Oyster appeal lost on me


There are those who love oysters and there are those like me on whom the appeal of oysters is lost.

If you’re in the first camp you’ll be delighted to know that the season which opened last week is expected to be a good one:

They’re big, they’re juicy and they’re here.

About 180,000 Bluff oysters, 15,000 dozen, were dredged in Foveaux Strait yesterday on the first day of the oyster season.

Bluff Oyster Management Company spokesman and Barnes Oysters manager Graeme Wright said skippers were happy with the first catch and the haul was as good as last year.

The oysters tasted “bloody good” and were quite large, he said.

Eleven oyster boats went out and early indications were it could be a healthy season, Mr Wright said.

Oystermen spent the first day combing the large area looking for good spots, he added.

“So far it’s looking pretty good but the weather wasn’t pleasant on the strait”. . .

I won a dozen oysters in a National party raffle last year but they weren’t wasted – my farmer had his own share and mine.

It helped him get over an incident a few weeks earlier when I’d noticed the use-by date on a pottle of oysters had passed and gave the last couple to the dog.

Rural round-up


Mount Linton improves ewes’ genetics – Shawn McAvinue:

Dag-laden sheep should be nervous when sheep genetics manager Hamish Bielski enters their paddock on Mt Linton station.

“I want marbles and handgrenades, instead of slops and plops,” he said.

He looks at the lambs’ faecal consistency twice a year, once in autumn and when they are one year old. . .

Kaiwhakahaere used a “Garry Owen” – Gravedodger:

This week I attended the biennial get together  of the High-Country section of Federated Farmers, this year hosted by the Marlborough area centered on the Middle Clarence Valley.
The commencement was at the Kahautara River on Highway 70 and kicked off by current chair, Graeme ‘Stumpy’ Reid. . .

Investment firms eyes southern dairy farms – Shawn McAvinue and Alan Wood:

 A new investment company is looking to buy “attractive” dairy farms in the south.

The dairy farms would be part of an investment fund that opened to investors yesterday.

Investors can buy into the Pastoral Dairy Investments fund with a minimum commitment of $20,000, plus fees. . .

Pig power proves promising:

There’s a new, unlikely energy source that can power farms while reducing greenhouse gas emissions – pig poo.   

A team of scientists at NIWA in Hamilton has developed a system that stores greenhouse gases from pig manure in a deep pond, from where it can be used as an energy source.   

NIWA research engineer Stephan Heubeck said the system reduces greenhouse gases in the atmosphere while providing an alternative source of energy . . .   

Protocol frustrates export of apples – Che Baker:

Apple exports from Central Otago to Australia will not go ahead this year after “excessive” biosecurity protocols have made exporting to the country uneconomic.

Pipfruit New Zealand director and Ettrick apple grower Stephen Darling said despite a 90-year ban on apple exports from Australia being lifted in 2010, the fruit would not be exported from the region this year.

Trial supports DCD’s environmental value – Gerald Piddock:

New research has confirmed the effectiveness of the nitrification inhibitor dicyandiamide (DCD) as a tool to reduce environmental impacts of pastoral farming.

The three-year nitrous oxide mitigation research (NOMR) trials commenced in autumn 2009.

They were conducted in the Waikato, Manawatu, Canterbury and South Otago dairy regions. . .

Boysenberry growers call it quits after continuing losses – Peter Watson:

The country’s two biggest boysenberry growers have quit the Nelson-based industry after another season blighted by bad weather and a high New Zealand dollar.

Their withdrawal means not only the loss of export income, but the end to hundreds of seasonal jobs which local people, particularly students, relied on to supplement their income.

Both Ranzau Horticulture and Berry Fields have started pulling out about 80 hectares of vines, although an existing grower is to take over 23ha of the Berry Fields’ fruit on McShane Rd and another is interested in running its pick-your-own operation.

Ngai Tahu wants to farm more fish species – Penny Wardle:

Ngai Tahu Seafoods Resources plans to add new species to its 14 hectare Marlborough Sounds mussel farm.

