Sunday, February 22, 2009

Oyster Insider

Name: Jimmy Smith
Occupation: Owner of The McIntosh Company, an oyster retailer named for its location on the western edge of the McIntosh community in Liberty County.

Why do you specifically want to sell Georgia oysters ?
"I’ve sold Texas, Louisiana and a few Alabama oysters and there’s no question about it – Georgia and South Carolina oysters are the best. Florida are second-best.
What makes Georgia oysters so good ?
"I guess it’s the marshes. That’s what I’ve always thought. We have much higher tides and marsh grass. The (oysters) here are hand-picked when the tides go out. In Texas and Louisiana, they’re dredged, and in Florida, they’re taken with tongs."
How’s business?
"Slow getting the word out. We’ve gotta get a sign out. But we’ve sold some. This time next year, I anticipate being able to sell gallons or pints. Maybe this season, but not likely.
How much do your oysters cost ?
$25 for a half bushel and $45 for a bushel. A bushel usually contains about 60 pounds. How many people will a bushel feed? "Two bushels will do a nice party of six to eight couples if they’re polite eaters. Some folks I know, two people could eat a bushel, but I won’t call ’em by name."
They say oysters can be dangerous. Why?
"Oysters can carry viruses and diseases if they’re not properly handled after coming out of the water. I recommend never eating a raw oyster. I recommend cooking them. I used to eat them raw, but I quit approximately 10 years ago because of water pollution."
If you get oysters from a reliable source and cook them, there’s very little danger. I don’t think there’s a tastier treat that comes out of the ocean."
What’s your favorite part of the job ?
"Meeting customers and doing the selling. Danny Eller goes into the river for the most part. He’s just starting to teach me what goes on in the water."
What’s your least favorite part of the job?
"Probably figuring out the red tape of getting here over about 20 years of time. The hopes and disappointments have been equally mixed. This is a dream that’s been over 25 years in the making, and I’m as happy and proud of it as I’ve ever been."

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