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Farm Project Will Raise Edible Shellfish in San Francisco Bay Area

December 19, 1985|DANIEL P. PUZO | Times Staff Writer

The green and gray silt of the San Francisco Bay's southern stretches is one of Northern California's least scenic locales. This glaring lack of natural beauty is particularly true during low tides when mud and sludge form a distinctive ring around the shallow bay.

Nevertheless, breathtaking views are not a requirement for a recently announced venture intended to make the area an important source of shellfish. The project involves devoting as many as 8,000 acres of the bay to a farm that will begin commercially growing oysters, clams and mussels, according to a report of the program in Aquaculture Digest magazine.

The farm will be operated by the Morgan Oyster Co., a subsidiary of Ideal Basic Industries of Denver. In fact, the plan marks the firm's return to the bay after an absence of several decades. More than 70 years ago, Morgan raised and sold about $10-million worth of oysters from the area, according to the magazine's account.

Officials from the state's Department of Fish and Game are overjoyed that the Hayward and Fremont portion of the bay will become useful for more than just growing algae. Aquaculture Digest reports one marine resources official as saying: "The potential is tremendous. This could really put San Francisco Bay on the map as a good oyster producing area."

Despite the optimism, there remains a slight drawback about eating bivalves grown within earshot of San Francisco International Airport. Those oysters eventually raised to market size within the newly announced project, will be removed from the bay and trucked to "cleaner water, where they will cleanse themselves naturally in three to nine days" before being sold, according to the Aquaculture Digest.

New Trend; Old Habits--Much has been made of dietary and restaurant fads which have incorporated increasing amounts of fruit and vegetables onto the nation's dinner tables. The proliferation of genetically designed baby or miniature vegetables has also led to this lastest celebration of produce.

Appearances in this case, however, are deceiving.

A recent report by the federal government surprisingly shows that Americans ate more produce per capita in 1950 than in 1984. For instance, statistics provided by the Food and Drug Administration reveal that 214.2 pounds of vegetables were consumed per person in this country during 1950. The figure for last year shows that the consumption rate was only 209.2 pounds per capita.

The numbers for fruit provide an even wider disparity between the two years. In 1950, Americans ate 150.5 pounds of fruit per person while last year the figure was 142.9 pounds.

The odd disparity between the two eras is explained by the agency as being the lingering result of World War II. In 1950, the nation was still recoving from the war's austerity, a time when meat and other foods were rationed. As Americans became more affluent, the consumption of vegetables suffered because of a growing preference for meat.

During the 24-year span covered by the study, 1965 proved to be the low-point for produce. Per capita consumption of vegetables dropped to 181.5 pounds while fruit slid to 126.7 pounds.

Other indications of the nation's changing appetite are that whole milk and egg consumption are at a 24-year low. Conversely, yogurt, chicken, soft drinks and sweetener consumption are at record highs.

Plastic Versus Paper--When last seen sparring, the archrival paper and plastic industries were doing battle over which commodity will form the bag in which shoppers carry home the groceries.

While that skirmish temporarily subsides, another contest between the two has reached a critical stage. For the past few years, the Paperboard Packaging Council has been running advertisements which are highly critical of milk sold in plastic containers.

The paper trade association claimed in its newspaper and magazine advertisements that the plastic containers could not prevent ultraviolet light from coming in contact with the milk. The $2-million ad campaign quoted several university studies which seemed to indicate that the flavor and nutritional content of milk was negatively affected by just such exposure.

These conditions were said to be particularly acute in supermarket dairy cases that are illuminated by fluorescent lights, which produce considerable ultraviolet rays.

The Society of the Plastics Industry brought legal action against its competitor, claiming that the studies used to support the accusations were inaccurate.

A federal district judge in Washington recently ruled in favor of the plastics industry and called for a halt to the paperboard campaign calling the ads misleading and the studies quoted as irrelevant.

The plastics industry commands about 70% of the milk container market versus only 30% for paperboard.

Wine and Physicians--A potentially controversial passage on the purported medicinal effects of wine is found in a pamphlet called "Wine and Medical Practice." The booklet is published by the Wine Institute, a San Francisco-based trade association, and is supposedly distributed "only to the medical professional." The passage is contained in a foreword by Russel V. Lee, professor emeritus, from the Stanford University School of Medicine. It states:

"Every remedy which has the potential for good can also do harm. Morphine and aspirin, table salt and water, used in excess can do great harm. This is true of wine. And because its taste is so pleasant and its effects so salubrious, abuse is possible but, fortunately, not too common. This should not negate our proper appreciation of its benefits, which are many.

"Taken all in all, wine is a sovereign remedy for many ills and an important addition to the joy of living."

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