Clam Digging and Shellfishing

For those readers who live near an ocean, the author generously shares some of what he knows about clam digging and shellfishing.

| September/October 1978

Mmmm-MMMMI Clam chowder so rich that you can almost eat the steam ... mussels delicate enough in flavor to shame the adjectives that are normally used to describe tastes ....

Is this the bill of fare for a $30 dinner? Nope, these fancy foods are available "free for the takin' " to almost anyone within range of an ocean. And it won't take days of digging to fill your kettle, either.

Best of all, no expensive equipment is necessary to harvest your share of this seafood bounty. A good field guide (the bible on this subject is still Stalking the Blue-Eyed Scallop by Euell Gibbons), a desire to spend the day surrounded by the sounds and smells of the beach, and a willingness to brave water, mud, and rocks will just about do to get you started clam digging and shellfishing.

Since the variety of seafoods that can be gathered easily is great—and since the methods of collection differ from one critter to the next—it would be dang-nigh impossible to describe everything about this particular brand of wild food foraging in just one article. So, I'll tell you what my years of experience (and countless marine biology courses) have taught me about tidal foraging in this issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS and save the deeper water species for another article. But let's not waste time gabbin' when the sacks are empty!

The Bountiful Bivalves

Bivalves—mollusks with two hinged shells—make up the bulk of my seashore scavengings simply because they're readily available and are awfully fine eating. Even if you're a novice forager, you can fill your belly without difficulty on your first trip out if you concentrate on this large group of edibles.

Before we get down to specifics, however, a few words of caution are in order: Most mollusks feed by siphoning In water and straining out and absorbing the small bits of food (or anything else) that they happen to suck in with the liquid. Which, unfortunately, means that—where man has contaminated the water—these creatures can become tiny storehouses of poison. ALWAYS MAKE SURE OF ITS WATER PURITY THROUGH THE LOCAL HEALTH DEPARTMENT BEFORE COLLECTING AND EATING BIVALVES FROM ANY BEACH, TIDAL FLAT, ETC.

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