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Ropes of mussels descend into the teal blue ocean in Northern Spain

Mussels

Rope-grown Mediterranean mussels in the Ría de Arousa, Galicia, Spain. Photo by Darcy Turenne

Cultivated in the clean, protected bays off Galicia, Spain, our EU Organic 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 and iron too.

An open can of Patagonia Provisions Mussels rests on a wooden table next to fresh vegetables, cheese, breadfruit crackers, and salmon

Nutrition: Small but Mighty

Lemon Herb Mussels and a smorgasbord of Breadfruit Crackers, cheese, and veggies. Photo by Amy Kumler

Mussels pack as many nutrients as large fish, with the added environmental benefits of eating 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 each serving delivers up to 1100 omega-3 fatty acids, which boost the nervous and cardiovascular systems. And their levels of vitamin B-12 are well off the chart—a serving of our mussels contains as much as 1000% of the daily value of this vitamin, which keeps red blood cells healthy.

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A worker leans off a wooden structure towards the sea, to check mussels ropes descending into the water

Sourcing: A Spanish Tradition

Checking the mussels ropes from the batea, or raft. Ría de Arousa, Galicia, Spain. Photo by Amy Kumler

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 Galician fjord of Ria de Arousa and then suspended from bateas, large wooden rafts. The fjords keep the salinity level at around 34%, enabling the mussels to grow faster (8-9 months versus 13 months elsewhere). Once the mussels reach maturity, local farmers then haul up and harvest them. Nearby Conservas Antonio Pérez Lafuente, a cannery in business for well over a century and our partner company, promptly seasons the bivalves using traditional Mediterranean recipes and techniques, and packs them in mussel broth and organic extra-virgin olive oil.

Workers wearing bright overalls work on a boat, winching mussel ropes up from the sea
To harvest mussels, each of the 40-foot growing ropes are winched up and stripped of bivalves. Photo by Amy Kumler
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Mussels growing on rope columns underwater

Enviro: Tiny Eco Warriors

Mussels growing in the Ría de Arousa, Galicia, Spain. Clustered on long underwater ropes attached to rafts (bateas), the mussels improve the health of the waters around them and provide habitat for other species.
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.

An illustration demonstrates how mussels filter ocean water
Illustration by Anna Baldwin
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A worker wearing fishing gear and head scarf smiles at the camera from the deck of a mussel raft

Culture: Turning the Tide

Carmen Juncal has been working the mussel rafts, or bateas, of the Ría de Arousa for her entire life. Galicia, Spain. Photo by Amy Kumler

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.

Close shot of mussels, just harvested from the ocean
The first step in processing the freshly harvested mussels: Sorting them for quality. Ría de Arousa, Galicia, Spain. Photo by Amy Kumler
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Ropes tied around red wooden beams descend into the sea

Partners: Guided by Science

Our mussels grow on long underwater ropes suspended from wooden rafts (bateas). As they grow, these filter feeders improve the health of the waters around them and provide habitat for other species. Ría de Arousa, Galicia, Spain. Photo by Amy Kumler

The quality 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.

Close shot of freshly harvested mussels
Freshly harvested Mediterranean mussels, Ria de Arousa, Galicia, Spain. Photo by Ken Etzel
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An open tin of Patagonia Provisions mussels on a cutting board with pieces of baguette, on a table beside two micheladas cocktails

Shop Mussels

Cocktail hour: Provisions Mussels straight out of the tin, with a couple of micheladas on the side. Photo by Amy Kumler

Our Mussels are packed in extra virgin olive oil and broth and come in three savory flavors: Lemon Herb, Savory Sofrito and Smoked.

A green ceramic bowl of fresh tomato, herbs, and penne pasta with Patagonia Provisions Lemon Herb Mussels

Delicious Recipes

Fresh Tomato Pasta with Lemon Herb Mussels. Photo by Amy Kumler