Blue mussels go green

(NC)—Sustainability is a term we’re hearing more often in today’s environmentally conscious world. Increasingly, Canadians are examining what they eat, where it comes from and how the environment is affected by the foods they choose.

When it comes to seafood, farmed blue mussels are one of the greenest choices around. In fact, Monterey Bay Aquarium’s seafood watch program lists farmed mussels as a “super green” seafood product. Seafood Watch bases its selections on a variety of factors, including the fishery, habitat, species, management and other factors that affect each species, as well as their Omega 3 content.

“Nearly 75 percent of the world’s fisheries are fished to capacity, or overfished, but our seafood choices have the power to improve that situation,” says Linda Duncan, executive director of the Mussel Industry Council of North America. “Consumers are increasingly showing the power that they hold in demanding sustainable food choices. Each year we see more interest in sustainable blue mussels, grown naturally in their own environment,” explains Duncan. “They’re harvested by hand in Atlantic Canada and shipped fresh to your local restaurants and grocery stores.”

Mussels grow in abundance. Each female releases as many as 20 million eggs in the spring, which float in the ocean waves, get fertilized and then latch onto mussel farmers’ collector ropes, where they continue to grow to maturity as they would naturally.

Rope farming also helps improve the ocean environment by creating a man–made reef that improves biodiversity below it. Because mussels grow naturally, fuelled by nutrients found in the ocean, they will be available for many years to come.

“Consumers can feel good about choosing farmed, rope–cultured blue mussels because they’re choosing a food that is fresh, healthy and grows in abundance,” says Duncan. “Not only that, but mussels are grown and harvested in an extremely sustainable manner.”

Mussel farming also happens to be a sustainable industry when it comes to employment. Mussel farmers in rural communities have been growing and harvesting the shellfish for generations.

Their families depend on this type of farming, and the jobs associated with processing mussels.

“When you see fresh blue mussels in the supermarket, or order them at a restaurant, you’re supporting the individual farmers who work out on our northern waters all year round to harvest these shellfish. It’s a very traditional industry, one which depends on and supports environmental sustainability,” Duncan explains.

Mussels are a ‘super green’ food that offer tremendous health benefits. In addition to being low–fat, they’re an excellent source of protein, omega 3s, iron, zinc, vitamin C and B12.

Preparing blue mussels is easy and quick. Rinse them and add to a pot with 1/4 cup of liquid. Cover and steam for five to seven minutes. They can be spiced up for more elegant occasions, or served plain with butter and crusty bread for a weekday meal.

For information on Atlantic Canadian farmed blue mussels, their “green” sustainable growth and harvest, and for recipes packed with good nutrition, you can visit the Mussel Industry Council website ( Also featured on the website is a chance to win a trip for two to San Francisco.

Spicy Marinated Mussels

Number of servings: 8

Preparation time: 5 minutes


• 6 lb fresh cultured blue mussels

• 1 bay leaf

• 1 cup white wine

• 1 small onion, chopped

• 2 clove garlic, chopped

• 1 small hot pepper, seeded and chopped

• 1/4 cup shallots or green onions, chopped

• 1 small red pepper, chopped

• 1 small green pepper, chopped

• 2 tbsp fresh parsley, minced

• 1/2 cup white wine vinegar (marinade)

• 2 tbsp dijon mustard (marinade)

• 2 clove garlic, chopped (marinade)

• 1/4 tsp salt (marinade)

• 1/2 cup olive oil (marinade)

• 1 dash black pepper (marinade)


1. Stir the fresh blue mussels in a colander while rinsing in tap water. Set aside for a few minutes. Tap any that are open and discard those that don’t close in response to the tap.

2. Place all ingredients (not the marinade ingredients) in a large sauce pan with a lid and steam for 5 to 7 minutes until fresh blue mussels are steamed open (about 3 minutes).

3. Remove mussels, discarding any that do not open.

4. When cool, shuck mussels and place meats in a large serving dish. Combine above marinade ingredients in an air–tight container and shake vigorously to blend.

5. Pour over fresh blue mussels.

6. Refrigerate until ready to use.


Love seafood? Try:

Halibut with lemon, shallots and herbs
Fish favours fennel
Breaded Tilapia with Mango Salsa

Plus see what else is cooking in our in recipes archive.