Author of The Climate Diet
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.
Nutrition: Small but Mighty
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.
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 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.
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 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.
Our Mussels are packed in extra virgin olive oil and broth and come in three savory flavors: Lemon Herb, Savory Sofrito and Smoked.
More About Seafood View All
Strange as it may sound, we believe harvesting and eating wild salmon in the right numbers, from the right places, can actually help save them.
Twenty-two years ago I abandoned civilization to follow whales.
I wonder if a vision of her life is passing before her as she lies here with that one unblinking eye staring up at the enormous trees overhead and the sunlit sky beyond them.
At night I dream of salmon gliding through heavy seas, turning toward a faint scent of their birth rivers; in brackish bays feeling the pull of lunar motion and a taste of sweet...
When you write about sustainability and seafood, you have to revisit your definition of sexy.
And essay from biologist, activist and co-founder of the Wild Fish Conservancy, Bill McMillan.
At Pérez Lafuente, mussels run in the family.
Liz Woody writes about how salmon were the first to teach us of wealth.
Bren Smith's article talks about the power of restorative ocean farming and delicious food grown for both people and the planet.
Jim Lichatowich is a fishery biologist and has spent the last 30 years working on Pacific salmon conservation.