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From America to Zanzibar with Island Creek Oysters

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I just met with Skip Bennett and Shore Gregory from Island Creek Oysters—a co-op of sorts that farms oysters in Massachusetts’ Duxbury Bay. With them was Erin Byers Murray, a former Boston magazine and Daily Candy editor and occasional F&W contributor, who has spent the last eight months farming oysters and chronicling all the dirty details on her blog, Shucked.

She’ll be done with her yearlong apprenticeship in March, but she admitted she's tempted to stay longer—it's a really exciting time at the company. Skip and Shore have just returned from Zanzibar, Tanzania, where they’re working to set up sustainable shellfish farms for protein-starved villages. If it works, they want to try similar models in other countries.

The work they’re doing in Africa, they explain, is a way to give back to a community that’s entirely different from their clientele: “Our oysters are sold at every three-star Michelin restaurant in the U.S.,” Skip says.

Today, Erin will be hanging out at one restaurant Island Creek supplies: a little NYC spot known as Per Se. To get the full “farm-to-plate” experience, Erin will watch the cooks there use Island Creek's oysters to make chef Thomas Keller’s signature Oysters & Pearls dish. Then after a chat with the staff about oysters, Skip, Shore and Erin will have Per Se's full tasting menu. Sometimes, it’s good to be a farmer.

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