0

votes

Why didn't our Western ancestors eat seaweed like the Asians?

Commented on November 11, 2013
Created November 09, 2013 at 5:35 AM

I know that in the days before the industrial revolution, before industrial pesticides and fertilizers, that it was quite common for farmers living near the sea shores to collect seaweeds and use them as natural fertilizers for their crops. It would stand to reason that at some point our ancestors would at least have tried eating seaweeds, and to have found them to be edible, nutritious and palatable, just like the Asians have. And yet, to the best of my knowledge, Westerners never did. Does anybody know why?

Also, if we have never eaten them, would it be a well educated guess to say that maybe we are not genetically adapted to eating them, seeing as our ancestors, in their ancestral wisdom, chose not to? Thanks!

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 11, 2013
at 01:24 PM

Contrary to paleo dogma, grain-based diets are great for increasing the population! Longevity is not a trait strongly selected for by evolution.

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on November 11, 2013
at 05:07 AM

thx paleot. i would say that in 'common language' algae & seaweed are different (at least to me). seaweed is a form of algae, a member of the algae family if you like.

from what i (wiki) can tell, alga specifically (singular of algae) is Latin for seaweed. (ref).

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 09, 2013
at 03:01 PM

Exactly. Costal communities did consume sea vegetables. I think the OP is referring to Japanese when they refer to "Asians", as "Asians" certainly aren't a homogeneous cohort. You'd be hard-pressed to find inland Chinese eating copious amounts of sea veggies. When you're homeland is an island, of course you're going to eat lots of food from the sea.

Cf08ad26759fdd206a2c9f9385080a57

(995)

on November 09, 2013
at 11:44 AM

Algae is latin for seaweed.

Nori (海苔) is an edible seaweed species of the red algae genus Porphyra, including P. yezoensis and P. tenera.

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on November 09, 2013
at 08:46 AM

it seems Irish and Scottish coastal dwellers have been eating seaweed for a while & i expect it would be a similar story for all coastal dwellers around the world. Refs

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on November 09, 2013
at 06:18 AM

probably best to edit your Q and the Title, & change algae to seaweed (they are different)

F6c4b68f393c2a15b833a29c8d701af6

on November 09, 2013
at 05:48 AM

I believed that algae and seaweed were synonymous when I wrote that question. The pratice that I mentioned about using seaweed as fertilizer for crops is a traditional custom in the Mediterranean. I don't know what it is called in English. This is a site in Portuguese (my mother tongue) where it is described. Maybe you can read it using an online translator.

http://www.sargaceiros.com.pt/apanha.html

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5 Answers

0
56c28e3654d4dd8a8abdb2c1f525202e

(1822)

on November 11, 2013
at 09:45 AM

In Scotland, too, seaweed was a staple consumed by all. There is little doubt that the British Isles diet was the best (perhaps the best in the world) centuries ago. It was based on sheep and cattle, seaweed and fish, all sorts of root crops, oats, and selected greens such as kale and nettle. In the Middle Ages, the Isles had 1/9 the population of France, while today they have more people than France. Easy to be paleo when he population density is that low.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 11, 2013
at 01:24 PM

Contrary to paleo dogma, grain-based diets are great for increasing the population! Longevity is not a trait strongly selected for by evolution.

0
Medium avatar

(10601)

on November 09, 2013
at 05:29 PM

In this area of the world, seaweed was part of the indigenous diet:

http://www.fao.org/wairdocs/other/ai215e/ai215e06.htm

But like a lot of other foods, seaweed-eating became uncommon as soon as Western foods were available. In a place as wet as this, a food which is almost entirely water is difficult to preserve, and for its weight contains very few calories. Flour and sugar carbs pushed camas, seaweed, wapato, and fern roots out of the diet.

0
Be803dcde63e3cf5e21cc121097b8158

on November 09, 2013
at 07:39 AM

Seaweed is also eaten by many coastal indigenous populations around the world, so western culture might be the big factor here (a preference for land vegetables).

Westerners also don't tend to eat a lot of other ubiquitous and nutritious foods, like insects.

0
2a6025992746ff6cd4ffb6ccf0aa03fc

on November 09, 2013
at 07:21 AM

Why makes you think they didn't? Laverbread (which is not bread at all but seaweed) is a traditional Welsh dish. And in the Caribbean drinks made from a seaweed called irish moss are well known and thought by some to have aphrodisiac qualities.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 09, 2013
at 03:01 PM

Exactly. Costal communities did consume sea vegetables. I think the OP is referring to Japanese when they refer to "Asians", as "Asians" certainly aren't a homogeneous cohort. You'd be hard-pressed to find inland Chinese eating copious amounts of sea veggies. When you're homeland is an island, of course you're going to eat lots of food from the sea.

0
00cd3b6f51530a6832fcda1712edbec3

(2411)

on November 09, 2013
at 05:39 AM

I know that eating seaweed is an Asian tradition, but I hadn't known about algae. Where can I read up on that?

F6c4b68f393c2a15b833a29c8d701af6

on November 09, 2013
at 05:48 AM

I believed that algae and seaweed were synonymous when I wrote that question. The pratice that I mentioned about using seaweed as fertilizer for crops is a traditional custom in the Mediterranean. I don't know what it is called in English. This is a site in Portuguese (my mother tongue) where it is described. Maybe you can read it using an online translator.

http://www.sargaceiros.com.pt/apanha.html

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