Shellfish aquaculture is a growing industry in Florida and provides one of the greenest agricultural products around!
Bivalve shellfish (e.g., clams and oysters) are a heart healthy food1, and provide a nutrient rich, low-calorie meat option2. They are an excellent source of protein and are high in iron, calcium and vitamin B. Clams are also loaded with Omega-3s1,2, which are essential building blocks for a healthy body.
By their simple acts of eating and growing, clams remove nitrogen, sequester atmospheric carbon and increase water clarity. We already know that shellfish farms have been linked to improved water conditions in many coastal systems3…so eating clams is not only good for you – it’s good for the planet, too!
Based on work done by Baker et al. (2015), a single clam can filter 4.5 gallons of seawater per day, sequester 2.76 g of atmospheric carbon, and remove 0.09 g nitrogen (through incorporation into tissues, and when animals are harvested, that nitrogen is removed from the water). In 2012, estimated shellfish aquaculture production in Florida was 136 million clams. That year, the ecosystem services4 provided by those harvested clams included:
- 544 million gallons of seawater filtered
- 25,400 lbs of nitrogen removed
- 760,600 lbs carbon stored
Seafood is synonymous with a good Florida meal, and many local reputable restaurants offer a variety of delicious shellfish options. But did you know that you can also cook your clams at home? A lot of people tell me that they don’t know how to prepare clams – which is just crazy! Florida Sea Grant Seafood at your Fingertips promotes tasty, sustainable, easy recipes that anyone can recreate in their kitchen.
Cookout Clams have become one of our favorite recipes. We share them as a fun appetizer with friends during a backyard BBQ, or pair them with crusty bread and a fresh salad for an easy meal.
Check out our cooking demonstration for these delicious Cookout Clams online, or just follow the recipe below. It doesn’t get much easier than this! And you can feel good about your choice to support local shellfish growers while creating a healthy and environmentally friendly meal.
The easiest way to cook the clams is to put them in a grill safe Pan and put them on the grill over medium heat until the shells pop open! Easy!
For the clams:
- 1 – 2 lbs. of littlneck or middleneck hard clams (about 25 – 50 clams)
- 1/3 cup Olive oil
- 2 – 4 cloves chopped Garlic
- 1/2 Tbs. Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 tsp. Red pepper flakes
- 1/2 Tbs. chopped chives
I recommend pairing these clams with a loaf of crusty bread (French or sourdough) and a fresh green salad. Dinner is DONE!
Photo courtesy of Angela Collins
1seafoodnutrition.org, 2seafoodhealthfacts.org, 3shellfish.ifas.ufl.edu/environmental-benefits/