From working class food to expensive delicacy
In the early 19th century, oysters were cheap and mainly eaten by the working class. Throughout the 19th century, oyster beds in New York harbor became the largest source of oysters worldwide.
On any day in the late 19th century, six million oysters could be found on barges tied up along the citys waterfront. Oysters were naturally quite popular in New York City, and helped initiate the citys restaurant trade.
New York’s oystermen became skilled cultivators of their beds, which provided employment for hundreds of workers and nutritious food for thousands. Eventually, rising demand exhausted many of the beds. To increase production, they introduced foreign species, which brought disease, when combined with effluent and increasing sedimentation from erosion, which destroyed most of the beds by the early 20th century.
Oysters popularity has put an ever-increasing demands on wild oyster stocks.
This scarcity increased prices, converting them from their original role as working class food to their current status as an expensive delicacy.
Nutritional values of Oyster :
Oysters, especially ‘wild’, are excellent sources of several minerals, including iron, zinc and selenium, which are often low in the modern diet. They are also an excellent source of Vitamin B12. Oysters are considered the healthiest when eaten raw on the half shell.
Traditionally, oysters were considered to be an aphrodisiac. A team of American and Italian researchers analyzed bivalves and found they were rich in amino acids that trigger increased levels of sex hormones. Their high zinc content aids the production of testosterone.