At Mystic Seaport, oysters have always been part of our story. We’ve heard a lot of stories, myths, and lore about this humble and helpful little shellfish. With that in mind, we wanted to set the record straight on a few of the most common misconceptions about oysters.
1. Oysters are unsafe in months without the letter ‘R’. This is actually a well-intentioned myth, but untrue nonetheless. The fact is, oysters are perfectly safe to eat year-round, but many oysters spawn in non-R months (May through August), which can make their flavor less appealing. The myth seems to have been started to protect oyster populations during their breeding months, but these days, many oysters are bred not to spawn at all, which means you can enjoy delicious oysters any time of year.
2. Eating oysters is harmful to the environment. Oysters bring many benefits to their surrounding habitat, including forming protective reefs, providing food and filtering pollutants out of the water. Fortunately, the vast majority of oysters are sourced from dedicated farms, so they’re not impacting the natural ecosystem.
3. Oysters are high in cholesterol. According to the latest methods of determining cholesterol content, oysters are not considered a high-cholesterol food. In addition, they’re only about 15 calories per ounce, and a great source of vitamin B12 and zinc.
4. Oysters are an aphrodisiac. This is probably the most prevalent (and certainly the most fun) rumor about oysters, but unfortunately, it’s never been conclusively proven. In fact, the FDA has no clinical evidence that any aphrodisiac food actually works. With that said, oysters can still have a powerful placebo effect, which can be just as potent.
Hopefully this clears up some of the misinformation surrounding this great little mollusk. Oysters are easy to raise, provide ample benefits and are an important part of the story of Mystic Seaport. We invite you to come visit and learn more about the oyster trade – you can even explore our oyster dredging sloop Nellie, and learn how oystering has evolved over the years.