Southern Foodways appears on Fridays as part of our collaboration with the Southern Foodways Alliance, an organization based in Oxford, Mississippi, that "documents and celebrates the diverse food cultures of the American South." Dig in!
In 2006, the Southern Foodways Alliance headed to Apalachicola, Florida, for a field trip. We were there for four daystonging for oysters, gathering Tupelo honey, casting shrimp nets, worm grunting, and, of course, eating well.
As always, we did more than a bit of talking with the folks who have built their lives and livelihoods in the Apalachicola Bay.
These people tell stories of the days when schools of mullet were thick in the water and when Tupelo honey was a local find, not a Hollywood star. More than fish tales and folklore, these are the stories of the men and women who have depended on the Apalachicola Bay for generations. They are stories from Florida’s Forgotten Coast.
Apalachicola Bay was hard hit by this summer’s drought. And those same folks who were kind enough to share their time, their talent, and their community with us are suffering. Water in the bay is at an all-time low. So are the oyster beds which are the lifeblood of the region.
Next week, the governors of Florida, Alabama, and Georgia will be meeting with federal officials to decide the future of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river ecosystem. As the southeastern U.S. continues to experience a record drought, the governors, in negotiations with federal agencies, have wrestled with setting the flow of water that will eventually reach rivers like the Apalachicola River and Apalachicola Bay, an issue which affects the entire Gulf of Mexico.
The health of the coastlines of Alabama and Florida are tied to the health of the seafood industry, wildlife, tourist economy, and future of the entire Gulf of Mexico. The precedent set here in terms of how much clean water ultimately reaches the beaches and estuaries of the Gulf of Mexico affects everyone in the Gulf region.
Please take a few moments and send a message directly to the governors of Alabama, Florida, and Georgia as well as U.S. Interior Secretary Dick Kempthorne. Let them know that the Gulf of Mexico matters, and that our region's future is in their hands.
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