This special looks at one of Earth’s most valuable resources: water, and the essential role it plays in food production. First, we visit the Choptank Oyster Company, where oyster grower Kevin McClarren is navigating challenges of low salinity after a year of unusually heavy rainfall, which makes it harder for oysters to multiply and grow. We learn how oysters are farmed and how too much rain lowers the salinity of the water, which not only hurts oysters, but changes their flavor as well.
Next, on a grain farm, if a field is too wet, farmers can install drainage tile to move water off the field and dry it out. These underground pipes help drain excess water so that crops can grow better, but there are environmental consequences. Enter a conversation drainage system, which helps both the farm and the environment through smart water and nutrient management.
Then we look at irrigation. Local farmers used over 20 billion gallons of water for crop production in 2015. That’s a lot of water! But rather than use water from lakes or underground aquifers, Kent County farmer Franklin Dill draws from an unconventional source: his local wastewater treatment plant. This puts to good use water that ordinarily would have no use, and it helps conserve other freshwater sources. Plus, it also helps his crops grow better.
Finally, “The Local Buy” segment host Al Spoler meets a waterman who fishes for eels, a delicacy unfamiliar to most. Al learns how to bait and catch eels, then visits The Salt Line restaurant in Washington, DC where chef Kyle Bailey serves up grilled eel.