More Bivalves, Less Bovine

I’d like to give another brief preview of my final project:

Dan and Greg Martino are two brothers from Texas who somehow ended up on Martha’s Vineyard farming oysters. Turns out they’re also the first licensed commercial kelp farmers in the state of Massachusetts as well. And might I add that the oysters are delicious.

I won’t give away much more, but one thing I’ve learned is that oysters (and other bivalves) are better for the environment and help reduce your carbon footprint.

Here’s the breakdown:


Because of how cows digest food, they fart, a lot. Thanks to this process called  enteric fermentation, these farts are comprised of methane gas. In 2014, methane comprised 11 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, as reported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Agriculture alone is responsible for nine percent of emissions. In a report released by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, enteric fermentation accounts for 39 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural industry. And referring to the but of the joke, pun intended, over half of that 39 percent came from beef cattle.

And here’s how the Martino’s crunch the numbers for oysters:


Here is some neat #math: The #Carbon content of an oyster shell can be derived from the overall mass of the #oyster. #Oysters are generally sold to wholesalers unopened by the dozen. One dozen oysters weighs on average 1 kilogram (kg). This works out to 83.33grams (g) per oyster. However, as the oysters are unopened this 83.33g includes the meat. The #meat of a healthy oyster ranges from 12 – 15g, which equates to an average #mass of 13.5g. Subtracting meat weight from the total oyster weight gives an approximate #shell weight of 69.83g. The shell consists of the chemical compound Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3) as stated above. Using the #atomic weight of the #elements within this compound the amount of carbon within the shell can be calculated. Calcium (Ca) has an atomic weight of 40g; Carbon (C), 12g; and Oxygen (O), 16g (Serway, 1996). Therefore the overall molecular weight of CaCO3 is: 40+12+(3X16)=40+12+48=100g Therefore Carbon contributes 12g for every 100g of shell, or 12% of overall shell mass. It must be noted that this #equation does not take into account impurities in the shell such as trapped sediment and water. Average shell weight is 70grams so between 7 to 9 grams of Carbon Stored in each oyster shell. An average #farm produces 500,000 oysters a year. 500k Oysters with 7 grams of Carbon in each shell equals 3.5million grams or 3.85 tons of Carbon stored a year In oyster shells! The average #American produces 19 tons of Carbon a year. Ouch. Better start #eating our #Carbonfootprint! #cottagecityoysters #climatechange #science #education #themoreyouknow

A photo posted by cottagecityoysters (@cottagecityoysters) on Nov 4, 2016 at 6:31pm PDT

So step away from the burgers folks, pick up a po’boy instead.

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