Fairhope, Alabama is a small town located on the shores of Mobile Bay, and it has a long and storied history of oyster harvesting. Memoriist Rick Bragg has described the forgiving soil along the bay's stretch of brown sand, and since then, the Mobile Oyster Company has seen its harvests double every season. The oysters from this area are highly sought after, and can be found in acclaimed restaurants from Oxford Snackbar to the Hot & Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, the Kimball House in Atlanta, and the Peche in New Orleans. In this modern age, it is quite remarkable to realize how little the oyster industry has changed over time.
In Alabama, it is not possible to make a living solely by harvesting oysters, and this is also becoming increasingly difficult in Apalachicola. The origin of the name of the Murder Point oysters is an interesting story. In 1926, a man took the life of another person for the rights to collect oysters on a strip of lowland near the Brent farm. This area is now known as Murder Point.
Crockett became involved in oyster farming as a volunteer for an oyster reef restoration project in Mobile Bay in 2000. Eggs from hatcheries are deposited in old oyster shells in the laboratory and then placed back in the bays, where they sink to the bottom and are taken over by nature. The oysters can be taken out of their baskets and passed through a glass or metal drum that rattles them and makes them roll around. This helps them expand downward instead of outward. Working closely with Steel City Seafood, a distributor in Birmingham, Rackley delivers oysters that are only three days old (at most) to its customers.
Farms can let their oysters rest in different depths of water, which can affect flavor thanks to salinity ranges and food sources. Deepwater farming could be part of a solution to the problems that are decimating other oyster fisheries, such as those in Apalachicola Bay, Florida. Ricciardone began raising oysters on his dock as part of an Auburn University reef replenishment project. Bell got involved when he asked her to stay and see the oysters one summer while he was out of town. Cullan Duke's Mobile Oyster Company and its Dauphine Island oysters also top many of the favorite lists.
The author praised the quality of the oysters found in Mobile Bay, particularly those from Bon Secour which has been a fishing community since the 18th century. Rackley helped found Oyster South, an organization dedicated to raising awareness about Southern oysters and oyster farming. Fisher, Bancroft, Zirlotts and Crockett are all members of this organization.