Author of The Climate Diet
Cultivated in the clean, protected bays off northern Spain, our mussels naturally improve the quality of the water around them as they grow, providing a model of restorative ocean aquaculture. These plump, briny-sweet morsels make fine eating—and they’re rich in protein too.*
Nutrition: Small but Mighty
Mussels pack as many nutrients as large fish, with the added environmental benefits of being lower on the food chain.
A complete protein, mussels contain all the essential amino acids needed to support functions like building muscles and skin. They’re a good source of iron, which carries oxygen to the blood to help maintain your energy, and their levels of vitamin B-12, which keeps red blood cells healthy, are well off the chart. A serving of our mussels contains as much as 1000% of the daily value of this vitamin.*
*See nutrition information about each mussel product for cholesterol and sodium content.
Sourcing: A Spanish Tradition
Our Mediterranean mussels (Mytilus galloprovincialis) are cultivated in Galicia, Spain. They’re native to the region and naturally thrive there, thanks to upwelling from the Atlantic Ocean that brings in nutrients and phytoplankton, a natural food source.
In spring, mussel seeds (spat) are placed on 40-foot ropes in the Ría de Arousa, one of many protected bays along the Galician coast, and then suspended vertically from bateas, large wooden rafts. The rías keep the salinity level at around 34%, enabling the mussels to grow faster (8 to 9 months versus 13 months elsewhere). Once the mussels reach maturity, local family farmers haul them up for harvesting. Conservas Antonio Pérez Lafuente, a regional cannery in business for well over a century, steams the mussels, causing them to shed excess liquid that would dilute the seasonings in the can. Typically this broth would be discarded, but Pérez Lafuente adds some to each can, along with Mediterranean seasonings and extra-virgin olive oil. The result is less waste and a broth so delicious you can drink it straight from the can.
Enviro: Tiny Eco Warriors
Photo by Ken Etzel
Unlike other farmed fish or animals, mussels require no inputs from the farmer—no feeds, no fertilizers, no fresh water resources. But these humble little bivalves aren’t just a sustainable seafood option. They’re a restorative one.
Our mussels grow on ropes hanging from rafts (a). The thickly clustered ropes provide protected habitat for young fish and other ocean creatures (b), which ultimately results in a more abundant ocean. Mussels feast on a floating buffet of phytoplankton (c) and require no other food. A tiny intake siphon (d) draws water into the shell, where gills filter out the plankton along with other common elements in the water, like nitrogen and phosphorus. In excess, these two nutrients cause large algae blooms that fatally deprive other aquatic life of oxygen. So, by steadily releasing filtered water (e), mussels improve water quality for many other marine species. A single mussel can process 10 to 15 gallons of water per day.
Culture: Turning the Tide
Mussel and shellfish farming has supported the Galician village of Vilanova de Arousa for decades. Our mussels mark the beginning of a new, organic chapter in the area’s history.
In the early 21st century, large canning factories started leaving Spain for countries with cheaper workforces, threatening Vilanova de Arousa’s economy and way of life. Conservas Antonio Pérez Lafuente, a family owned canning company, decided to redouble its support of local farmers who grow and harvest mussels in the traditional way, working with the rhythm of the tides. “We decided that the only way to survive was focusing on what we had been doing for all our company history … local products, productions and lifelong traditional recipes,” says Juan Pérez Lafuente, whose family started Conservas Antonio Pérez Lafuente in 1892. The company, located not far from the rafts where the bivalves are harvested, was the first in the European Union to earn organic certification for its canned mussels.
Partners: Guided by Science
The farming of our mussels is overseen by CRAEGA, an organization created by the Spanish government to make sure that products in Galicia meet the European Union’s high organic standards.
European Union organic certification for aquaculture, established in 2009, sets comprehensive guidelines for mussels, including limiting the use of synthetic materials on the rafts and ropes to prevent chemical contamination; testing the waters for contaminants; and requiring mussel seed to be responsibly sourced. Mussel cultivators are also monitored to make sure that none of their methods harm other ocean or bird species. CRAEGA layers on its own set of requirements, like limiting the number of ropes and allowing only the native Mediterranean mussel species to be farmed in the waters of Galicia.
Our Mussels are packed in extra virgin olive oil and broth and come in three savory flavors: Lemon Herb, Savory Sofrito and Smoked.
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