Hard clams being held in open hands

Catch of the Day: Clams

posted by Veronique Koch on 26 March 2013

Today’s featured seafood are clams.
There are many species of bivalve that are farmed for food, but one species most commonly farmed in the United States are hard clams, (Mercenaria mercenaria). They are native to coastal lagoons and estuaries on the eastern shores of Canada to Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. However, 89% of the clams eaten worldwide are farmed.
Farmed clams are considered a good choice for sustainably farmed seafood. They are typically grown in mesh bags and left to filter feed (which can be beneficial to the waters they are farmed in) to make it easy for the clam farmers to bring them up. Alternate methods are to grow clams on the bottom, though this can be detrimental to the local habitat in the short term if they are not hand harvested, as dredging can damage the seafloor if it isn’t soft bottom.
Fun fact: hard clams have different names depending on their size, when they are served for food. The largest sizes are known as quahogs (also known as chowder clams), which can be 3 inches or 2 or 3 clams per pound, while the smaller sizes are countnecks (1 inch), littlenecks (1.5 inches or 7-10 clams per pound), topnecks (2 inches) and cherrystones (2.5 inches or 6-10 cherry stone clams per pound).
Since 1984, clam culture in Florida has been expanding rapidly, particularly in the Indian River Lagoon. PBS channel WPBT-2 did a show about clam farming in Florida for their series Changing Seas. You can watch the whole episode below:



Image source: Wiki Commons

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