|Weekday regatta at Mattapoisett Harbor|
|Light at Mattapoisett|
|Authentic New England clambake at the Marion VFW|
|He ate four quarts--and flashes me a four to prove it|
|A volunteer rakes the seaweed--still the same seaweed, the same rocks|
Now people sit on their asses and watch television. Play computer games. Mess with the internet on their smart phones. We shop at big-box stores. We don’t go wade for quahogs or check lobster traps. We don’t dig kelp and rocks to prepare food on a beach. We buy bargain chicken grown in factory farms, chickens that can’t walk, that never see the light of day. I’m one of them—don’t get me wrong. Maybe we’ve gained something—freedom, Wikipedia—but we’ve lost a lot too.
Not that the seafood’s necessarily any better than farmed meat. Grillabongquixotic doesn’t eat seafood for ethical reasons, after seeing firsthand the way the ocean’s been fished out. These new fishing shows (Wicked Tuna, Dangerous Catch) glorify the fishermen out there, but ignore the quantities being taken and the dwindling fishery. Scientists estimate that human beings have already reduced the population of big fish in the ocean to 10 percent of what it was in 1950. We’ve eaten 90 percent of the fish that we had. Already in Massachusetts, bay scallops, the sweetest of the shellfish, are gone. This used to be the only place in the world where you could eat them. Now there is not enough sea grass to support their reproductive cycle. How many years till there aren’t any clams?
Some people eat meat and don’t eat fish—better to eat factory-farmed meat than fish out our remaining wild food. But then some people don’t eat beef for ethical reasons. Cattle emit methane (methane could provide electricity for us, I argue, but no one listens) and are grown on factory farms. Chickens and eggs and hogs are problematic, too, with the vast pools of toxic waste their production manufactures.
In Thailand, I met a traveler from Peru. He didn’t eat soybeans or any soy product. He refused to. He’d seen the forest in Peru being clearcut for soybean fields. It was the first time I’d seen someone who ate meat, but not tofu, for ethical reasons.
So in August we ate our clams, bottom feeders, and we’ll keep eating them until they’re gone, I suppose—until the New England coast is remade by aquaculture. Aquaculture and algae are among the few things that can save us from climate change, I believe. Offshore wind and algae farms, with oysters and shellfish beneath the surf for protein. Delicious, nutritious, and good for the planet.
Plus there’s all that butter.
August is a good month to spend in Massachusetts. But now it’s September, and already it’s getting colder, the trees tinged with red. Now it’s September, and as House Stark like to remind us, winter is coming. Winter is coming, and with it the cold.