick the shells up and then take them over to the bins and that’s the collection site,” Long said.
Next the shells are cleaned, "Then we take all the shells up to our work site where they go through a little bit of a cleaning process then they get set up with little baby oysters. So even if you like your oysters with a fresh squeeze of lemon or maybe you like to douse your oysters in spicy Tabasco sauce either way all of that will be cleaned off the shells so they can be put back into the bay like brand new."
But don’t worry you’re not eating someone’s sloppy seconds.
“Each individual oyster, the animal, produces their own shell. So a shell that comes out of the restaurant is only a substrate as a habitat for that so the oysters that attach to that recycled shell are a brand new oyster brand new shell they just use that as a base,” North said.
To keep the bay clean and oysters in the water the foundation needs more restaurants and volunteers to participate.
If you have an oyster roast or even order oysters at a local restaurant North says you are making a difference.