Residents of southeastern North Carolina are lucky to live in a place where the state government not only recognizes the importance of fresh food, but also supports it through the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. Seafood is part of the North Carolina harvest. Pristine coastal waters provide an abundance of fresh fish and shellfish, and North Carolina Seafood is responsible for nurturing the health of the industry.

More than 100 edible species are taken off our shores. In the Cape Fear region, visitors frequently spot shrimp boats that are harvesting this delicacy off our barrier islands. The shrimp may wind up on your dinner plate at a local restaurant the same day they are caught. Many restaurants have peel and eat shrimp since that is a very popular dish.

Although many tons of fish are consumed here in North Carolina, the product is shipped to fine restaurants in many parts of the country, including New York City’s best restaurants. Other types of fish travel to processors outside our state who prepare it for shipment overseas.

One of the newer efforts is making a big difference with shellfish. Our shellfish aquaculture operations provide fine oysters, too. Several local towns provide recycling centers for clams and oyster shells that eventually are used to start new oyster beds. That program is proving to be a valuable tool not only in helping sustain the oyster population, but in cleaning our waters too since oysters, clams and mussels filter contaminants as they feed on sea water.

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture shows off the state’s bounty at events and online via its Goodness Grows in North Carolina and Got to Be NC programs. Watch the Wilmington Today website to find out where to buy local produce at farmers markets.

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