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Sustainable Seafood

Love is in the Ocean

What's the deal with aphrodisiacs?

Photo: nicoleleec / flickr
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Name That Aphrodisiac

Can you identify this sexy (and questionable-looking) seafood?

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  1. What am I?
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    Sea Cucumber

    Think they look weird? Looks are just the start. Some species of sea cucumber discharge sticky threads as a defense mechanism, while others violently contract their muscles and squirt INTERNAL ORGANS out of their anus. Lovely.
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    Oyster

    Perhaps the most famous of all aphrodisiacs. If you didn’t get this one right, you should probably take a long, hard look at yourself. (Just kidding, you’re still great).
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    Geoduck

    Famously served to Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge during their 2016 tour of Canada, the Geoduck (pronounced Gooey-duck) is a species of saltwater clam, with a long neck that looks a lot like… well, something else.
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    Uni

    Yep, that’s right this is uni, aka the gonads of a sea urchin. Yum.

The Amorous Oyster

How the legendary aphrodisiac got its (scientific) groove on.

Photo: Varin / flickr
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Talk The Talk

Do you speak oyster? You do now.

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Love Shouldn't Cost the Earth

Sexy? Maybe. Sustainable? No. Keep these aphrodisiacs off your plate...

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  2. Sharks

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  3. Seahorses

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  4. Types of Caviar

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  1. Sea Turtle Eggs
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    Sea No Evil

    Certain cultures believe that sea turtle eggs are an aphrodisiac. No, they're not. Yes, eating sea turtle eggs and trading in them are illegal. Steer clear.
  2. Sharks
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    Saints and Finners

    The wasteful and unsustainable practice of shark finning (slicing off the dorsal fin while the animal is still alive) is endangering many species. There's no bigger turnoff than that.
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    Horsing Around

    There is no proof that eating pregnant male seahorses cures impotence as some culture believe. The research does show that unsustainable harvesting of these so-called aphrodisiacs is taking a severe hit on population numbers.
  4. Types of Caviar
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    Not Always Eggs-cellent

    Fish eggs might scream “oooh, sexy” to some, but only certain varieties of caviar should be on the menu. Check out the Ocean Wise Sustainable Seafood list here for more details.
Photo: incidencematrix / flickr

Spotlight: Jenice Yu

She's been in the fishing industry since she was a girl. Now she owns her own sustainable seafood supply business, sourcing and selling the finest Ocean Wise seafood caught by Canadian fishermen.

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The Wonderful World of Uni

Trying sea urchin gonads fresh off the boat is quite the experience.

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Be Seafood Smart

Keep our oceans healthy and flourishing: always make sustainable choices.

Photo: Meighan Makarchuk

Share the love (and this story) with the world

Photo: nicoleleec / flickr
Photo: Meighan Makarchuk

Two thousand years ago, the Roman Emperor Vitellius gorged on a thousand oysters in one sitting. That slurp fest went down in history, sealing the bivalve’s fate as an aphrodisiac for the ages. Casanova also played a part. Every morning, the world’s most famous lover ate 50 oysters on the half-shell supposedly to boost libido.

The thirst for a love drug stretches back thousands of years of human history and spans all varieties of animals, foods and cultures. In Asia, tiger penises and rhino horns are favoured. In North America, the drug of choice is a little blue pill called Viagra.

Some say that avocados, bananas, red wine and chocolate amp the love juice, while scientists continue to maintain that there’s simply no proof. But the masses don’t need scientific proof; it’s enough to trust Casanova’s morning regimen.

“In the oyster’s case, the delicate folds evoke female anatomy.”

The whole concept of an aphrodisiac tends to ignore the fact that sexual desire is complicated and individualized. To make a shopping analogy: boosting one’s sex drive is like buying the perfect pair of jeans, not a one-size-fits-all Snuggie. And yet, we still long for a quick fix. 

A food’s appearance plays a big part in earning it aphrodisiac status. (Just look at the attention the banana’s phallic shape has garnered over the years.) In the oyster’s case, the delicate folds evoke female anatomy and the act of slurping one down is more than enough to get the gutter-minded in the mood. 

Crassostrea Gigas, Photo: Pierre Dow
Photo: Pierre Dow

In 2005, the oyster received an unexpected nod from the scientific community when a team of American and Italian researchers discovered a link between oysters and sexy time. 

After the study was published in The Biochemical Journal, one researcher found himself inundated with journalists, all clamoring to report that the oyster was the real deal.

But there’s a hitch: the study didn’t even include oysters. It showed that octopuses, cuttlefish, and squids, related to oysters, have an amino acid in their eyeballs that has been shown to increase hormones in lab rats. That’s a tenuous link at best and raises the still-unanswered question: are oysters actually an aphrodisiac?

The answer is a resounding maybe. If the oyster raises your heart rate a few clicks, order a dozen and call them an aphrodisiac. But don’t expect the science to back you up just yet. 

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I watched the best fish being shipped overseas for top dollar. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a fishmonger so that I could make the seasonal bounty of our local waters available for everyone.

Jenice Yu

Do you know where your fish comes from? Unless it is coming from a fishmonger who really cares about quality, chances are that it was probably caught too long ago.

Jenice Yu

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