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Articles by Madeline Ross

Madeline Ross is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. Before moving to the land of brisket, she studied Italian food systems in Bologna and Rome. She now writes about Italy, food, and media issues. Follow her on Twitter.

Featured Article

Photo: Oyster Restoration Research Project

Oysters used to be so plentiful in NYC, you'd see piles of the shells on the sidewalks. (Photo by New York State Archives.)

While today’s New Yorkers gladly gulp down oysters in some of the city’s fanciest restaurants, many are unaware that the oyster trade used to be one of the most important industries in the area.

“Oysters were on every street corner the way that hot dog stands are today,” says Emily Driscoll, director of the new documentary, Shellshocked. “[They] were so ingrained in culture and society, then completely vanished in a couple of decades.”

The film, whose full title is Shellshocked: Saving Oysters to Save Ourselves, explores the crucial role these shellfish played in New York’s environmental and cultural past, as well as the movement to make a place for them in the city’s future.

Once upon a time, New York Harbor was lined with 300 square miles of oyster reefs (around 260,000 acres). Then, as now, the bivalves were threatened by pollution. In the early 1900s, typhoid and cholera outbreaks were traced to oysters from Staten Island and many oyster farms were shut down. Since then, t... Read more

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