Photo via BBC World Service
To celebrate the end of national seafood month, I wanted to provide a recipe for one of my favorite Louisiana seafood dishes that was created right here in New Orleans in 1889: Oysters Rockefeller. The only problem is that the historic flooding of the Mississippi River has wiped out this year’s oyster harvest, and Louisiana oysters are hard to come by. So instead, I’ve written a recipe for a brand new dish that I’m calling “Oysters Federal Inaction.”
- Oysters from the previously most productive oyster fishery in the country*
- 1 great flood that killed hundreds of people in 1927
- 300 million acres of wetlands
- 41 percent of the nation’s land, which drains into the Mississippi River
- 40 years of inaction on climate change
- A dash of prioritizing capital in New Orleans over surrounding areas
*If oysters have been wiped out by mismanagement and climate change, you may substitute invasive apple snails from South America that were released from aquariums during Hurricane Katrina. There’s no shortage of them.
- Fill in almost three-quarters of your nation’s wetlands that previously captured rainwater where it fell and filtered agricultural runoff. Don’t consider the impacts on water retention even though most of the wetlands filled in for agriculture and suburban development are part of the 41 percent of the country that drains into the Mississippi River.
- After a historic flood in 1927, levee off almost all of the Mississippi River from the headwaters to the Gulf of Mexico so that natural flooding upriver no longer occurs. Ignore how much more water is sent downstream during rainy seasons.
- As a species, learn almost everything there is to know about climate change in 1979. Do nothing about it because oil companies are paying you not to.
- When climate change causes more rain to fall, don’t have a plan for capturing it. You can just open your spillways downstream.
- If you do have to open your spillways, make sure to open the one that will damage fisheries rather than industrial facilities and expensive corporate farmland.
- When the freshwater kills all the oysters and other seafood, throw your hands in the air and declare it a “natural disaster.”
- Wait five years and hope your oyster reefs recover and that no other natural disaster, like more historic flooding, occurs between now and then.
- Pray that a hurricane doesn’t hit Louisiana and Mississippi because you don’t have oyster reefs to knock down the storm surge anymore.
- Watch in horror as an aging population of oyster harvesters possibly never recovers.
- Find something else to eat. East and west coast oysters are already three times the price of Louisiana oysters, and the price will likely increase as the demand goes up to replace what Louisiana used to provide.