The Christchurch-based iwi-owned firm has applied to the Marlborough District Council for resource consents covering its plans to farm king salmon and hapuku, trial 13 New Zealand fish species and to grow algae and seaweeds at its Beatrix Bay marine farm in Pelorus Sound.

The company intends to grow fish, shellfish and seaweed together to improve production while reducing environmental impacts. Scallops and dredge and pacific oysters as well as mussels are covered in its existing consent. . .

Oysters on lunch menu – Shawn McAvinue:

Skippers say they look great and the first few hundred dozen oysters in from Bluff will be flown up to the Dockside restaurant in Wellington for lunch. And, so the oyster season has begun in what has been tipped to be a bumper year.

The first oyster boat got in to Bluff at 5.05am before heading back out . . .

Dairy Farms could save energy: study:

New Zealand dairy farms could achieve cost-effective annual      energy savings of at least 68.4 million kilowatt hours (kWh) in the dairy shed, the results of a pilot programme show.   

That was a 10% reduction and equivalent to the annual electricity use of about 7100 households. Individual farms could cut milking-shed electricity consumption by 16%, and a      post-pilot survey showed 46% of farmers would adopt savings technologies if their costs could be recouped within three years.  

Rabbits still a problem – Gerald Piddock:

Rabbit numbers in the eastern Mackenzie Basin have increased post-Christmas, the Canterbury Regional Council says.

The concerning area is 12,000ha and encompasses seven adjoining high country properties, Environment Canterbury (ECan) biodiversity team leader Brent Glentworth said.

The increase could have resulted from the high levels of vegetation this season caused by the wet spring and summer. . .

Has best-by reached its use-by date?


The delights of oysters are lost on me.

Some food takes several tries before you acquire a taste for it but the strength of my dislike at my first taste of an oyster was such I’ve never bothered to try one again.

When they’re so expensive and those who like them really, really like them it would be stupid to waste them on me.

No oysters are a good oysters to me which means that I am not the best judge of whether or not they’ve have gone off. When I discovered some when cleaning out the fridge in our crib in Wanaka and noticed they’d reached their use-by date I sought the advice of friends who were visiting.

All were sure that the use-by date for oysters should be taken seriously so I threw them out.

When I got home later that day, my farmer who’d left Wanaka before me, asked if I’d found the oysters and brought them with me.

He was less than impressed when I said yes to the first part of the question and explained my no to the second part.

Had it been a best-by date I would almost certainly have ignored it and left it to him to do the look-and-smell-test but I take use-by dates seriously.

The distinction between the two is however, lost on many people:

Economist Richard Denniss, executive director of the Australia Institute, said yesterday its survey of New Zealand households found each threw out about $450-worth of food a year.

This equates to a national figure of about $751 million of food being discarded annually. . .

“Whether it’s because it was off, or people just didn’t like the look of it, we don’t know,” Dr Denniss said.

“We know best-before dates for some people are an indicator that they should be cautious, and for others they are a deadline they wouldn’t possibly cross.”

“Milk and yoghurt don’t become poisonous the day after the best-before date. It’s possible to put your nose in and determine whether they are still okay or not. We found younger people in particular, and also higher-income people, pay more attention to the best-before dates.”

He said shoppers needed more information about the health consequences of food spoilage.

“The consequences of processed meat going off are quite different to the consequences of milk going sour.”

Best-by and use-by dates are relatively new.

We used to use our eyes, noses, tastebuds and judgement to determine whether on not food was safe to eat.

Given the danger and costs of food poisoning, to the sufferer and potentially employers and the health system, use-by dates on food which could cause problems are sensible.

But a produced-on date for other food would leave it up to consumers to use their senses, and sense, to determine if it was safe to eat.

That might save some waste and make it more likely use-by dates were taken seriously.

That would not, however, be enough to convince my farmer that I was right to throw out the ones  he left in Wanaka.

What next?


So far this year we’ve had floods, severe snow storms, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake followed by hundreds of aftershocks,  kiwifruit canker and a fatal explosion in a coal mine.

That’s more than enough but now a mystery disease is killing off oysters and forecasts of a  La Niña summer are heralding drought.

What next – a plague of locusts?

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