Top Eco-Friendly Erotic Eats
Oysters, mussels, and clams
Whether because of their yonic appearance, high protein content, or sensuous texture, oysters and their cousins, mussels, clams—cherrystones, littlenecks and quahogs—are always in demand for romantic dinners. Happily, they’re among the most sustainable sources of animal protein.
Many kinds of seafood are farmed unsustainably, over-fished, or caught in ways that kill by-catch (other sea life that’s captured by accident along with the target species). Not so these aphrodisiacs. Mussels are often farmed on ropes suspended in the water, one of the lowest impact aquaculture methods. And both they and their fellow bivalves filter algae and other particles, so their cultivation can actually improve water quality.
If you live near the ocean, your local supermarket probably carries fresh clams year-round, and fresh mussels from winter through early spring. But no matter where you live, you should be able to find decent oysters, clams, and mussels in the freezer section at the store. If you’re land-locked or they’re out of season, and you simply must have fresh shellfish, consider ordering from Browne Trading Company, a Maine-based retailer that sells many kinds of sustainably farmed and fished bivalves.
The fact that it’s the quintessential Valentine’s Day gift shows just how strongly we believe in the power of chocolate to get the sparks flying (or how susceptible we are to all those ads filled with leggy women in brown silk lingerie licking melty bits seductively from their fingers). Chocolate has been revered since the time of the Aztecs. They called it “nourishment of the gods,” and they were onto something.
Chocolate is packed with the endorphin-releasing chemical phenyl ethylamine, which is at its natural peak in the body during orgasm. The brain uses the tryptophan in chocolate to make serotonin, while a third chemical, anandamide, mimics the effects of marijuana. Taken together with the hundreds of other chemicals in chocolate, they can create an internal orgy of relaxation and bliss.
Theobroma cacao, or the cocoa tree, only grows in tropical regions, so for most of us, there’s no hope of buying local chocolate to reduce our carbon footprint. Don’t worry, though, you don’t have to forego chocolate to save the planet. Organic chocolates are chemical-free and shade-grown, preventing pollution and encouraging biodiversity. Fair trade chocolates come from farms where child labor is prohibited, environmentally responsible production methods are required, and farmers are paid a living wage.
Best of all, you don’t even have to shop at boutique grocers to find these sustainable choices. Fair trade and organic chocolates are available in most major grocery store chains. Look for brands like Dagoba, Green & Black, and Equal Exchange, or for a special treat, order some of Taza’s small-batch, stone-ground delicacies at Taza Chocolates. But be careful: At least three recent studies have shown that women actually prefer eating chocolate to having sex!
Scientifically speaking, honey is for the bees: B vitamins and boron, to be exact. The golden elixir is bursting with both. The former helps with testosterone production, while the latter helps preserve the body’s estrogen. Honey also contains easily digestible sugars, which can keep your energy (and your equipment!) from flagging at an inopportune time.
Bees pollinate nearly all the fruits we eat, as well as almonds (the country’s largest specialty crop export), many vegetables, and clover, on which many of the animals we eat are grazed. That puts them at the very center of our food system, where a threat to them can quickly become a threat to everything from our eating habits to our economy, so it pays to pay attention to where your honey comes from.
In order to protect their bees and continue to sell honey at high volumes, many beekeepers have chosen to treat their hives with chemicals to prevent pests and disease. Over time, this has resulted in chemical-resistant super-bugs and bees with no natural resistance to infection. Commercial beekeeping, where hives are shipped all over the country to pollinate whatever crop is in season at a particular time, may also be contributing to a severe decline in the honeybee population known as Colony Collapse Disorder.
By sticking to honey from local sources that don’t treat their bees, you can help ensure not only the bees’ survival, but the survival of everything from apples to watermelons. Find sustainable sticky stuff at your local farmers market during the spring and summer (check out www.localharvest.org to find a market near you), or visit www.honeylocator.com for a list of beekeepers and honey retailers in your area.
Asparagus is rich in vitamin E, known as “the sex vitamin” because of its essential role in regulating both men’s and women’s sex hormones. These little green stalks are also chock-full of folate, which aids in fetal brain and spine development. So if you’re looking not just to get laid, but to make a tiny new asparagus-lover, it’s a good tool for the job.
Unlike other suggestively shaped foods, asparagus is a perennial plant. Along with just a handful of other veggies, it comes back year after year, making it a nearly infinitely renewable resource. In fact, a well-cared-for asparagus bed can yield food for fifteen years or more. If you can find organic asparagus, more’s the better, or you can try growing it yourself in any temperate climate.
Depending on where you live, asparagus grows fresh from about February through June, so even if you don’t have a green thumb, you can still get your hands on it locally at farmers markets. Out of season, look for organic asparagus at Whole Foods.
No matter where it comes from, asparagus is a perfect food to share with a lover, or to eat seductively in front of one. Long, thin stalks are the most tender, and are delicious served dripping with a thick, creamy hollandaise. Eat them with your fingers, and if you drip a little, don’t worry, just find a coy way to lick the sauce away. But don’t share the bathroom after dinner. Asparagus contains a sulfurous compound that makes some people’s pee smell decidedly unsexy.
Though somewhat gross in appearance, the scent of these rare, fragrant mushrooms is said to conjure “erotic and lustful memories” in both sexes. The chemical that gives truffles their characteristic musky odor is androstenol, a pheromone that closely resembles human—and boar—sex hormones. Female pigs, that have a keen sense of smell and a strong attraction to androstenol, are often used to forage for truffles, but tend to eat them before their handlers can wrest them away.
Their scarcity and the difficulty in harvesting them is actually what makes truffles sustainable. Though methods of cultivating these sexy-smelling mushrooms have been developed, they are still primarily harvested by foraging. This means that no chemicals, no heavy equipment, no irrigation, no soil management, and no other human interventions are required. Mother Nature does all the work her way, leaving for us the thrill of the search and the pleasure of a rare and valuable treat.
Most truffles in the United States come from Northern California, Oregon, and Washington, and you can order them from www.oregonwildedibles.com. More recently, ambitious growers in North Carolina’s Piedmont Valley have begun planting trees whose roots have been inoculated with truffle spores, and have successfully harvested black truffles. Order some for yourself at www.nctruffles.com.
There is no one thing that makes all of these “love bites” sustainable. Some can be grown or harvested locally, without fertilizer or pesticide, using responsible water management techniques, or without killing off other species. Others are actively good for the planet, and though it may sound counterintuitive, eating them insures their continued existence by creating demand in for them in the market. Some are organic, and some defy the possibility of organic labeling. Some have aphrodisiacal powers supported by science, while others are backed only by superstition. The only things these eco-friendly aphrodisiacs have in common is their ability to tantalize your palate, and hopefully your partner. And what could be better than making the planet greener with every orgasm?