Tuesday, October 4, 2011

From the Bay, For the Bay

by Samantha Grieder
Capital Cooking Contributor

Oysters. They taste great. They're good raw, fried, and even hot off the grill.

Blackened flounder at Matchbox, Chinatown
But did you know that just one mature oyster is able to filter 50 gallons of water every single day? It's no wonder that working to restore populations in the bay will also help improve the general health of other bay inhabitants. And that's exactly what the non-profit Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) is trying to do.

Through October 9th, many District restaurants are pairing up with the ORP in an effort to restore and re-establish oyster reefs in the Chesapeake Bay. It's going on now, and it's called From the Bay, For the Bay.

Each participating restaurant, from Baltimore and Annapolis to D.C. to Alexandria, will have at least one Maryland seafood dinner on special. From that, $1 from each dish ordered will be donated to the ORP.

For every $50,000 raised, the organization can recycle 1,500 bushels of shell from restaurants and produce 5 million oysters to place back into the Bay.

Used oyster shells from restaurants will be sent to the University of Maryland to be recycled. Engineers will attach baby oysters ("spat") to the shells for grow in a natural environment. Once completed, the baby oysters are placed back into the Chesapeake.

In 2011, the ORP will have planted 510 million oyster spat on shell over an impressive 315 acres, but the organization is looking to do more.

Maryland lump crab pizza from Matchbox, Chinatown
For the rest of the week, head out to one of the many participating restaurants in the D.C. metro area and order a Maryland seafood dinner, specially prepared for this fundraiser. If you wish to go a bit further, feel free to make a monetary donation.

From the Bay, For the Bay is a program that helps promote Maryland seafood, aids fishermen, and feeds your stomachs while putting oysters back into the Bay. And to help, all you have to do is go out to dinner. D.C. participating restaurants include favorites such as 1789, Cashion's Eat Place, Equinox, Graffiato, Matchbox locations, Old Ebbitt Grill, The Source, Watershed, and plenty more. Find your favorite or one near you, and help the cause! Every shell makes a difference.

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