Georgia Pears grew up on the West Coast, plunging into the cold Pacific for oysters, and shucking them off the swim grid of her family boat. She refers to oysters as a complete food, packed with vitamins and minerals. She tells me with a smile, “These beautiful and nutrient dense shellfish not only clean the atmosphere, the coastal waters and prevent shoreline erosion, they are the greatest and most bioavailable source of zinc in the world, they are abundant, and have been around since before the dinosaurs. They truly are a super food.”
Georgia is passionate about the health industry and believes food can heal. Previously practicing law, she shifted her focus to her three daughters and continuously thinks about the world they are to grow up in. While pregnant with her third daughter, she started to learn about how ineffective synthetic vitamins were, and wanted to improve their nutrition through food sources. Oysters were top of the list as one of the richest food sources of vitamins and minerals. She looked for an oyster supplement, but was disappointed with the quality of options available. “I couldn’t find anything from Canada, and I live in Oyster Country!”, she exclaims.
Georgia is in the initial stages of research and development with support from the Seafood Business Accelerator (SBA) offered by the Centre for Seafood Innovation at Vancouver Island University. The connections and the collective experience have so far been invaluable. She aims to put a Canadian-made oyster pill on the market for all the benefits it offers anyone, not just those with a mineral deficiency. “And why can’t I?” she declares, this simple question is followed with, “that is one of the benefits of coming into the industry as a newbie — naivety.”
Most people have a mineral-deficient diet, claims Georgia, and could benefit from oyster supplements. But there are additional benefits to producing oyster pills such as using unmarketable oysters or other shellfish, and using currently discarded shells. Ideally there would be an element of up-cycling in the final product, which besides being Canadian made, would help to differentiate her.
Looking towards the future Georgia imagines the oyster pills to be available in health food stores or purchased directly online. Her excitement about the abundance and health benefits of this bivalve are infectious and developing a powerful brand story for her craft product is important. “I wasn’t planning on going into the natural health product industry or the seafood industry – I just personally wanted this product for myself and my family!”
This article was written by Josephine Olivier and published in the Seafood Business Accelerator Celebrating Spring 2023 Graduates Booklet.
Island Coastal Economic Trust is honoured to have been working in close partnership with the Centre for Seafood Innovation project on the Seafood Business Accelerator program valued at over $186,000. The Trust contributed $60,000 to the overall budget.