Mussels – an important player
Today we know that we have overfished the seas. Most of the fish stocks are gone. It´s quite depressing. Especially considering that when I grew up in the 80´s, we got fresh cod for school lunch, and it was cheap. Fish-farming systems can weigh down the local ecosystems. In coastal areas, the high nutrient loads from them cause over-fertilization and dead sea floors. As with land farming, there are possibilities to create systems that are incorporated with the surrounding ones and create multilayered units with a large biodiversity. One can have a resilient system that can handle economic downfalls and diseases. Within farming above sea level, agroecology is a whole system practice and theory that views agricultural areas as ecosystems. It is vital with an approach to food, feed, and fiber production that balances environmental soundness, social equity, and economic viability among all sectors of the public, including international and intergenerational peoples, also producing for a culinary diversity.
The debate today often focuses on how to find new ways with in vitro meats and so on. Not so much about how we should use already existing crops and animals. When we talk about sustainability and food production, one might think we should create systems that do not weigh down the ecosystems. It is also important to see what is already there and can be developed in ways we haven´t done. Within the oceans we have mussels that we don´t eat so much of, but which are possible to increase the production of significantly. They are an important key when creating sustainable systems, because they filter water and can nurture on the excess nutrients from fish farming if they are a part of it.In a costal ecosystem mussels and their bivalve kin can be regarded as the gut. They can be an important player when doing integrated multi-trophic systems with salmon, mussels, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, and seaweeds. In systems like this, seaweed can absorb persistent inorganic nutrients and break down some parts of algae. They can also be used elsewhere, in cosmetics for example.
Mussels are so much more than moules frites. They can be used in other types of products, such as making a spread or maybe protein product like quorn .They are cheap, and we are not even close to the maximum capacity of farming them. In Sweden we produce about 2000 metric tons but could produce 50 000 metric tons. The monoculture of eating what we have is to a large degree an effect of the production systems that dominate. We mostly eat salmon, cod and shrimps. A larger variation are a necessity because the loss of biodiversity is one of the most urgent environmental issues both in wild ecosystems and farming.