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audreyhawkins

audreyhawkins

The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell - Mark Kurlansky Kurlansky examines the history of New York City through the lens of the oyster. That's right, New York used to have oysters - and delicious oysters at that! There's a bit of biology, but mostly it's the economics and the social history of what was a staple food here for both the rich and the poor. You wouldn't think developments in oystering and oyster-selling would be so rich, but it's amazing how the oyster interacts with and shapes so many facets of New York. Environmentally, it's a sad and predictable story: going from the natural abundance of the Hudson and East Rivers to their low point in the 1960's and 70's when GE was dumping PCB's into the Hudson river and the tomcod had cancer. Besides that, it's fascinating to read some history about where you live. New York is good at rewriting its physical self, but it's a fun exercise to walk around and try to peer into the past. I wish Kurlansky spent a bit more time on the second half of the 20th century and current developments because there are some really exciting ideas going around about bringing oysters back and letting them do their thing - clean the water. Sadly, they can't do anything about heavy metals and PCB's, but it would help various fish species that used to be here make a return.