Monday, 15 February 2016

Cod Liver Oil and Our Changing Food Paradigms

Earlier this year Sally Fallon wrote a very good article named Cod Liver Oil and Our Changing Food Paradigms. I read it with much interest and want to share it with you so you can have a read as well. It was published in the autumn issue of the publication Wise Traditions. 


Cod liver oil—what is it?That stinky stuff kids had to take on a spoon? A magic medicine that heals rheumatism, clears the scrofula of TB and helps children recover from measles? A beauty aid that smooths the skin? A messy industrial product used to tan shoe leather? A clean, clear, standardized yellow liquid or a brown oil that rises from rotting livers?
It’s all of these and more. In fact, our views on cod liver oil can serve as a kind of bellwether for evolving attitudes on food, health and processing over the years. Cod liver oil is the quintessential traditional “natural” remedy and also one of the first common foods subjected to industrial processing. And as tradition has collided with modern science, cod liver oil has suffered the buffets of changing attitudes. Even in the early days, when this ancient folk remedy first caught the attention of modern physicians, it provoked instant and constant controversy.
Since early human settlement in northern Norway, cod and cod products have served as the cornerstone of industry for the region. Even as early as the Viking Age, cod liver oil brought prosperity as a chief item of trade with northern Europe, both for consumption and for industrial purposes. Some types were used for oil lamps, ovens, leather treatment, paint manufacture, coloring processes in textile production, soap manufacture, tempering and lathing of steel, manufacture of explosives for the armaments industry, and industrial lubricants, while more carefully extracted versions were consumed as a food and medicine for humans and animals, or used as skin creams and healing ointments, and even as a lubricant for childbirth.1
The method used by the Vikings was actually a kind of steam extraction. They brought water in a pan to boil and then placed birch tree branches on top of the pan; the cod livers were put on top of the branches. As the steam from the boiling water rose, it began to cook the livers, and oil from the livers would drop into the pan.2


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