The Cry of an Oyster

Say you find yourself in the awkward position of having more raw oysters than you can eat. Should you simply throw them out and let them dry to death, or should they somehow be put out of their misery first?

That was the question on Apartment Therapy: The Kitchen recently. A reader wrote in with a dilemma: “I realize that I didn’t have any problem shucking and swallowing them alive, but is it cruel to just throw the extra oysters away and let them dry to death?”

I’ll steer clear of debates over the soul of an oyster, but it seems uncertain as to whether oysters are capable of feeling pain, particularly after being doused with mignonette.

While the Apartment Therapy staff is busy researching the matter, readers are weighing in with their opinions.

Is letting them die of dehydration worse than letting them die in your stomach?

The oyster is going to die some day whether you eat it or not, minimizing suffering is the important thing…. Perhaps you could set up an aquarium and keep the survivors as pets and study how long they could live and maybe have one grow a pearl.

Wasting perfectly good food is more unethical than your touchy-feely dilemma. Good god, their death in the garbage couldn’t be any less horrid when they are drowning in your gastric juices.

But it seems there is an answer to this particular ethical conundrum. The wife of a former oyster farmer writes:

Once you’ve shucked an oyster, you basically kill it. They are alive in their shells, but when opened, they are killed. When you eat raw oysters, they are just that—raw, but not alive.

Whew, I’m glad we solved that one. I was beginning to worry about all of our souls.

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