The Guinness Oyster Festival takes place in Red Bank Sept. 30th (see below for details) and if you're planning to eat oysters, here are some cool things about them you might want to know!

There will be tons of oysters at the Red Bank Guinness Oyster pints of Guinness, lighter beers and wine, live music, and great food. It's coming up on Sunday, Sept. 30th, Noon - 7 pm, in the White Street parking lot. $5/person (children 10 and under are free.) Football fans can even watch the game during the festival in the Tito's RV, and there will be lots of stuff for the kids to do including a children's petting zoo, kiddie rides, and crafts.

Here are some fun facts about the oysters you will be eating:

-- First of all, there is NO scientific truth that oysters are an aphrodisiac!

-- Oysters are very nutritious. One serving (approximately 4 yummy oysters) supplies about 5 grams of protein. They're also high in calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin B-12. zinc, iron, and they are cholesterol free.

-- What about those pearls? First of all, natural pearls are extremely rare and DON'T grow in the types of oysters that we eat. But in case you didn't know how pearls form inside an oyster, it happens when a foreign substance like a grain of sand slips in-between the oyster's body and its shell. This is uncomfortable for an oyster, so it covers the irritant with layers of mother-of-pearl (called nacre), which is the same substance it uses to build its shell. This eventually forms a pearl. Nacre is similar to saliva, so you wouldn't be wrong to say that a pearl is just a very good-looking spitball!

(Oyster farm, photo courtesy of NJ Sea Grant)
(Oyster farm, photo courtesy of NJ Sea Grant)

-- Forget the old adage that you should only eat oysters during months that contain the letter "R'. Thanks to developments in food science and safety, farmed oysters are now good to eat YEAR ROUND. The reason that you had to be more careful long ago is because 1. there wasn't good refrigeration back then and, 2. since wild oysters reproduce in summer, leaving them alone during 'R-less' months allowed them to spawn in peace. when spawning, wild oysters turn mushy and some say much less tasty, too. But today, strict consumer protections are in place, plus scientific research has given us oysters that are disease-resistant and non-reproducing (like seedless watermelons and cucumbers.) And  since these farmed oysters never spawn, they don't get 'mush' during the summer.

-- Our local waterways used to be loaded with oysters. The New York Harbor and Raritan Bay once contained nearly half of the WORLD'S oyster population! Up until the late 1800s, oysters were so plentiful and cheap in NYC that they were sold from pushcarts on the streets the way hot dogs are today.

-- -- Oysters are nature's Brita filter. Each day, a healthy oyster filters about 50 gallons of water. At that rate, a 1-acre oyster reef cleans enough water to fill 36 Olympic-sized swimming pools!

For more info on sea life (both edible and not!) at the Jersey Shore, CLICK HERE!

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