By Emily Furness and Amy Wall
Falmouth Oyster Festival has kick-started, with promise of a weekend full of events and local produce. The festival celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
The festival aims to celebrate Cornish delicacies, including fresh seafood, patisseries and ales. It also prides itself on promoting smaller local business owners and traders such as The Cornish Seaweed Company and Newlyn Fish.
However, in recent years, there has been ambiguity surrounding the sourcing of produce sold at the festival, in particular the oysters.
Chris Ranger, a local oyster fisherman and advocate of Fal oysters set up his own pop up kitchen to promote locally sourced oysters and the importance of fishing sustainably.
He said: “65mm is the legal size of an oyster. My company is a producer and packager of Falmouth oysters. We are based in Mylor harbour. Everything is processed locally. I think this is a key aspect to my business and important to local seafood trade.”
Many visitors to the festival presume the oysters are dredged from the Fal estuary, with many traders supporting and promoting this idea, while others claim that the produce is sourced from the The Helford estuary and even as far a field as The Ex estuary, Devon.
Bobby Selfriff, a chef from St Michael’s seafood bar, claimed that all their produce is local, however proceeded to explain that their mussels are dredged from the river Ex which is in Devon, not Cornwall.
He added: “All our produce is from Matthew Stevens, which is based in New Lynn, St Ives. Anything we sell we always try to explain where it comes from; for example, our mussels and lobsters either come from Falmouth or the river Ex.”
This raises the question how close does produce have to be sourced for it to be branded truly local.