Publisher’s Note: Oyster Odyssey

RIM publisher John Palumbo reflects on the bivalve's place at the Thanksgiving table.
Photography by Soozie Sundlun.

While there are many accounts about the first Thanksgiving, there are some basic facts that many historians agree upon:

• It celebrated the conclusion of a successful harvest, which boded well for food stock during the challenging New England winter ahead.
• The actual dates of the celebration are estimated to be between late September and early November and it was a three-day feast.
• The Pilgrims were joined by some ninety members of the Wampanoag tribe including chief Massasoit.
• The traditional glam shot of a Butterball with all the fixings is not quite true. It is reported that they likely ate fowl, deer, berries, fish, plums, boiled pumpkin and yes, shellfish.

Whether they were clams, oysters or quahogs, it does give some relevance to our cover story this month. “On the Half Shell,” by associate editor Jamie Coelho, takes a look at one of the fastest growing aquaculture crops in Rhode Island waters: oysters.

Now, if it’s too early to contemplate “the big feast” or to count down the days until you-know-what, take your mind off of it with contributing writer Phil Eil’s profile on our junior senator, Sheldon Whitehouse. Given the acrimony, division and debate in national politics (combined with the twenty-four-hour news cycle), we often hear, see or read about Senator Whitehouse’s crusade to bring attention to environmental issues.

A month or two ago, I was listening to a profile piece on NPR about Minnesota Senator Al Franken and his unusual path from “Saturday Night Live” to the hallowed halls of Congress. When asked who among his colleagues he considers a mentor, the first name he mentioned was Sheldon Whitehouse.

Enjoy the Rhode. –J.J.P.

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