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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to

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Grady Leavins

Leavins Seafood

Grady Leavins is a self-made man. Growing up in rural Bagdad, Florida, he sought out opportunity at every turn. He spent a couple of years at a community college, but he was anxious to work. He worked part time at the Arizona Chemical Research and Development Laboratory in Panama City. He commuted to Apalachicola to work extra hours harvesting oysters. In 1976 Grady moved to Apalachicola. Living there, he immediately recognized opportunity in the oyster industry. He started small, but he was soon selling the oysters that he caught all over the state of Florida. He saw even more opportunity when he opened his own seafood house. With his laboratory experience under his belt, he helped develop a new way to package oysters. His “Frosted Oyster” is an oyster that has been flash-frozen and automatically shucked, using liquid nitrogen. Although he came into the industry as an outsider, Grady has earned the respect of his employees, his neighbors, and his peers. Today he is among those leading the industry in production and innovation. And he is just getting started.

Date of interview:
2006-01-09 00:00

Amy Evans

Amy Evans

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


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