Oysters are a narrative food: in each shuck and slurp, an eater tastes the place where the animal was raised. But that's just the beginning. André Joseph Gallant uses the bivalve as a jumping-off point to tell the story of a changing southeastern coast, the bounty within its waters, and what the future may hold for the area and its fishers. With A High Low Tide he places Georgia, as well as the South, in the national conversation about aquaculture, addressing its potential as well as its challenges.
The Georgia oyster industry dominated in the field of oysters for canning until it was slowed by environmental and economic shifts. To build it back and to make the Georgia oyster competitive on the national stage, a bit of scientific cosmetic work must be done, performed through aquaculture. The business of oyster farming combines physical labor and science, creating an atmosphere where disparate groups must work together to ensure its future. Employing months of field research in coastal waters and countless hours interviewing scholars and fishermen, Gallant documents both the hiccups and the successes that occur when university researchers work alongside blue-collar laborers on a shared obsession.
The dawn of aquaculture in Georgia promises a sea change in the livelihoods of wild-harvest shellfishermen, should they choose to adapt to new methods. Gallant documents how these traditional harvesters are affected by innovation and uncertain tides and asks how threatened they really are.
André Joseph Gallant is an independent journalist whose writing has appeared in Oxford American, Gravy, Bitter Southerner, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Modern Farmer, Southern Cultures, Atlanta Magazine, and Civil Eats. He is the founding editor of Crop Stories, a literary journal exploring farm culture in the American South. He lives in Athens, Georgia.
"Gallant's ability to explain the biology/ecology of the Georgia seacoast oyster is remarkable for both its depth and understandability. Likewise, his introduction of a cast of strongly individualistic characters involved in this unique coastal culture is key to creating a rich and compelling story of place. Moreover, his descriptions of the physical power and beauty of the region create a fascinating world that is a pleasure for any reader to enter."
– James Beard, award–winning author of Victuals
"A salty treat."
– Red & Black
"Gallant has made a career of writing compassionately about the people who produce food [...] With A High Low Tide, his goal was to show a side of food production often omitted from articles on the subject: the science that goes into it and the delicate partnerships that exist between government agencies, universities, and laborers."
– Atlanta Journal-Constitution