Is Climate Change Killing Happy Hour?

Publican Oysters on a half-shell at the bar

There Comes A Time In Our Lives when reality sets in, and we must come to terms with it. As I’ve entered my bougie era, where disposable income meets acquired taste, I have this little obsession called Happy Hour oysters. Within the last 30 days I have dined with my oyster-loving friends who don’t judge a book by its cover, or should I say a mollusk by its shell. Some of my favorite Chicago spots provide the fresh on-the-half shell, a splash of mignonette decadence that can only be experienced by those who choose. 

Unfortunately, our days of briny goodness are coming to an end. 

The unseen effects of climate change are slowly manifesting into our every day. What we thought was a simple transition from plastic to paper straws has now turned into life-or-death decisions. Global calamity has us wondering if it’s even safe to breathe the air, the very thing that sustains us. Now, our clouded hardheadedness is taking on happy hour. 

According to Food and Safety News, the Connecticut Department of Public Health has reported a Vibrio Outbreak due to the consumption of raw oysters and exposure to brackish waters. Vibrio is a species of bacterium naturally found in coastal waters. During the summer months, higher concentrations of these bacteria spread, causing foodborne illnesses in raw and undercooked seafood. The CDC states, a dozen of these species cause human illness, with Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Vibrio vulnificus, and Vibrio alginolyticus being the most common species in the United States. In Rhode Island, oysters harvested in Narragansett have been recalled due to the harvesting area’s potential risk. 

So what does this mean for the Happy Hour Oyster lovers? Well don’t just stand there, we gotta do something about this! Switch to clams instead. No, I’m kidding, do not do that. In all seriousness, I don’t have the answers and the way we dine is changing. We must rethink how we practice food sustainability with research and action. Someday, well save the seas and laugh about it over a seafood tower, until then slurp with caution.