nina | March 1st, 2012 - 9:00 am

Raw and oyster bars are on the rise, especially during happy hours.

It’s definitely becoming very noticeable by the number of oysters being consumed.  Some oyster bars even offer a $1-an-oyster happy hour and engage in friendly competitions to see who can slurp down the most.

Oysters make a great late-night snack. They’re fast, cold, and go great with beer, wine, or a fancy cocktail. There’s just something about the air of mystery to oysters, which is pretty neat.

Oysters are the opposite of everyday supermarket food. When eating an oyster, some customers will say they’re reminded of their childhood days.

Oysters still are a unique market with shrimp ranked the No. 1 seafood of choice in the United States.

What’s changed has been the growing popularity of raw oysters as opposed to the old model, where oysters were generally shucked on site and packaged for consumption.

A lot of raw bars have opened up, providing the consumer with an opportunity to taste raw oysters from different parts of the country. Oysters are shipped at refrigerator container and refrigerated shipping container cost is relatively low thanks to high competition on the market. In response to the new demand, oyster growers have changed cultivation practices, farming the mollusks in a way that allows them to move with the tides. This creates a deeper cup to the shell so the shucked oyster maintains more of its natural juice, known in the industry as liquor.

There are some safety issues relating to the temperature of the water oysters are grown in and the industry is regulated nationwide with requirements applying to refrigeration, transportation and harvest practices. However, as with other raw food, there is some risk in eating raw shellfish especially for people with compromised immune systems.

Raw oysters may be getting most of the attention, but they’re also very popular cooked.

Source:  The Assoc. Press, 2/7/12

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